ManicMom’s Glossary of Running Terminology

road_kill1 copyMike and I have signed up for another half marathon, which is tomorrow. The event sounded like a really good idea back in, I don’t know, April or something, when we forget it’s Death Valley-type hot here in August.

Following the event, we’re loading up the car and driving a hundred miles across the high desert to a beer festival, for probably no real reason except just so we can say we did that.

Before THAT, and for your reading pleasure, I’m offering up the following glossary of very real and frequently used running terms:

Chip Time – That time after a long run, when I tell myself it’s probably fine to eat a full-sized bag of Fritos, because not only am I so freaking hungry I could chew my own arm off, I am also pretty sure I burned enough fuel anyway to make it a net neutral calorie intake (wrong).

Hitting the Wall or Bonking – That point during a run, or, let’s face it, at 3 pm on pretty much any work day, where I feel like a toddler crashing after having too much sugar at a birthday party. A nap would be good. Even if it’s at my desk. Or on the sidewalk.

Fartlek – The distance on a course between the park restroom and the gas station, and from the gas station to the stinky porta-john I can use if I’m desperate. Because I carbo-loaded on Italian food the night before a race, forgetting I hadn’t eaten bread or pasta for pretty much the entire six months before that and now my gastrointestinal system is paying the price.

Intervals – That one time (or one in one hundred times) I stopped to walk during my run and my friend happened to pass me in his car, hollering his friendly hello. That was a walk interval. Walk intervals frequently inspire a feeling like I’m being a puss. Followed by unreasonable defensiveness. Do I see him running? No. He’s driving. Spewing out greenhouse gasses. He’ll probably litter too, and go home to watch Duck Dynasty.

Road Kill – Someone I pass while participating in an event, and who will probably pass me on my next walk interval. And who I’ll pass again on my next run interval. Incidentally, I count each pass of the same person as a road kill. Shut up. I can do what I want. If I’m really desperate I’ll count spectators as road kill. So there. It helps pass the time, and nobody is going to drill down on these numbers later.

Elite Runners – All the people who count me as road kill in an event. And for that matter, anyone who rolls out of bed and decides to pick up the sport of running today.

Tempo run – Running in time to my music, imagining I’m on the dance floor, or maybe performing on a stage under disco lights. Special care must be taken on tempo runs to not flail my arms lest I hit a passing runner who is listening to faster-paced music. Lip syncing is perfectly okay. And no, I don’t look like a dork. I look like Diana Ross.

LSD – The hallucinogenic drug I feel like I’ve taken when I save the Long Slow Distance run for the hottest part of the day, because I’m too lazy to get up and do it when I should.

Taper – The last few days in a training regimen before a running event where runners take things really easy in order to have “fresh legs” for the event. Bonus points when I act grouchy for not running as much as I profess to be used to. We know that’s fake.

Easy six – Something stupid runners say when they get used to running long distances and a six-miler seems like a piece of cake, as in “I’m going to run an easy six and be back in time for dinner.” You do that. I’m going to take this easy couch and watch a rerun of Magnum PI and we’ll see who ends up happier.

Master – A term that makes a runner feel like she deserves a modicum of respect for having reached a certain level of bad-assedness, when in fact it just means that she’s over 40 and all the younger runners know they’ll later be able to count her as road kill.

Maximum Heart Rate – A heart rate at which a 26 year-old is burning a gazillion calories and still not breaking a sweat, but at which a master runner might require a defibrillator.

Negative Split – When I pulled those old shorts out of the bottom of the drawer, I’d forgotten they’re the ones where the elastic is old and crumbly and the seams would come apart when I bent over to tie my shoe.

Runner’s High – A term in the game of poker where someone who has run a long way for a card game and the resulting endorphins makes her forget she kind of sucks at card games and shouldn’t bet the farm on a pair of fours.

Oh, and a bonus term for you big guys out there:

Clydesdale – Contrary to popular belief, a Clydesdale is not one of your larger runners, but someone who refuses to shave her legs during the winter because the extra hair is added insulation under her running tights.


Don’t think about it too much. I didn’t. Just vote.




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  1. I took up running a couple of years ago. I feel like a rockstar when I run. I\’m all, \”Eat it, 20-somethings! I\’ve birth 8 babies, lost 65 pounds, and am running!\”.

    And then I join a race and then I\’m all, \”I suck at this.\”

    But I\’m still doing it. And that\’s more than half the battle, right? Even if I blow.

    1. Seriously, keep it up. No matter who beats you in an event, you\’re always ahead of the losers who are are home on the couch, watching Magnum PI reruns. Oh, and everyone else not running!

      1. Not when I look back at my original comment and catch my typos. How embarrassing!

        I tend to think anyone who does this mom job every day, and manages to feed everyone, is kind of a rock star.

        But wait. There are Magnum PI reruns? How did I not sign up for that?

        Thank you for this post, though. It has really excellent timing. My Bonus Kid kept saying, \”treat yo\’self\” this past week on vacation. Time to strap on my running shoes and put down the ice cream!