Know Your OOB From Your Splits: 10 Things You Need To Know To Start Speedrunning

Speedrunning is the act of finishing a game as fast as possible, but with so many established rules and regulations and categories and strats it’s simply ignorant to not do some research first.
Captain America Meme Template with Speedrun Text
Time to go back to school for a few minutes

Maybe a friend mentioned it, maybe you saw a streamer try one or a World Record run on Youtube, or maybe you heard about Games Done Quick and realised Speedrunning is a pretty big thing. Luckily all you need is a copy of the game and a walkthrough of the route, right? Right?

Well, actually it’s a bit harder than that. Speedrunning is the act of finishing a game as fast as possible, but with so many established rules and regulations and categories and strats it’s simply ignorant to not do some research first.

Finding a guide you can comprehend without prior knowledge on the terminology, methods and general mood of Speedrunning is going to be tough and might dissuade you from trying.

Here are the terminologies and tips for starting your first Speedrun and jump into the community. 

1. Learn the Lingo of Speedruns

While not quite qualifying as a second language, the Jargon of sports and hobbies is often a deep dark hole that feels like descending into a mine without a pickaxe or source of light while the tide comes in, and the mine is on a beach. What follows is a quickfire definition race of all the phrases you’ll see in this article and what they mean!

Speedrunning Terms:

Categories: Speedrun Categories are a title for a run that define what rules and conditions the Speedrunner is following and when the run ends.

Run: A run is a single attempt at completing whatever goals your chosen category has. The run will have a set start and end condition.

Splits: The timer measuring the run is split into segments just like an actual race. Splits measure each part of the run individually so even if the run is overall very slow, you can see where specifically you were fastest and where you were slowest.

Skips: A basic Speedrunning term for the act of skipping a part of the game, particularly one that would otherwise be required. Getting past a boss without killing it, or moving to the other side of a door without a key are examples of Skips.

Exploits: Exploits are Strategies that Speedrunners use to make the game as easy and quick as possible. These are particularly powerful or “broken” mechanics in the game that a specific set of inputs or equipment triggers. For example, killing a boss from outside its boss room, or gaining infinite jumps in a platformer game by combining moves.

Inputs: The act of pressing buttons on a controller or keys on a keyboard. Some skips and exploits require inputs to be done in under a second or in another set time, while some require simultaneous inputs.

OOB: Standing for Out-Of-Bounds, this abbreviation defines any situation in which the character goes outside the normally playable area. Going through a wall to jump back into the game area later, for example.

Pace: Just like a real race or run, Speedruns have pace. A combination of Splits and overall time, Pace is a general measure of how the run is going and if it has PB potential.

PB: Personal best. Not just the overall time, but individual splits have PB’s too! So you can still benefit from an awful run if one split is a PB.

Traffic Light System: You can set up your timers how you like, but a general rule is Green times are faster and red are slower. Beyond that, you can use Gold to show a Personal Best and other colours to show if you are gaining or losing time.

Frame-Perfect: Some splits and exploits require inputs at specific times. Frames are the way games are presented, ideally at 60 frames per second. A Frame-Perfect, therefore, is what you’d expect, an input that needs to occur on a single frame to work.

RNG: Standing for Random Number Generator, RNG simply resembles any situation in which the player cannot manipulate or otherwise engage with the game beyond luck. If you have a 25% chance to get an item and there’s not exploit that can change that or any strategy that guarantees it, it’s down to RNG.

Strat/s: Short for Strategies/Strategy. Almost everything that deviates from the base game is a Speedrun Strat. If you kill a boss in a specific way, do specific jumps, grab specific power-ups etc they are all Speedrun Strats. Some normal playthroughs might use a couple of Speedruns strats by accident! Animation cancels for example.

Techs: Another term for strats that specifically Minecraft runners seem to like.

Reset: If a run is beyond saving and you don’t want the splits you can opt to “Reset” and just kill the run, starting again.

VOD’s: While not specifically Speedrun-related, VOD’s or Videos on Demand are the best way to see and learn from Runs. These are archives recordings of World Records or Strat Tutorials.

Burnout: No, not the racing game! Burnout is the term for grinding so much that the run becomes boring and a chore, and you lose motivation. Avoiding Burnout is vital.

Grind/ing: Speedrunning requires a lot of practice, so the term grinding is often used to describe constantly running and re-running for practice.

Force-quit / Quit-out: The act of crashing the game or quitting to the menu to manipulate the game when you return. This can avoid deaths, manipulate enemy AI or otherwise trigger other unusual effects.

The reason you use all these terms is so you can do the next thing properly:

2. Fully Research The Game You Want To Speedrun

Choosing a game to run is a daunting task. You’ve likely seen some runs, have games you are really into right now, and maybe even tried a couple of skips. The important thing to remember is to not just look at the present, but the past too. If you’ve spent 500+ hours in a game and still want excuses to go back and play more then Speedrunning can very well be that excuse, and you’ll have a solid base of knowledge for the game after so long playing.

A great way to choose a game to speedrun is to look at your playtime in your library. A second way is to try and list your favorite games and narrow down your search to that list. Yet another way is to watch world record runs that have been done recently to get a feel for a new game or run.

A Screenshot of my game collector badge on steam
With my library being one of the smaller ones on Steam, you are spoilt for choice when choosing
a game to run

When you eye a game for a speedrun you must look up the strats and big skips for that game, and famous runs. Always watch the world record on You might not be going for it (you shouldn’t be yet) but it’s good to see what the best looks like before making your own imitation.

An imitation of the best is going to be better than starting from scratch. You also make sure, by properly watching the runs, that you don't start learning a route just to get to a section you disagree with.

If you want a game with more long-term time saves then don’t choose something with too many menus or conversations, as these generally involve very fast and very precise button inputs in just a matter of seconds. Once you narrow down what games you might want to Speedrun the community has amazing help available in the form of Speedrun Categories.

Each game you can speedrun will likely have at least 2 or 3 categories, so once you’ve chosen a game you still have plenty of options and variations depending on what style of run you want.

3. Familiarise yourself with Speedrun Categories

Speedrunning, the act of completing a game as quickly as possible, sounds like it should be a pretty straightforward one-and-done affair. However, the large variety of categories are vital to the longevity and enjoyment of Speedruns. Categories are simply the specific set of rules and conditions a Speedrunner must meet to finish the run and stop the timer.

When most people imagine a Speedrun the first thought they have is playing the game super fast, maybe running past certain enemies and not doing side quests. It’s unlikely someone unaffiliated with the community will think of the things in this article! Here’s a breakdown of some very common categories so you know what you are getting into and how it differs from that basic expectation you might have…

Glitchless Any%:

Let’s start with the one most easily accessible to someone who has no idea what these words mean. One Speedrun Category is “Glitchless”. Glitchless Speedruns runs are, rather helpfully, runs that do not allow glitches and certain strategies in the run. The idea is the game remains “intact” and the runner has to manage going fast while also being restrained by the normal rules of the game.

We’ll see later that often, Speedrunning has its own set of rules than the base game. In Glitchless runs you will not be able to do skips or Out Of Bounds, and may even lose access to certain simple exploits depending on the game and category!

Speedrun categories are generally broken down into their “Type”, for example “Glitchless” and then their completion goal, for example “Any%”. Any% means the Speedrunner can complete any amount of the game they choose before the credits roll and the run stops.

This might mean a player goes to no optional areas to shorten the run, but it might also mean they do very specific pieces of optional content to get weapons or abilities that make later sections far easier and thus overall, despite being a “longer” route, makes the run faster.

Force-Quit Any%

A second category example is this: Force-Quit Any%. Just like before we have been given a completion goal, any%, but his time the rules are not “Glitchless”. If a run is not defined as glitchless then it will include all the skips and strats the runner can possibly find. In certain games, even glitchless runs have variation, however, which is where categories like this come from.

While both a standard Any% run and a Force-Quit Any% run use glitches and exploits, only the Force-Quit runs can use that specific strat (Remember we defined Force Quit earlier!). Once you understand what the run for your game looks like you will be able to understand these categories much more easily as you will know what strats are likely to be specified in the category name.


Not all Speedrun categories will rely on the credits rolling for their completion goal. Some are more thorough and will end on another condition. In the case of an “All-Achievements” Speedrun the player must gain every single Achievement/Trophy in a game to complete the run, regardless of how they progress the game. This adds time to a run and more opportunities to show off planning, efficiency, and new strats.

Often All-Achievement runs will be quite mathematical and meticulous but also have a huge number of time-saves as the runs are so huge and interconnected to multiple achievements that seconds or minutes will always be able to be shaved off. A normal All-Achievements run includes all the usual arsenal of glitches and exploits to achieve your run, but theoretically a “Glitchless All-Achievements” could exist if someone had the time and planning to make a short run from that restriction.

These three examples give you a good variety of category names to look at and understand the structure of. Once you know the form they usually take you will begin instinctively knowing and using the terms of Categories out of habit. You might discover you love Any% and hate All-Bosses or All-Achievement runs and that’s fine, categories will always be there to set the restrictions or freedoms you personally want in your Speedrun experience.

4. Stop Planning your Speedrun, Start Playing It!

Man sitting at desk with monitor playing game
Sit back, headset on, get started

Like any sport or activity you have to be able to practice, grind it out

Getting into a Speedrun involves an investment of technicality and research and even learning from competition or partners by watching their runs. But, mostly Speedruns are about practice and consistency.

Like any sport or activity you have to be able to practice, grind it out, and progress all the while enjoying it. You can do all the research you like but if when you have a controller in your hand or WASD at your fingertips you can’t sit down and commit to a run or to practice then Speedrunning isn’t for you.

Just because Speedrunners complete the game fastest doesn’t mean their total playtime or journey to get there was fast! It can take over a year to learn a run to Top 10 Level, and then even longer to maintain your place as you’ll see it on, the hub of all run times and categories internationally. The link above will give you access to all of their resources like timers and recording software.

A response to the Speedrunning Discourse

I’m sure you’ll have seen people online harp on about how “*I* prefer to experience my games completely, take my time, get every minute of content I can and definitely not *skip* any content like these ‘Speedrunners’” then they snort and go off feeling superior about their artistic valuation of the game.

What those people fail to get, and what you as a Speedrunner need to understand, is that Speedrunners play the game through “Normally” at least twice before running it.

In fact, it’ll likely be a game they keep going back to replay and therefore becomes a bit predictable, so Speedrunning actually offers *extra* playtime. When someone would normally get bored or have completed everything Speedrunners say “I want more” and go to absurd lengths to keep the game fresh.

This is why game research was important at the start of this article, the game you choose has to be one you know and vibe with and genuinely want to be playing. I love the Shadow of the Colossus Speedrun but I had never completed it before and went straight into learning the run. It was an awful, ignorant plan that taught me exactly what not to do, so don’t make the same mistake! Speaking of mistakes:

5. Learn to Live With Mistakes

This one sounds incredibly profound, and it can be depending on how much you want your running to affect your general mindset I suppose. The basic idea is that in a Run you can easily lose time, hell even lose the run completely, to basically anything.

There’ll be the big-hitting “Run-killers” that you are looking out for but even between those, every misstep or bad roll of RNG or muscle memory suddenly going can kill the run. When a run dies like this, particularly if you’ve been running the game only a few weeks, you need to carry on. You take the hit, you accept it won’t be as good as before, but you finish the run.

Self-improvement is what running is all about

Livesplit timer for Zelda
 Livesplit is the universally used timer to see
your times get shaved and your PB's get

Living with the bad runs is vital to getting your mindset able to grind out full runs and also vital to practice itself. If a certain midgame skip or boss keeps ending your run and you reset, you’re never gonna get to practice the second half of the game. The feeling of banking a complete run and having a time for it is worth far more to you as an early runner than trying to perfect an early game skip.

That’s without even mentioning that finishing a complete run for the first time gives you times to run against! You can then stop comparing yourself to the runners you are learning from, and focus on beating your PB. Self-improvement is what running is all about because beating yourself is the only way to beat anyone else.

6. Learn From the Best Speedrunners is a resource already collated and linked out to almost every runner in the world. Use that tool. The people behind the Speedrunning community are so passionate and dedicated, and you can validate all the effort they have put in! has records, tutorials, full run VODS, category descriptions and more. All this information is free and there whenever you need it which as a new runner should be all the time. This page in particular gives you links to free software for measuring your times and recording the run.

You can even use it to find games you might not have considered and remember playing years ago, and discovering a niche Speedrun that you’ll really enjoy and excel at. A very, very wise man once said “Everyone is smarter than you in something. And if you don’t figure out what it is and learn from it, that’s your fault.”

7. Only Speedrun Because You Want To

This seems obvious when you type it out like that, huh? Well, it’s overlooked by even some of the best runners out there. They start on games they are passionate about but can burn out, or switch games and not realise how important the game was rather than just Speedrunning in general.

You don’t have to do some big-brain “Doubt everything you know” approach, but it’s a good idea nonetheless to address your own sources of enjoyment and passion. It took me running Dark Souls Remastered for a couple of months before I realised I prefer running glitchless runs of linear games. It’s specific, but if I ever decide to run something I’ll know what I like now.

I think it harkens back to my childhood and teens when I played one game over and over and over for maximum playtime, but was too young to really know about glitches and Speedrunning.

So I just kept grinding out playthroughs getting faster each time, learning exactly what weapons to use when and which side-quests gave which rewards etc. I played Ratchet and Clank 2 so much I even knew how much ammo across all my different weapons I’d need for entire planets.

Excitement and fun from learning is exactly the sort of energy you need to have

Borderlands 1 Screencap from Steam
The fact I can tell where this screenshot was taken is proof of the passion and playtime you have for a game to then think about Speedrunning it

I remember my brother and I were able to complete Borderlands 1 coop in around 8 hours and that was with most side quests if not all of them (And obviously glitchless as we were just two teens playing Borderlands together not Speedrunners).

The vehicle-based area gave you all the quests at once; We had a route in-built in our heads and muscle memory that would complete every quest and land us back at the bounty board in about an hour.

All that excitement and fun from learning all that is exactly the sort of energy you need to have for Speedrunning. It was genuinely just a joy to do and the self-improvement aspect is the only real reason we got it nailed down so far.

8. Talk About Speedrunning, Talk About Your Passions With Others

This one sounds unrelated, and I’m not endorsing that you become that weird friend that only ever talks about their fastest run or anything like that. What I am suggesting, however, is that you keep your mind on your runs just loosely while chatting online or playing other games with people.

You don’t want to burn out, and injecting that social aspect and sharing your excitement and progress with others can really reinvigorate you and stave off Burning Out. It’s like when I spend 2 hours making Handouts for DnD and they are appreciated in the session, it’s a validation and a sign that actually you should keep doing what you are doing!

A Group of Friends Talking in the Sun
You and your friends when you tell them you found a way to shave half a second off of the final segment of your run

So make sure you are giving yourself those social breaks but still keeping the run in mind in a positive light. The moment you start to feel like the grind is against you, like it’s pressuring you, is the moment you need to take a step back and chat about the runs or simply play something else for a bit. It is possible to push through burnout but it isn’t something you’re going to want to make a habit of and will harm your runs in the long-term.

9. Work Out How To Break a Videogame

It’s time for round 2 of Jargon! To really know how to break a game you have to start by knowing the fundamental ideas in the game design that lead to exploits, strats and such. Players have to route Speedruns themselves when a game releases, and if you aren’t aware of certain game design tropes you’ll have a hell of hard time knowing where to start.

Playing about with accessing areas early, going OOB, skipping animations and such are all great introductions to routing a run. See how quitting-out works in your chosen game. See how buffs stack and if any create indefinite loops. Learning about Hitbox Geometry and Invisible Walls and such can also help identify possible strats, and better perform strats you learn online.

If a strat calls for you to jump a specific way off a ledge it can be worth looking into why, from a design perspective.

If the reason is an invisible boundary designed to stop the player, how can you use the geometry of that wall to your advantage?

Can you get on top of it?

Around it?

The problem changes from “How do I skip half this entire game?” to “How do I get over this one wall?” which is far more manageable.

As I said, you give yourself a place to start by just understanding some basic design.

World Edge message from Oblivion
Screw you Todd Howard, we go where we need to for the run and your invisible walls can't stop us:

See, invisible walls have nothing on Speedrunners

Some things you don’t need to fully understand of course, like the Titanite Chunk Stack glitch in Dark Souls. You need to be able to arrange your inventory and input the menu commands right, but not actually understand why Stack Overflow is happening or what it is. You input the commands and wait for your titanite, easy.

Conversely, for a skip that involves OOB or strange platforming understanding, knowledge of invisible walls and the physics engine is vital for success. Without experimentation with the engine and gameplay, we wouldn't have the glorious flying bucket in the clip above. When you are doing anything outside of a menu input you will benefit from this engagement with the reasons for a skip being is how it is.

In some cases you can even make the invisible, visible through tools! Places like resources provide tools that make invisible walls and environment shapes visible rather than hidden under textures. This can help get your jumps into the invisible walls practiced. Obviously, disable the tool when you make a full run! Identifying triggers for cutscenes, story progress, etc can also be of great help in routing.

For example, there’s no point trying for hours to find a skip around a boss that needs to be triggered as dead anyway for the game to let you progress so save yourself the effort and look more into combat exploits for the boss rather than skips around it.

10. Drink Lots of Water While Speedrunning

Water with a leaf next to a laptop
Rate my set-up. Okay seriously though what's with
the random leaf? Use a tankard for your water in
long sessions.

Okay, okay this is generic life advice but seriously when the grind takes you and the PB is just a few seconds away and you just want to restart and get it in the bag and claim your serotonin…stop and check you have liquid near you. Staying hydrated will stop you from getting a headache from the screen and concentration, and keep your brain active on what you need it for.

Hydration will also oxygenate your body better and let your fingers react as fast as your brain needs them to, leading to better inputs and therefore faster runs. Worse comes to worst you need to go to the bathroom after every run but that’s preferable to being wiped out after a day of practice.

Even I won’t go so far as to say Speedrunning is some sort of Athletic sport, but your mind and body really do get applied to a run and it’s important to respect that, and respect that your body going through this for you and for the run.

Ready, Set, Go

So there we have it. With these 10 things in mind, you’re armed to join the Speedrun Community and start having a blast with your runs! Take your time and research your game, find categories you like, commit to the grand and avoid burnout, keep hydrated.

Most importantly, communicate! Speedrunning has a vibrant community that has always been there to answer questions, provide links, work on routes and tools or otherwise troubleshoot with you. We’re a passionate bunch, and we’re always happy for new blood to mix up the run.

Asking Discord groups or on, or simply visiting the streamers themselves and asking what resources they personally use for that run are all great ways to engage in the hobby.

With what you have learned here you are more than ready to get into the thrill of Speedrunning, and I wish you good RNG in all your efforts.

Passionate Hobbyist (Gaming of any kind, D&D, all that nerdy stuff). First and foremost always an enjoyer of art and media.

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