Common Running Acronyms You Should Know

How to Get Up To Speed on Running Lingo

group of runners

Have you heard fellow runners talk about the race they just ran in which they ran their PB and BQ'd? What do all of these acronyms mean?

Common Running Acronyms and Their Translation

Like many athletes, runners have their own lingo which includes many acronyms for running terms. If you've felt out-of-touch listening to friend's describe their running, you're not alone. But we can get you up to speed quickly, and you don't even need to don 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 oldest consecutively run marathon, the Boston Marathon has very tough qualifying time standards that marathon runners must achieve in another marathon in order to gain entry to the Boston Marathon. Running a BQ means that a runner met the qualifying time standard. In order to run the Boston Marathon, they still need to apply for one of the limited spots in the race.

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! If this hasn't yet happened to you, you can take some consolation when it does that DNF happens often enough that it deserves an acronym.

DNS—Did Not Start

The acronym DNS is sometimes listed in race results when a racer was entered in 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

For those who remember the 60's, it's important to define the acronym LSD. 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. Now that you know the meaning of LSD, learn about how to get the most out of your long runs.

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 PR (see below.)

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. Note: 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."

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. If you're serious about running, you may be interested in learning about some of the benefits of cross-training for runners.


Not an acronym, but a term not always understood with regard to running is side-lined. Unfortunately, being side-lined 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, due to an 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.

Check out these tips on coping when you are side-lined. Check out these tips on returning to running after a break as well as these recovery tips for runners who are injured.

Bottom Line on Running Acronyms

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.

Knowing the acronyms, however, is only a start. Check out these tips on what not to say to runners before you begin uttering acronyms.

And finally, once you've taken to the track and know the lingo, when can you include yourself in the fraternity (or sorority) known as runners? Well, you will know your are a runner when...


Hulme, A., Nielson, R., Timpka, T., Verhagen, E., and C. Finch. Risk and Protective Factors for Middle- and Long-Distance Running-Related Injury. Sports Medicine. 2017. 47(5):869-886.