Runners speak a different language. And while we may take it for granted, many of the terms that runners use everyday either have very different meanings when taken out of context, or would simply make no sense in any other setting. Below is a list of those terms. If you’re a new runner, take note and learn these words. They will soon be a part of your life. If you’re a long-time runner, remember that when you say these things, most people have no clue what you’re talking about. 

The start of the 2018 Huffin’ Puffin Marathon in Mount Pearl, N.L. Photo: Greg Greening

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Fartlek

One of the strangest words to the uninitiated, fartlek means speed play in Swedish. A fartlek run is essentially a long run with speed play mixed in. It’s a great option for a speed workout when you don’t have access to a track. 

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Toe-the-line

Toeing the line simply means lining up to race. For example, when used in a sentence it would be something like, “I haven’t toed the line in a while.”

The well 

Going to the well refers to running to complete exhaustion. Side effects of going to the well include but are not limited to: lactic acid everywhere, indigestion, inability to walk for several minutes, and a nap later in the day. 

Half-tights

Half-tights are different depending on your gender. If you’re wearing woman’s clothes, a half-tight ends at your mid calf, if you’re wearing menswear, a half-tight is a tight short. Men’s tights that go to the mid-calf are called manpris. 

Negative Split 

A negative split is a very positive thing. A negative split mean that the second half of your race was faster than the first, and chances are you can run even faster. 

Bonk

To bonk is to run out of energy to the point that you’re unable to complete your exercise-related task. A bonk typically results in the inability to finish a race or a workout, and is remedied by a lot of sugar and rest. 

Bandit 

A race bandit is someone who is participating in an event without an official entry. There have been many historic running bandits, for example, the London Marathon bandit

Calgary Marathon Medal
Calgary Marathon medals.

Streaker

When used in a running context, this term has nothing to do with taking off your clothes. A streaker is someone who has participated in multiple races in a row. 

Four by four

Four by four refers to 400 metres run four times in a four, not a measurement of lumber or a synonym for a car with four-wheel drive. 

Rest day

For most runners, a rest day doesn’t actually mean resting. A rest day usually refers to an easy day, that will include anywhere from five to 20 kilometres of running, at a pace that is slow for you. 

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