Way back in the early days of my blog, I planned to write a post defining the many words, acronyms, and phrases we runners use that not just everyone understands. You know, like bandit, taper, bloody nipples, splits, LSD, two a days, BQ, the wall, or training cycle, but I quickly realized that had been overdone by many other bloggers. Perhaps the most detailed list was put together by Runner’s World in their Guide To Common Running Terms, so if you’re curious, be sure to check it out.

Today’s blog post has been setting on the back burner as a draft for nearly three years until I recently decided to finish it, but with a little twist. My revamped post focuses on a few more obscure words that runners can appreciate.  



I think it’s fair to say that many runners are callipygian. Whether or not becoming callipygian is a goal of runners, it’s often a delightful result of logging all of those miles! So what does the adjective callipygian mean? It means having sculpted or shapely buttocks. 🙂


I first heard the word niggle when one of my readers from Australia used it in a comment on my blog. Since it was a new word to me, I quickly looked it up and thought how perfectly it fits into our running vocabulary. A niggle is something that causes a persistent annoyance or discomfort and we runners become anxious when we suddenly have discomfort in any body part. I think it’s fair to say that we immediately fear the worst and assume that any little niggle will turn into a huge sidelining injury.



Cynefin is a Welsch word describing a place where a person feels at home and where they belong. For trail runners, a secluded trail in the middle of a forest is the cynefin where they feel right and at peace.



Perhaps fartlek isn’t as obscure as the previous words, but many average runners very likely have never heard of it – just running geeks who race and read running blogs throw around the word fartlek. Running fartleks is a great way to gain speed, but the average person will do a double take if you say you plan to do some fartleks after work. Fartleks is simply a Swedish word that means speed play and it’s a great way to get faster without doing an organized speed session.   


  • Questions:
  • What obscure words do you use, running or otherwise?
  • Was the word callipygian in your vocabulary? ~ I once used it in a blog post and most of my readers had not heard of it before. They got a big kick out of its definition when they looked it up!
  • What is your favorite word or phrase runners use?