Running Lingo 101: 15 Racing Terms Every Runner Should Know

Abbie Mood
by Abbie Mood
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Running Lingo 101: 15 Racing Terms Every Runner Should Know

There’s always a learning curve when you try something new, and running is no different. Whether you are prepping for your first race ever or you’ve been racing for a while but never understood the difference between a PR and a BQ, we’ve got you covered. This guide will help you sound like a seasoned veteran in no time.


Spots during a race where volunteers hand out water, sports drinks or other types of hydration and fuel. You’ll likely see one or two in a shorter race like a 5K and multiple aid stations in longer races.


A way to categorize people in races by age. They are usually in 4–9 year increments, such as 30–34 years, or 30–39 years. Race directors often give out awards for the top three runners in each age group.


Short for “Boston qualifiers,” it’s a time that would qualify a runner to run in the Boston Marathon.


Someone who runs a race without paying. It’s even worse if they take fuel from an aid station or somehow win a medal (though most races won’t give you a medal if you don’t have a bib on).


A paper with your race number on it that you’ll pin to your shirt on race day.


Most races have either a chip that is embedded into your bib or that you attach to your shoelaces. When you run a race, your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting line that activates your chip. Your chip time measures when your chip crosses the start/finish line, not the overall clock. This is especially helpful for people who start farther back, so that everyone has a fair (and accurate) time.


Most larger races have runners start in corrals, which are ways to group people based on expecting finish time. The faster runners start at the front so they can get on it, while the slower runners usually start in the back. If a race has walkers, the walkers will be in the very last corral.


Stands for “did not finish.” When someone starts a race but drops out somewhere along the course due to injury or some other reason, they get a DNF as a race result.


A very fast or professional runner.


Stands for a runner’s “personal record” or “personal best” at any given distance.


The person who coordinates the race event.


5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles)


It’s a technical tank top for runners. You’ll usually see these on people running with a team or someone who is sponsored by a company.


Reducing your mileage over the weeks before a race, so you are fresh and ready to go on race day.


Someone who loves running so much that they run for days. Literally. Technically an ultramarathon is anything beyond a regular marathon — popular distances include a 50K (31 miles), 50 miles, 100K (62.1 miles) or 100 miles.


> Running Lingo 101: 30 Terms Every Runner Should Know
> A Brief (and Surprising) History of the Marathon
> 5K and 10K Training Plans for Beginners
> The 7 Biggest Race Day Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

About the Author

Abbie Mood
Abbie Mood

Abbie is a freelance writer and editor based out of Colorado. She loves writing about a variety of topics from running to soccer to social/environmental issues, and when she isn’t writing, Abbie tries to be outside as much as possible. You can find her online at her website or on Twitter/Instagram @abbiemood.


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