July 4, 2011

The Language of Runners Explained

After dabbling in running on and off since the end of high school, it wasn’t until I decided to start training for a half-marathon last summer that I started reading about running online, in books, and in magazines.  I soon realized that I was entering an entirely new world, complete with its own language.  Since not all of my readers are runners and I’ve had a few questions about foam rolling and the silly-looking “leg warmers” I wear for running, I thought I’d do an introduction to “The Running Language.”  While I am no expert and this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some examples of the new lingo I’ve picked up in the last year…

Foam Rolling
Pounding out miles and miles on the road can take a toll on its muscles.  Enter the magical (at times painful) foam roller aka my best friend.  The foam roller is basically a dense foam cylinder that you lean on with different parts of your body to simulate a deep-tissue massage.  I roll tight muscles over my foam roller until I find a trigger point (“knot”) and hold it there for as long as I can tolerate.  This can be pretty painful if your muscles are as jacked up as my legs get, but it really works wonders both preventatively and to help with already knotty muscles.

Compression Socks/Sleeves
No, these are not leg warmers and this is not my attempt at a fashion statement (although in an effort to feel less foolish about wearing these babies I have convinced myself that they are both cool and stylish…I know, I’m delusional…).  Compression wear is basically super tight gear that helps get the blood flowing to certain parts of the body.  I wear compression socks or calf sleeves on almost every run.  They do WONDERS to help keep my calves cramp and knot-free.  (Note: socks/sleeves don't HAVE to be pink, but where's the fun in that??)

Spi Belt
This little guy is a great accessory for a race.  It’s basically a little stretchy belt with a super stretchy pouch (NOT a fanny pack…).  It looks tiny, but my spi belt (pronounced "spy belt") stretches large enough to hold my blackberry and one or two gu.  It’s pretty little too, so you can hide it under your shirt if you don’t feel like making a fashion statement. :)

Clif Shots/Gu/Power Gel
Since I have a super sensitive stomach, energy gels are my best friend.  These are three popular brands for an electrolyte-filled gel that makes a perfect on-the-run fuel.  Once my runs start to get over an hour, I take a gel every 5 miles.  Also, since I hate running with anything in my stomach (actually, since my STOMACH hates when I run with anything in it), I take a gu about 15-20 minutes before a morning run.  The consistency varies a bit between the different brands, but they are all a gooey gel.  My current favorite is chocolate outrage gu which tastes something like chocolate frosting.

The Stick
Similar to the foam roller, The Stick is awesome at erasing those deep muscle knots and trigger points.  I like that the little wheels on this baby are great at getting to those deep muscles, but I don’t love that you have to apply the pressure and thus inflict the pain on yourself.  I find that I wimp out more with the Stick than I tend to with the foam roller because with the roller you can kind of just lay in one spot and deal with the pain instead of forcing yourself to roll over and over the same painful area.  That being said, it works great if you are up to it!

Race Distances
I didn’t really know what any of the big race distances were before I started running, so here’s a little key…
5K = 3.1 miles
10K = 6.2 miles
15K = 9.3 miles
½ Marathon = 13.1 miles
Marathon = 26.2 miles
After that, there are plenty of other distances that those crazy “ultra marathoners” run, but these are the mainstream ones. :)

What am I missing?  What running “lingo” have you learned since you picked up the sport?

(Note: I think the teaching language is even more extensive than the running language—I am always amazed by the number of acronyms we use in a given conversation!!)


  1. Awesome post. I have been considering for a few weeks now whether to get a foam roller and compression socks. Hearing your review of them makes me think they are very beneficial. I will have to look more into this. I always get calf cramps either while I'm running or right after. I've been told that it was because I'm not hydrated...but I drink tons of water so I doubt thats it. Compression socks might be my answer!

  2. such a good post! and much needed! I am still constantly googling distances...haha. especially track ones when people blog about their speed work! Also...it took me at least 3 months to learn what "PR" meant.

  3. That is a great informative post. I've always wondered about those compression socks!! Maybe I'll have to give them a try. Thanks for the info. I love my spibelt. Perfect running gadget!!

    I tagged you on my blog today...go check it out!!

  4. So helpful Amy! I've been wanting to know more about foam rolling. This is really perfect!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...