50 Common Cross Country Lingo: Terms, Jargon, and Phrases Used in the Sport

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Lago Vista Athletics

Cross country running is a sport that has its own unique set of terminology. Understanding the lingo used in cross country is essential to communicating with coaches, athletes, and fans. Whether you are a seasoned runner or a novice, it is important to know the different terms used in the sport to better appreciate and understand it.

In this article, we will explore 50 common cross country lingo that every runner should know. From the basic terms like “fartlek” and “interval training” to the more advanced terms like “negative split” and “tempo run,” this article will cover everything you need to know to become a cross country expert. Whether you are a runner looking to improve your performance or a fan looking to better understand the sport, this article will provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed. So, let’s get started and dive into the world of cross country lingo!

Understanding Cross Country

Cross country is a sport that involves running on natural terrain such as grass, dirt, and hills. The sport is known for its challenging courses and long distances. Cross country runners compete in races that range from 5 kilometers to 10 kilometers. The sport is popular in high schools, colleges, and universities.

To understand cross country, it is important to know some of the common terms used in the sport. These terms include:

  • Spikes: Shoes worn by runners that have metal spikes on the sole for better traction on the terrain.
  • Splits: The time it takes to complete a certain distance during a race, usually measured in minutes and seconds.
  • Pace: The speed at which a runner is running, usually measured in minutes per mile.
  • Course: The route that the runners follow during a race.
  • Finish line: The line that marks the end of the race.

In addition to these terms, cross country also has a unique scoring system. In most races, the top five runners from each team are scored based on their finishing position. The team with the lowest score wins the race. This system encourages teamwork and strategy, as coaches must decide which runners to use in each race to maximize their team’s chances of winning.

Overall, cross country is a challenging and rewarding sport that requires dedication and hard work. By understanding the common terms used in the sport, runners can better navigate the courses and compete at their best.

Basic Lingo

Cross country running has a unique vocabulary. Understanding the basic lingo of cross country will help you communicate with coaches, runners, and fans. Here are some of the most common terms you need to know:

1. Course

The course is the route the runners follow during a race. It can be on a variety of terrains, including grass, dirt, or pavement. The course can be flat, hilly, or somewhere in between. The distance of the course can vary from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) for college and adult races.

2. Split

A split is the time it takes for a runner to cover a specific distance during a race. Coaches use splits to track the progress of their runners and make adjustments to their strategy during the race.

3. Finish Line

The finish line is the endpoint of the race. It is the point where the runners cross to complete the race. The finish line is marked with a banner or a line on the ground.

4. Start Line

The start line is the beginning of the race. Runners line up behind the start line before the race begins. The start line is marked with a banner or a line on the ground.

5. Pack

The pack refers to a group of runners who are running together during the race. In cross country, it is common for runners to run in a pack during the early stages of the race. As the race progresses, the pack will start to break up as runners try to move ahead of each other.

6. Kick

The kick is the final surge of energy a runner uses to sprint to the finish line. It is common for runners to save some energy for the kick at the end of the race.

These are just a few of the basic lingo terms used in cross country running. Understanding these terms will help you follow the race and communicate with others in the running community.

Terrain Types and Their Lingo

Cross country running and skiing can take place on various terrains, each with its own unique lingo. Here are some of the most common terrain types and their associated terms:

1. Grass

Grass is the most common terrain type for cross country running. It can be found in parks, fields, and golf courses. The lingo associated with grass terrain includes:

  • Spike: A type of shoe with long, pointed studs on the sole to provide traction on grassy surfaces.
  • Spikes out: A command given to runners to remove their spikes before entering a building or other non-grassy area.
  • Mud: Wet, soft earth that can make running on grassy terrain more challenging.
  • Slopes: Hills or inclines on grassy terrain that can make running more difficult.

2. Trail

Trails are narrow paths through wooded areas or other natural landscapes. They can be rocky, hilly, or uneven, and the lingo associated with them includes:

  • Singletrack: A narrow trail that can only accommodate one runner at a time.
  • Doubletrack: A wider trail that can accommodate two runners side by side.
  • Switchback: A trail that zigzags up a steep incline.
  • Rock garden: A section of trail with many rocks that can be difficult to navigate.

3. Snow

Cross country skiing is often done on snow-covered terrain, which can be found in various locations such as parks, ski resorts, and backcountry areas. The lingo associated with snow terrain includes:

  • Grooming: The process of preparing snow for skiing by flattening, packing, and smoothing it.
  • Track: A set of parallel grooves in the snow that skiers follow.
  • Kick zone: The area on the bottom of a ski where a skier applies pressure to propel themselves forward.
  • Wax: A substance applied to the bottom of skis to control their grip and glide on the snow.

Overall, understanding the lingo associated with different terrain types can help cross country runners and skiers communicate more effectively and navigate their surroundings with greater ease.

Training Terminology

Cross country running requires a lot of training to achieve success. This section covers some of the common training terminology used in cross country running.

Base Mileage

Base mileage refers to the number of miles a runner runs per week during the off-season or the early stages of the training season. This mileage is usually lower than the peak mileage a runner will reach during the season. Base mileage helps build endurance and prepares the runner for more intense workouts later in the season.

Tempo Run

A tempo run is a workout where a runner runs at a steady pace for an extended period. The pace is usually faster than the runner’s easy pace but slower than their race pace. Tempo runs help improve a runner’s lactate threshold, which is the point where the body starts producing more lactic acid than it can clear. Running at this threshold helps the body get better at clearing lactic acid.

Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” It refers to a workout where a runner runs at different paces throughout the run. The runner might run at a fast pace for a minute, then slow down to an easy pace for a minute, then speed up again. Fartlek workouts are great for improving a runner’s speed and endurance.

Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are a workout where a runner runs up a hill at a hard effort, then jogs back down to the bottom and repeats. This workout helps improve a runner’s strength and power, which translates to better performance on hills during races.

Plyometrics

Plyometrics are exercises that involve explosive movements, such as jumping or bounding. These exercises help improve a runner’s power and speed. Plyometrics should be done with caution and under the guidance of a coach or trainer, as they can be high-impact and increase the risk of injury.

Overall, these are just a few examples of the training terminology used in cross country running. It’s important for runners to understand these terms and how they can help improve their performance.

Race Day Jargon

Cross country races have their own unique language that can be difficult for newcomers to understand. Here are some common race day jargons that every cross country runner should know:

1. Starting Box

Before the race begins, runners are assigned to a starting box based on their team’s ranking or seed time. The starting box is a designated area where runners line up at the start of the race.

2. Gun Time

The gun time is the official time of the race, and it starts when the starting gun goes off. The gun time is used to determine the overall winner of the race.

3. Chip Time

The chip time is the time it takes for a runner to cross the starting line to the finish line. Each runner wears a chip on their shoe that records their individual start and finish times.

4. Split Time

The split time is the time it takes for a runner to complete a portion of the race. Split times are often used to track a runner’s progress throughout the race.

5. Course Map

The course map is a diagram of the race course, including the starting line, finish line, and any obstacles or hills along the way. It is important for runners to study the course map before the race to prepare for any challenges they may face.

6. Water Station

During longer races, there may be one or more water stations along the course where runners can stop to hydrate. It is important for runners to stay hydrated during the race to avoid dehydration.

Knowing these common race day jargons can help cross country runners better understand the race and prepare for any challenges they may face.

Equipment and Gear Terms

Cross country running requires specific gear to ensure the runners’ safety and comfort during the race. Here are some common equipment and gear terms used in cross country running:

Spikes

Spikes are shoes with metal or plastic studs on the sole that provide traction on the grass, dirt, or mud surfaces. They come in various lengths, from 3/16 inch to 1/2 inch, depending on the terrain. Spikes are essential for cross country runners as they help them maintain their footing and prevent slipping.

Singlet

A singlet is a sleeveless shirt worn by cross country runners. It is made of lightweight, breathable material that wicks away sweat and keeps the runner cool during the race. Singlets come in various colors and designs, and some teams customize them with their logo or name.

Compression Shorts

Compression shorts are tight-fitting shorts worn by cross country runners. They provide support to the muscles, reduce muscle vibration, and increase blood flow, which helps prevent muscle fatigue and soreness. Compression shorts are made of stretchy, moisture-wicking material that keeps the runner dry and comfortable.

Water Bottle Belt

A water bottle belt is a belt worn around the waist that holds a water bottle. It is essential for long-distance runners as it allows them to hydrate during the race without having to stop at water stations. Water bottle belts come in various sizes and designs, and some have additional pockets for storing energy gels or snacks.

Timing Chip

A timing chip is a small, electronic device that is attached to the runner’s shoe or bib. It records the runner’s time as they cross the start and finish lines and at various checkpoints along the race course. Timing chips are used to determine the official race results and are essential for accurately tracking the runners’ performance.

Advanced Lingo

Cross country running has its own set of advanced lingo that is often used by coaches and experienced runners. Here are some of the most common advanced terms that you may encounter:

Negative Split

A negative split is a race strategy where the second half of the race is run faster than the first half. This strategy is often used by experienced runners to conserve energy and finish strong.

Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” It is a type of interval training where the runner varies their pace throughout the run. This type of training can help improve endurance and speed.

Tempo Run

A tempo run is a type of workout where the runner runs at a steady pace for a set distance or time. This type of training can help improve lactate threshold and endurance.

Strides

Strides are short bursts of speed that are done at the end of a run. They are typically 100 meters or less and are done at a controlled, but fast pace. Strides can help improve running form and speed.

Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are a type of workout where the runner runs up a hill at a fast pace and then jogs or walks back down to the bottom. This type of training can help improve strength and endurance.

VO2 Max

VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can use during exercise. This is an important measure of aerobic fitness and can be improved through training.

Overall, these advanced lingo terms are important for experienced runners and coaches to know. Incorporating these terms into training can help improve performance and achieve race goals.

Slang and Colloquial Terms

Cross country running has its own unique set of lingo and colloquial terms that only those in the sport may understand. Here are some common slang and colloquial terms used in cross country:

  • Kick – The final burst of speed a runner uses to finish a race strong.
  • Hill Repeats – Running up and down hills multiple times to build strength and endurance.
  • Negative Split – Running the second half of a race faster than the first half.
  • Bonk – When a runner hits a wall during a race and experiences a sudden loss of energy.
  • Fartlek – A Swedish word meaning “speed play,” in which runners alternate between periods of fast and slow running.
  • PR – Personal record, or a runner’s best time for a specific distance.
  • Pace – The speed at which a runner is running, usually measured in minutes per mile.
  • DNF – Did not finish, when a runner is unable to complete a race.
  • DNQ – Did not qualify, when a runner does not meet the qualifying standard to compete in a race.
  • Course Record – The fastest time ever run on a specific course.

These terms are often used by coaches and runners alike, and understanding them can help a runner better communicate and strategize during a race.

Conclusion

Recap

In this article, we have covered 50 common cross country lingo that every runner should know. From “kick” to “split”, these terms are essential for understanding and communicating about the sport.

We started with the basics, such as “warm-up” and “cool-down”, and moved on to more advanced terms like “fartlek” and “tempo run”. We also covered common race strategies, such as “negative split” and “surge”, as well as important metrics like “pace” and “heart rate”.

By understanding these terms, runners can better communicate with coaches, teammates, and competitors, as well as track their own progress and performance.

Further Resources

For those looking to dive deeper into the world of cross country running, there are plenty of resources available. Online forums and blogs can provide insights and advice from experienced runners, while training programs and coaching services can help athletes reach their goals.

Some recommended resources include:

  • Runner’s World – a popular magazine and website with articles, training plans, and community forums
  • LetsRun.com – a forum and news site focused on distance running, with a mix of amateur and professional content
  • CoachUp – a platform connecting athletes with private coaches for personalized training and advice

By continuing to learn and grow in their knowledge of cross country running, athletes can push themselves to new heights and achieve their full potential.

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