On the NPR the other day, some guy was talking about a thorny policy issue (health care, as I recall) and used the phrase “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. Guys like this guy use that expression to make sure we know that something’s not easy to accomplish and will take time – sometimes they even pause where the comma is between “marathon” and “not”, just so we fully understand. I don’t like this expression, and here’s why. Having run a few marathons, I can report to you that: lots of people who start marathons drop out before the finish, hardly anybody finishes faster than the time they expected following the long months of training, and sometimes the event t-shirts have way too many sponsor logos on them. So, next time tell me that whatever you’re working on is a “sprint, not a marathon”, and I’ll be more positive about the outcome.