New To Running? Top 5 Runner Terms Explained

If you’re new to running and have ventured beyond your treadmill, trusty sidewalk or cottage trail to find a running group, you may have noticed there is some strange lingo being tossed around there. From acronyms to the downright baffling what-did-you-just-says-! here are the top 5 running terms explained.


  1. LSDNo, not everyone in your newly found run group takes psychedelic drugs together on Sundays, although that would be interesting. LSDs stand for Long Slow Distances, also simply known as the Long Run. Your long run is typically 30% to 50% longer than your tempo runs (see below!) and is run at a slow pace. This means you should easily be able to hold a conversation throughout. The point of an LSD is to put some mileage on those legs of yours. Many people use the 10 minutes running, 1 minute walking method on their LSDs, yours truly included.
  2. Tempo – Think of this as the opposite of an LSD. Tempos are short, fast runs that, simply put, teach your body to run at a heightened pace. Tempo runs begin with a warm up, followed by several fast kilometres (usually 3 to start), completed with a cool down. During the fast kilometres, you should not be able to easily hold a conversation. Many – and this really does showcase just how wonderfully kooky the running community can be – refer to this as a “comfortably difficult” pace. Without sarcasm. Yes, really.
  3. Hills – Hill runs are a special part of the runners arsenal. Instead of heading out on an average flat course, with maybe one or two hills in the middle, hill runs consist of explicitly seeking out a steep and long stretch of road or trail and then repeatedly running it over and over again at a considerable pace until you feel like you might prefer to die. Yes, I – and you! – do this for fun. And in all honestly, it actually is quite fun to look down that hill from the top and think to yourself “I just owned that”. If “owning” means you wheezed your way up roughly 400m while sweating profusely and scaring small children in your path. Ahem.
  4. Fartlek – Here we are. The funniest term in running lingo. Fartleks (“speed play” in Swedish) are in the same vein as tempo runs but are significantly less structured. The idea is to head out for a medium distanced run and then play with your speed. For one section, run hard, then run at a medium effort, then slowly. You might challenge yourself to run as fast as you can to the end of the block, and then run an easy block afterwards. As with tempo runs, the point is to increase your speed overall.
  5. Splits – Depending on whether you live in the metric or imperial world (or, if you are in Canada, both on occasion), splits tend to refer to 1 km or 1 mile. Technically, it can refer to any distance broken into even parts. Its usually referred to in terms of negative splits, which is when the runner manages to run the second half of a race faster than the first. Positive splits is when the runner completes the first half faster than the second, which is much more common among us newbies.


What terms are you interested to know about? Leave a note in the comments section!