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The Language of Fitness 101

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If you've never had the opportunity to let "demarche" slip into social conversation, you should try it.

Nobody ever knows what it means and you get immediate street cred when you try to explain the term in a way a regular person can understand.

People just shake their heads and wonder if they would have been better off keeping the Mercedes instead of dropping it off a cliff, which is basically what a year's tuition at any of the Ivy Leagues feels like.

But you don't have to work in foreign affairs to sound worldly.

I've started training for my first marathon, and after reading about the benefits of hiring an online running coach, I reached out to the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project in Arizona. Recently I had a live conversation with Coach Ann so we could get to know each other.

"How often do you incorporate fartleks into your training?" Ann asked me.

Ann doesn't exactly know that I'm basically new to running - and exercise for that matter - as I only began my fitness journey a year ago.

I was (mostly) honest on my fitness profile, focusing on my two recent half marathons as if there were others and noting how clutch strength training is for me as if I'd been using clutch in a sentence all my life.

I want my coach to treat me like a badass.

Does she need to know that I refer to the TRX Rows as "Rosie" because I thought it was the TRX Rose?

"I'm just beginning to think about ways to switch up my workouts," I said, as I sat at my laptop frantically searching online for fartsomething.

"Do you recommend them?" I asked, buying a few more seconds.

Wow, "fart-leks," there they are, the top entry as soon as I typed "fart."

"A system of training ... in which the terrain and pace are continually varied to eliminate boredom and enhance psychological aspects of conditioning."

They can do that? They sound genius.

"Yes, I am definitely open to incorporating fartleks," I told Ann, who said we could put them in on Thursdays.

"They'll work well in combination with your LSDs."

LSDs? Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds? I started typing "LSD running..." Ah hah! Long slow distance!

Really? Is there any other kind?

"Great, let's do fartleks," I said, "they sound perfect."

Once I committed to adding marathon finisher to my bio, I decided I needed to reinvent my fitness identity.

Instead of being seen as a gym rat in a midlife crisis, I thought I might be able to go undercover as a runner. So in addition to Coach Ann, I've got a new trainer and a new physical therapist, and I've added a sports nutritionist.

Same husband.

When I told the new physical therapist the running coach was recommending fartleks, he asked me what kind of intervals I was doing.

"Tempos?" he asked.

I looked that one up at home. A tempo is faster, or harder, than your LSD run, but considered a comfortable, hard workout, as opposed to a comfortable, easy workout. Since the only comfortable, easy workout for me is either no workout or walking, I figure I'm queen of the tempo.

I didn't have to look up intervals. I tried them once on a snowy afternoon on the treadmill. They're great. I went hard for 1 minute and did some Under Armour shopping during my 5-minute recovery. You can do Amazon and Zappos in 5 minutes too.

My new trainer is awesome. She's all about making sure everyone's on the same page concerning my exercise prescription, which is different from the prescription I just picked up at CVS.

"How are you with your RDLs?" she asked me at our first session.

Romanian Dead Lifts. I know about these. I hate them.

"We've been using kettle bells. But we also focused on Nordic curls," I said, trying to shift the conversation to Scandinavia.

"My goal is to get you to love RDLs," she said with raised eyebrows. "Once you love them you'll be sad when you get to your RM."

As in "repetition maximum," or how many reps you can do before you fail. Getting to failure usually refers to weight training but it also applies to exercising without weights. When I'm doing regular, standard push-ups, for example, I'll go until my muscles fail and then immediately drop to my knees.

Let's just say in my 9-to-5 world, getting to failure simply doesn't come up. In the gym? It takes intelligence to fail.

Then she asked me about my hydration plan.

My hydration plan?

Last year when I talked to our landscaper about a hydration plan, we were weighing the pros and cons of putting in an underground sprinkler system.

"The nutritionist has me hydrating every four miles on a long run and practically every four hours except when I'm sleeping," I said. Except I'm never actually sleeping because on a great hydration day I'm sprinting every two hours from my pillow to the bathroom.

For a second I thought she might be interested in an article I came across in Women's Health about peeing tips in public for women. But then we were moving on to hip abductions, which is different, you know, from the kind that involves law enforcement and maybe a demarche.