“Got some Gu? I don’t want to bonk when we do fartleks.”  Understanding the runners’ language is like trying to understand your teen’s text messages! It’s a whole other language and it can be very confusing. So what does it all mean? I can’t help you with the texting thing, but here’s the scoop on some running terms.

GU – is a Berkeley-based sports nutritional product launched in 1991. It was the world’s first energy gel and is still the most efficient sports fuel available today. GU’s patented carbohydrate blend delivers high-quality, easily-digested and long-lasting energy for athletes in every sport and at all levels. The company started with original GU  Energy Gel, a revolutionary and more effective method to keep athletes fueled during exercise and speed their recovery from exertion.  For workout longer than an hour your need a Gu or two or you might bonk!. (Note: there are other  gels on the market but many runners still refer to all packed gels as “GU”.

Bonking: Most runners have or will likely experience “bonking”. Or brains get most of their fuel from sugar in the bloodstream.  When sugar levels drop, the brain cannot get enough fuel to function properly. A runner will feel tired and confused and in some cases can pass out. I remember being close to bonking and I couldn’t remember where I was on the run course! Lack of sugar to the brain, which can only store enough sugar in your bloodstream to last three minutes, makes us pretty stupid. Sort of like being drunk without the party! So, to keep your blood sugar level from dropping, your liver must constantly release sugar from its cells into your bloodstream, but there is only enough sugar in your liver to last 12 hours at rest. During intense exercise, your muscles draw sugar from your bloodstream at a rapid rate, Your liver can run out of its stored sugar and your blood sugar level can drop and you BONK! So cheers with a few GUs or other fast acting carbohydrates!

Fartleks: Okay, not the most eloquent sounding word! Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a form of conditioning which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress.  Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.

Intervals: Intervals are similar to Fartleks but shorter in distance. Intervals are generally done at the following distances: 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m and 1 mile.  Intervals are speed work and they will teach your body to run faster! Set your intervals relative to your race distance – longer intervals fro longer races and shorter intervals for shorter races. The intervals should be faster than your race pace! For example: 1200m- 1 mile 3-5% faster, 600-800m 8-12% faster and 200m 12-15%. You have to allow fro recovery time in between intervals.

Tempo: Tempo runs are similar to intervals but are longer, 20-40 minutes, at race pace or slightly below. For 10k run a tempo run might be shorter in duration, 20-30 minutes, and for half marathons and marathons, 30-40 minutes. They can also be broken into sets. For examples: 2 x 20 minutes at 10k pace with 5-10 minute rest.

Active Rest: This doesn’t mean you grab the remote and down a beer! Active rest is the recovery in between intervals. You want to keep the muscles arm and your heart rate elevated.

Hopefully, this well give you enough information to help “speak run”.  So get out there and enjoy a great run!