Why Are So Many Running Phrases Negative?

Running Phrases

I felt like I was channeling my inner Andy Rooney with this admittedly rather curmudgeonly post, but sometimes I just can’t get an idea out of my head…


I was recently looking up phrases with the word ‘run’ or ‘running’ in them, because… well… that’s the sort of thing I do.

As I was going through the list, I was a little taken aback at how many of them were negative:

  • Running late
  • Make a run for it
  • Running out of time
  • Running out of money
  • Have the runs
  • Running away
  • Running on empty 
  • Hit and run
  • You can run, but you can’t hide
  • Running amok
  • Run overtime
  • Run-on sentence
  • Running low of something
  • Run along
  • On the run 
  • Give someone the runaround
  • Run someone through
  • Having a run-in with someone
  • A disease that runs in the family
  • Stop running at the mouth
  • Having a runoff
  • He’s running for political office
  • The red sock ran in the wash and turned everything pink
  • Her tights had a run in them
  • Running out of patience
  • Run out of something 
  • She gave him a run for his money
  • Running short 
  • Having a run on the bank
  • Running wild

I’m not sure what to make of all this negativity regarding the word ‘run.’ I’m sure there is some grand linguistic reason for this, but in my (admittedly brief) research, I couldn’t come up with it.

As a runner, I feel like I should be a little offended.

Sure, it’s a useful, all-purpose word (just consider the wide variety of contexts it’s used in that list), but if it’s just that, why aren’t there as many positive running phrases?

Phrases like ‘run something by you’ or ‘hit the ground running’ aren’t really positive, but they are the few neutral phrases I came up with.

Runner’s Running Phrases

Then there are the phrases that actually relate to running:

  • Going for a run
  • Running another lap
  • In it for the long run

I’m sure most non-runners would consider those phrases negative too. Heck, I’m a runner and even I dread hearing ‘let’s run another lap.’

Even so, I’ll resist categorizing ‘I’m going for a run’ as either positive or negative. My opinion on that can vary greatly by the day. 

Read More
Do I Love Running

What about you? What do you think most ‘running’ phrases are so negative?

Running Phrases

Sara is a runner, running coach, writer, blogger, and a lover of all things written.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge