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The trail runner's dictionary

This dictionary has been prepared for new trail runners or those not familiar with the lingo of the trails. It contains words, phrases and acronyms likely to be met in the everyday life of a trail runner, often while conversing with others of the same irregular species. This guide also includes a number of slang, informal, obscure, medical and technical words. Every effort has been made to ensure the definition for each is accurate.

  • Achilles tendonitis - n. The Greek God of running injuries.
  • Bladerunner - n. A runner who is as skinny as a blade of grass.
  • Blood - n. Protein-rich flavoring for aid-station snacks.
  • Bonk - 1. v. Experiencing sudden weakness due to a lack of fuel. "You don't want to bonk during the race. Eat something!" 2. n. British pronunciation of a financial establishment. 3. n. British term with the same meaning as "shag." (You may want to think twice before talking to a Brit about your last bonk.)
  • Bunions - n. pl. The mother and father of Paul.
  • Capilene - n. The way a runner's cap or hat naturally leans or tilts while running. "Your capilene is stylin'."
  • Carbo load - n. A garbage truck full of bread and pasta eaten the night before a long race.
  • Cross training - n. Training when you are very upset.
  • Did-a-thoner - n. Those who run marathons and ultra-marathons for quantity not quality. A did-a-thoner will tell you they did the London, Boston, Paris, Big Sur and Wild Wild West marathons - all within a six-week period. They may have finished each one in 10 hours but, hey, they "did" it.
  • Double - 1. v. Completing two workouts in one day (a 2-mile warm-up jog followed by a 6-mile tempo run doesn't count). 2. n. What you drink after you DNF.
  • DNF - acronym What you say when your friend or spouse asks why you did not finish a race - "Do Not F***ing ask."
  • Dust - n. Mud with the juice squeezed out.
  • Endorphins - n. Friendly little parasites that you usually feel in the middle of a good run. "The endorphins are kicking in."
  • Fartlek - n. Running intervals after eating refried beans.
  • Food and drug administration - n. Pre-race ritual involving carbohydrates, fluids and plenty of anti-inflammatories.
  • Free balling - v. Something that happens when the liner of a man's running shorts loses its elasticity.
  • Gel - n. Something in your running shoe or your hair or in a packet - all of which are supposed to make you run faster.
  • Glycogen stores - n. pl. Places where you can get a limited supply of fuel before you have to visit the fat stores.
  • Hamster run - n. Any run that goes round and round in circles, ovals or loops.
  • Hamstring - n. The leash you hook to your pet pig's collar before taking him on a run.
  • Heart rate monitor - n. An annoying piece of equipment that constantly beeps, usually worn by someone who is hearing- or etiquette-impaired and running the same pace as you during a trail run.
  • Iliotibial band - n. A musical group that disbanded due to bad knees from constant bending while playing the bongos.
  • Jogging - v. What your non~running friends and co-workers say they saw you doing when you were actually out running.
  • LSD - acronym Let's slow down (while running this long, slow distance run).
  • Marathoner - n. A person who derives great personal satisfaction from an experience very similar to breathing into a plastic bag for about 40 minutes.
  • Mosquito - n. An insect that makes you like flies better.
  • MPD - acronym Miles per day. People who religiously keep track of these MPDs are known as OMLs (Obsessive Mileage Loggers).
  • Mud - n. Dust with water additive.
  • Negative split - 1. n. When the second half of a race is faster than the first half; common among elite runners. 2. n. Banana split without the whipped cream, bananas, nuts or ice cream.
  • NRF - acronym Non-Running Friend (pronounced "nurf").
  • Pace - n. Preferred salsa of runners worldwide, hence the term, "Pick up the Pace."
  • Pacer - 1. n. Friend who runs beside an entrant in the latter part of a long race. 2. n. Runner who brings the chips and salsa to a workout.
  • Path pounders - n. pl. Trail runners.
  • Pavement pounders - n. pl. Road runners.
  • Pale ale pounders - n. pl. Hash House Harriers.
  • Plantar fasciitis - n. A Latin derivative for doing a face-plant on a trail run.
  • Poison ivy - n. Something one acquires, like endurance and dirty shoes, when running trails east of the Rockies.
  • Power bar - n. Drinking establishment frequented by the elite in the running world.
  • Pronate - v. What the shoe guy says your feet do, and then you have to pay an extra 20 bucks for your running shoes.
  • PW - acronym A personal worst finish time.
  • Racing singlet - n. A short song or rhyme recited before each race.
  • Runner's log - n. Something to be deposited in a toilet or buried in a cat hole when out for a run.
  • Sciatic nerve - n. An extremely irritating characteristic in a running partner. "He's got a lot of sciatic nerve!"
  • Shin - n. A device for finding rocks and roots.
  • Sprinting - v. What you thought you were doing during the last 100 yards of the "Western States 100" as the clock read 23:59:45.
  • Supinate - v. What you did after your last ultra-marathon - you had soup and ate.
  • Tempo run - n. Running to the beat of your favorite song - should be done at least once a week.
  • Trail runner - n. Runner with allergic reactions to asphalt and concrete.
  • Ultra-marathoner - n. A person who derives great personal satisfaction from experiences that include, but are not limited to, oxygen deprivation, motion sickness, dehydration, chafing, blistering, vomiting, cramping, heat-stroke and hypothermia, and preferably all at once.
  • Ultra-marathon - n. A footrace that exceeds 26.2 miles, usually on trails, that involves three methods of forward motion, usually running, jogging and walking.

Credits - WorldwideRunning.com would like to thank Laura Kulsik for permission to reprint the article "The Trail Runner's Dictionary", originally published in the June/July 2001 issue of "Trail Runner". She has run 180 marathons and 101 ultras. Laura has run the "Western States 100 Endurance Run" seven times; she was the master's winner in 2000 and third woman overall the following year.


Since September 7, 2007 - © Aerostato, Seattle - All Rights Reserved.

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