A running vocabulary to become an armchair fan

Every sport has their own regular sayings and catchphrases amongst pundits and fans alike. In rugby for instance you won’t be long in hearing about being “first to the breakdown” or “breaking the gain line” and in soccer you will hear about the “hospital pass” and “holding a high line.”

Knowing these turns of phrase are important for the regular armchair and pub going fan. In athletics there are plenty of sayings which will help you bluff your way through an athletics meet or a conversation with the running aficionados. Below is a list to get you going. What are your favourites?

What were the splits? = what were the intermediate 200m, 400m etc times

That was some kick = a fast finish

He/She has great turnover = good leg speed

Great engine/Aerobic animal = good endurance

Anaerobic beast = good power and speed – great over short distances

Plodder/joggers journal = a jogger/slow

You don’t put a Ferrari in a muddy field = a saying that you don’t put an 800m/1500m thoroughbred in cross country

Oxygen debt = means they have gone off too fast and are now sucking for any fresh air available

Do you do much threshold or tempo training = a common session distance runners discuss

The wheels came off = fell apart after a certain distance into the race – dramatic slow down in pace

burnt out = have overtrained or looking for excuses for poor performances

Are your bloods ok = another excuse for why you are running badly

You’re looking lean = you look in good shape

sit, kick and fade = hanging on to a fast pace but unable to kick

Beautiful stride = nice looking runner

economical/efficient athlete = using just enough effort for the task required

On the juice/smarties/juiced/on the gear = on drugs

Derrick winning the USA XC. Image: PhotoRun
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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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