Running terms for beginners

A complete guide to running terms for beginners

Like any hobby, running is something that once you dig deeper into, you are bound to uncover some unfamiliar terms or words that are thrown around by your running buddies. You will find the sport has a dictionary full of different running terminology, and as a beginner that can be intimidating.

“Running unlike most exercise, has no gender or age restrictions, and it does not require a workout facility or equipment. But with all jargon that surrounds the “run club”, it can be intimidating – especially for beginners,” explains Accredited Sports Scientist Ben Brugman.

“Education and learning are a core foundation for being a better athlete no matter what your level. With so many beginners starting their running journey, it’s always nice to know the unspoken language of one of the most popular clubs in town.”

So, let us take you on an educational tour of the most common running terminology to learn that you’ll most likely hear along your running journey.

Your complete guide to running terminology:

Warm up – Probably needs no explanation but such a significance. The name says it all and means you are literally warming up your body before exercise. This helps with injury prevention and allows the body to move efficiently – learn how to warm up effectively by clicking here.

Cool down – Often the forgotten step in beginner’s routine, yet one of the most important. The purpose of cooling down after your workout is to hep your heart rate and breathing return to normal. It is a gradual decrease to help your body stabilize and help reduce cramping and stiffness. Here are some tips to master your cooldown.

DOMS – One thing you wish to avoid but most likely won’t – delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is exercise related muscle pain. It is developed after excessive or eccentric exercise where the muscle is contacting while lengthening. This is common with long-distance running.

Interval training – Important to helping you become a better runner and fitter person! Interval training alternates between high-intensity fast periods followed by less-intense recovery periods. You reach your maximum heart rate during a short sprint then allow it to fall back down as you slow jog.

Tempo running – A term you have probably heard before, but if you don’t quite understand what temp running is – you’re not alone. A tempo run is performed at an intensity that sits between our aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. In simpler terms, it is the pace at which you could sustain for an hour race. Temp is a great way to boost your fitness and running endurance.

Form – The way your body is position and held while running. Controlling your form allows you to run efficiently and safe. Try to keep the upper body tall yet relaxed and swing the arms forward and back at low 90-degree angles.

Cross-training – Including other exercise into your routine will help improve your running. Balance out your muscle groups by incorporating strength training into your program. Other forms of training can assist runners taking the next step in their performance. Other great cross-training examples are swimming, cycling and yoga. Read how strength training can your performance as a runner by clicking here.

Pace – The amount of time is takes you to cover a kilometer. Knowing your pace per kilometers gives you a sense of how long it takes to cover distances in your runs and sets goals.

Splits – The amount of time it takes to run a specific distance. If you are running 5 kilometers, you will have 5 separate split times. This helps you create a strategy when running and keeps track of your performance.

Foot strike – The way in which a runner’s foot strikes the ground. Every runner should strike the ground with their mid-foot, not on their toes or heels. Aim to use light steps that fall directly under your hips. This will reduce your risk of injuries and set up a more comfortable run.



Ask for help!

If you’re unsure how to start your running and training journey, talk to one of our Accredited Exercise Professional today! They have the knowledge and skills to provide you with a program designed specifically to you, that will consider your lifestyle, body and goals, all while optimising performance and and avoided injury.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 


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We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is the professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.