Common Running Acronyms You Should Know

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Runners have their own lingo which includes many acronyms for running terms. Your running friends toss around PB and BQ like everyone knows what they mean. If you've felt out-of-touch, you're not alone. But you can get up to speed quickly, and you don't even need to put on your running shoes. Here are some translations for some common running acronyms.

BQ—Boston Qualify

When runners say they "BQ'd", it means that they ran a Boston marathon qualifying time. The Boston Marathon is the oldest consecutively-run marathon and it has very tough qualifying time standards. A runner has to achieve the time standard for their age and gender in a qualifying marathon in order to apply for entry to the Boston Marathon. Running a BQ means that a runner met the qualifying time standard. It's a great goal in itself, even if you don't get one of the limited number of slots for the Boston Marathon.

DNF—Did Not Finish

The acronym DNF is listed in race results when a racer started the race but did not finish. If you've been running long enough, you've probably had at least one DNF in a race. You can take some consolation that DNF happens often enough that it deserves an acronym. You probably have a sad story to tell of an injury or emergency that kept you from crossing the finish line.

DNS—Did Not Start

The acronym DNS is sometimes listed in race results when a racer was registered for a race but did not start. This helps make the distinction between those who didn't attempt the race and those who attempted the race but were unable to finish.

LSD—Long Slow Distance

It's not the hallucinogen—it's a long slow distance run. Often seen on training schedules, LSD runs are an important part of training for a race, especially half-marathons or marathons. Many runners like to do their LSD on the weekends because they have more time to dedicate to a long run.

PB—Personal Best

When someone refers to their PB, they're talking about their best time at a specific race distance. For example, "My PB in the 5K is 19:26." It can be used interchangeably with a personal record (PR).

PR—Personal Record

Another way to refer to your best race time at a specific distance is to use the acronym PB. Whether it's your PB (personal best) or PR (personal record), this a good acronym to memorize. While either acronym is acceptable, PR is used more commonly in the United States, while Canadian runners seem to prefer PB.

One difference is that PR can be used as a verb as well as a noun. For example, "I totally PR'd in my half marathon last weekend." This is one acronym which can get you up to speed in the running community quickly. In fact, if you've only run one race, you already have your PR. It's not mandatory to quote a time along with your PR.

PW—Personal Worst

Although some runners don't like to keep track of them, PWs refer to a runner's worst time at a specific distance. For example, "That half-marathon was my PW." For consolation, PW beats DNF, which beats DNS.

XT—Cross-Training (or X Training)

Cross-training is any activity other than running that's part of your training, such as biking, swimming, yoga, strength-training, etc. Cross-training has many benefits in giving you better all-around fitness, and it can enhance your running performance.


Sidelined is not an acronym, but the term not always understood with regard to running. Unfortunately, being sidelined is a common problem for most serious runners at some point, and is translated to mean unable to run for a period of time. It can be due to an illness, injury, or a number of life events which are unplanned but important. Taking a break from running no matter the cause can be traumatic emotionally. It can also slow you down physically. You will need coping strategies when you are sidelined. Once you are ready to return to running after a break you will need to ease back into your usual running schedule.

A Word From Verywell

While knowing the common running acronyms won't improve your times in the race, you may have a better time taking part in your conversations with other runners. Once you've taken to the track and know the lingo, you can include yourself in the fraternity (or sorority) known as runners.

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