On the run: running vocabulary in Spanish

By bogotapost August 3, 2015
Spanish Slang, Colombian Spanish

Go on, get out there and get some exercise!

Katie Jacoby runs through all the language you need to correr or trotar with the best of them…

Running has become immensely popular in Bogota in recent years, providing runners with more and more local opportunities to both practise their sport and compete. If you’ve brought your running addiction with you from home, or even if you’re inspired to get into running here, you’ll certainly find lots of enthusiasts around town. Here’s some key vocabulary to see you through your running passion.

Running or jogging can be correr or trotar, both words being pretty interchangeable. They say hacer footing in Spain, but that strange phrase is not used here in Colombia. The sport of running in general is called atletismo (also the word for track and field) or el trote. If you’re a runner, you’re either a corredor/a or an atleta.

Most runners love to compete, a race being una carrera (a 5k or 10k is una carrera 5k/10k). A marathon is una maratón here, though it’s un maratón in some countries. All-round athletes may go in for the triatlón. Long-distance or cross-country endurance running is called carrera de fondo, while short sprints or dashes are called los sprints or known locally as piques.

The race starts with a ¡en sus marcas, listos, fuera!, called dar la largada in Spanish. A common way of saying to start (running or anything) is arrancar, and this is followed by setting a pace, your ritmo or paso. Want to go faster? Your verb is acelerar (la velocidad). Need to slow down? Your verb is bajar la velocidad. If going faster means passing another runner, the verb is pasar, sobrepasar, or adelantar. The finish line is la meta, and crossing it is cruzar la meta or pasar la meta. You did it!

Yo aceleré y pasé a Carolina. “I sped up and passed Carolina.”

Beyond official medals and race rankings, every runner will know and keep track of their own PBs and best times, or récord personal. Your times are your tiempos. There isn’t any set phrase for a runner’s high in Spanish, but words like euforia get the idea across.

When someone runs very fast, you can say here in Colombia that they have pique de choro, pique de raponero, or simply pique de ladrón. Choro, raponero, and ladrón are all ways of saying thief (the first two are very local). Piques are races and are the local word used for illegal drag races at night. So, if you say that someone has pique de choro, you’re saying that they run really fast… as if they indeed were a professional thief.

Los últimos 300 metros los corrí con pique de raponero. “I ran the last 300 metres at top speed.”
En la carrera Juan tuvo un pique de choro con el que me dejó botado al final. “Juan had an incredible burst of speed that left me for dust at the end of the race.”

You can run on all different kinds of terrenos, or surfaces. Some have pendientes, or inclines, which will then mean subidas and bajadas, or uphill and downhill sections. A running track is una pista, and laps around a track are vueltas. Or maybe you prefer to practise on una caminadora – a treadmill.

Training is entrenar, and estirar (stretching), calentar (warming up), and enfriar (cooling down) are important parts of the process. Many recommend that beginners intercalar (alternate) walking with running.

Make sure to always drink plenty of water so you don’t get deshidratado. You’ll also want to watch out for calambres (cramps), ampollas (blisters), or irritación (chafing). One very Colombian expression for a common problem is “bazo” – literally meaning spleen, this word describes when you feel a sharp side cramp or stitch. You can say, me dio bazo or tengo bazo. Injuries are lesiones, with an esguince (sprained ankle) being one of the most common. Another common serious injury in sports is tearing your ACL, and in Spanish you’d say me desgarré el ligamento cruzado anterior.

I saw a lot of signs for the PET RUN the other week, and though I rolled my eyes at the English, I understood why sponsors would condense the mouthful that is carrera de mascotas to the succinct six-letter PET RUN. So, whether you run solo, with a partner, or with Firulais, I’ll see you on the trail!

Katie Jacoby is a Spanish-English translator and has been in Colombia for 3 years. Feel free to leave her a comment or ideas for future columns on her language website, vocabat.com.