More Marathon Jargon

marathon photo

Tempo Workouts This involves sustained running at speed for 2 to 3 miles, there will be some of these runs in your 10km training plans, but I will also be going into more detail on these kinds of runs for those of you who catch the running bug and decide that you would like to progress to a half or even full marathon distance.  For these tempo runs your goal should be to sustain a comfortably hard (although this may sound like an oxymoron) pace for around 20 minutes.  It’s important to warm up and cool down properly when doing this kind of training, you don’t want to push yourself towards an injury.

Lactate / Anaerobic Threshold This is the point during exercise where lactic acid starts to build up in the bloodstream, it’s the bridge between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.  As lactic acid starts to build up your muscles will feel tired and when you’re running you may even feel a burning sensation in your quadriceps.  Effective training will help to raise this threshold allowing you to train harder before crossing over into anaerobic exercise, as your muscles will be using oxygen more effectively as they become used to the exercise.

Taper Tapering is one of the final stages of race training.  It involves reducing the length and intensity of your runs before a big race in order to ensure that your muscles are rested and not fatigued before you hit the starting line.

PB This refers to a runner’s personal best over a specific distance or in an organized race.  It’s basically your best time, so for example if you’ve run two 10km races, one taking you 1 hour, and the other taking you 55 minutes then your PB would be 55 minutes.

Hitting the Wall If you’ve watched a marathon or talked to any runners you will probably have heard this expression.  It refers to the point where you run out of energy and physically you feel like you’ve hit a wall that you can’t break through.  It happens when the glycogen stores in your muscles become depleted, as a result your muscles start to feel heavy as fatigue sets in.  Hitting the wall is also sometimes referred to as a ‘bonk’.

Negative Split  It refers to running the second half of a race faster than the first half, so for example you may run your first 5km at a 9-minute mile pace and your second 5km at a 8.30 minute mile pace.   It’s about keeping enough energy in the bank at the start to really go for it in the second part of the race.

Carbo-loading This involves consuming a diet high in carbohydrates prior to a race in order to fill the glycogen stores in your muscles.  This is usually done before a race exceeding 90 minutes as our muscles can only store enough glycogen for this amount of time.  The likelihood is that for 5km and 10km races you won’t need to carbo-load, you’ll just need to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet including carbohydrates, protein and plenty of lovely fruit and veggies.

Runner’s Trots This is a slightly nicer way of saying diarrhea and typically involves the urgent need to use the bathroom mid-run. 

Rest days – hooray! It may surprise you that taking at the very least one day off a week will actually improve your overall performance, but studies have shown that this is the case.  Taking one or two rest days will reduce your risk of injury, it also builds your strength back up after a series of runs and helps to reduce fatigue.  As I’ve mentioned in Chapter 5, many injuries come about as a result of over-use and rest days help to control that aspect of your training.

As you can see, running opens up a whole new vocabulary!  These basic terms will cover what you will be reading in this book as well as the next, there will also be an extension to this glossary in the marathon training book.  In the next chapter, I’ll be covering tips for the race itself as well as how to deal with nerves pre-race.