Hit the Ground Running—Origin & Meaning

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What does hit the ground running even mean? Does it involve literally hitting the ground with your running shoes? Not exactly, unless you’re an overly literal marathon runner who just can’t wait to start. So, let’s put on our linguistic running shoes and sprint into this super popular idiom’s meaning, origin and usage.

Hit the Ground Running Meaning Explained

Hit the Ground Running Origin Meaning

When you hit the ground running, you’ve started a new project or job energetically and productively right from the beginning because you’re prepared and ready to go. It’s like being a racehorse bursting out of the gate or a kid on the first day of summer break. You’re ready, excited, and moving at full speed from the get-go.

Origin and Etymology of Hit the Ground Running

Everyone says the phrase hit the ground running comes from the US military. It was originally used to describe the action of deploying troops from a moving vehicle or aircraft, who would literally need to hit the ground running to avoid injury or capture.

But there were earlier uses of the phrase in the literal form before it became the idiom we all know today. A story was published in many newspapers, like The Evening News, in 1895. The piece was called King of All the Liars, and the excerpt reads, “I turned to run and figured to a dot when he shot. As he cracked loose I jumped way up in the air and did a split, just like what these show gals do, only mine wasn’t on the ground by six feet. The bullet went under me. I knew he had five more cartridges, so I hit the ground running and squatted low down when his gun barked a second time.”

It didn’t take long for the phrase to be adopted into everyday conversation to mean starting a task or job quickly and with brisk enthusiasm.

What Is Another Way of Saying Hit the Ground Running?

Need a few other ways to express the idea of hitting the ground running? Here are some alternatives that should be just the same in any context.

  1. Start off on the right foot
  2. Get off to a flying start
  3. Come out of the gate strong
  4. Start with a bang
  5. Get a head start

Hit the Ground Running Examples in a Sentence

Hit the Ground Running Origin Meaning 1
  • Mary was eager to hit the ground running on her first day at the new job she landed at the bakery.
  • Our whole team hit the ground running at the start of the project, working late into the night for several weeks.
  • Despite jet lag, Dave hit the ground running and started sightseeing immediately upon landing in Greece.
  • The new tech CEO hit the ground running, introducing new policies and workplace rules within her first week.
  • The contestants hit the ground running in the cooking competition, prepping ingredients as soon as the clock started as not to waste a single moment.

Step Carefully

That pretty much sums up all I know about the phrase hit the ground running! You can use it when you or someone else is well-prepared and eager to start something. Try it out and see how you can work it into conversations and writing!