And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.
On this program, we explore words and expressions in the English language. We give definitions, examples, and notes on usage.
Today we are talking about expressions that come from two very different types of races – a marathon and a sprint.
A marathon is a foot race that happens over a long distance. It is a test of endurance. A sprint is a short race and tests speed. These two races each require different running methods to win.
During a sprint, a runner does not center on time or distance. Instead, they simply try to run as fast as they can, using their full energy from the very start of the race.
But things are different in a marathon. If a racer started out running as fast as possible from the beginning, he or she would likely quickly run out of steam. This method, or strategy, would probably not result in success. Instead, marathon runners need to pace themselves. Pacing means considering the task you need to complete and the resources you have available. Possible resources include time, energy and money.
Just like during a marathon, a person involved in a long-term project might consider pacing themselves. This is because long-term projects are more like marathons than sprints.
A well-known saying describes life as marathon, not a sprint. This means people need to learn to be patient and not become worried if their life plans or dreams take some time. Things like finding a good job, creating a nice home or developing friendships all can take time.
There is also a similar expression to consider: Slow and steady wins the race.
Now, let’s hear two friends use these expressions in a conversation.
A: So, are you excited to move and start a new job?
B: I am! I want to learn about the city, make new friends, decorate my new apartment, and ace my new job!
A: That’s a lot to focus on! It takes time to settle into a new place and feel at home. You don’t want to get burned out.
B: That’s a good point. But I really just want to start over and make a great life.
A: Well, that takes time. You know what they say, life is a marathon not a sprint.
B: I know. But I can’t wait! I feel like sprinting!
A: I understand that feeling. I have an idea. I’ll come visit in a couple of months and remind you to pace yourself.
B: Ok, you’ve got a deal!
We can say that Learning English is also like a marathon, not a sprint. If you keep studying day by day, little by little, your English is sure to get better over time.
And that’s all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories!
Until next time … I’m Andrew Smith.
Anna Matteo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
endurance – n. lasting for a long time, hard to tire out
run out of steam – expression. to lose energy or get tired
pace – n. the rate of speed at which something is done in order to finish without getting too tired
patient – adj. the ability to wait for something
steady – adj. something that is strong and keeps working over time
ace – v. to do something very well
burn out – v. to lose interest in doing something; or to lose the ability to do work – such as when a light bulb no longer works