10 Terms Every Runner Needs to Know

POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell
POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

If you're new to running, there's more to know than just putting one foot in front of the other (although that's 90 percent of it!). If you want to impress your running buddies, here are 10 terms every beginning runner should know.

  1. Cooldown: A less-intense exercise that will help your heart rate gradually recover after the end of a workout. The last few minutes of any run should be devoted to a cooldown such as jogging at a slow pace. And before you finish for good, don't forget your postrun stretches!
  2. Cross-training: Exercising in other ways to help improve your running performance. Strength training, biking, or swimming, for example, help balance out your body by strengthening muscles you don't use as much when you run, which improves your running performance. Yoga also helps stretch muscles and hips to help with your form and performance; check out must-do yoga poses for runners here.
  3. DOMS: The pain you feel in your muscles after a workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, usually happens one or two days after your workout and can happen after any workout and especially if you're new to running or did a particularly intense run. DOMS comes from microscopic tears in the muscles you challenged during your workout. If you want to ease your DOMS symptoms, here are 10 things you can do to prevent and alleviate DOMS.
  4. Foot strike: How your foot lands on the ground when you run. While there is some debate, the midfoot strike (hitting the ground on the ball of your foot) is often considered the best running style — rather than heel- and toe-striking — since it helps absorb shock and puts less stress on your joints and muscles. Read about the pros and cons of each foot strike style here.
  5. Interval training: Dividing your run into short periods of alternating speeds, such as a slow interval of jogging followed by a high-intensity interval where you sprint as fast as possible. Interval training is important not only because it helps make you a better runner but also because it burns more fat than running at a steady pace alone. Fartlek, a Swedish word meaning "speed play," is a form of interval training.
  6. Pronation: The way your foot rolls as it hits the ground when you're walking or running. Overpronation, common in people with flat feet, is when your feet roll too much inward as they hit the ground. Underpronation is when your feet don't roll far enough inward and is common in people with high arches. Both over- and underpronating can lead to running injuries, so it's important to pick the right running shoes to help correct them.
  7. Running form: How your whole body looks and acts as you run; proper running form helps prevent injury and makes you a better runner. As you start your running hobby, take some time learning how to run correctly.
  8. Splits: The time it takes for you to run a predetermined distance (like a mile) within a race or workout. Knowing your split time helps you strategize when running a race or trying to increase your running pace. Negative splits, for example, means you run the latter half of a race or workout faster than the first half, which helps your overall time. Watch our video to learn strategies for using negative splits in your runs here.
  9. Tempo run: Running at a faster pace than you're used to for an extended period of time (vs. intervals, where you run fast for a short amount of time). Tempo running helps with speed and endurance; read our tips on how to find the right tempo-running pace for you.
  10. Warmup: The act of warming up your muscles and increasing your heart rate gradually before your main workout. Whether you're running or hitting the gym, make sure you jog for at least five minutes at the start of your workout, or try this active warmup sequence to get your muscles ready.