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I read the conversation below:

Excuse me, where's the City Library?

It's a Sunday run to go there. You'd better take a taxi.

I didn't understand the meaning of "a Sunday run". I guess it means a long way or a long distance, but I am not sure about it. I have retrieved some usage of "Sunday". There are a lot of phrases with Sunday, such as Sunday painter, Sunday punch, Sunday school truth, low Sunday, etc. They have nothing to do with Sunday.

Does Sunday run mean "a long distance run"?

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    Can you give a little bit more context on where you encountered the phrase? I've never heard this - it certainly isn't common in British or NZ english, but might be a less known US or Canadian idion. – David Hall Jul 26 '13 at 8:20
  • I have never heard about those phrases. I encountered the phrases which I mentioned above on the Internet.There are no more context on those phrases. I wonder whether they are commonly used by the native speaks. – user48070 Jul 26 '13 at 8:29
  • Where on the internet though? A blog can be very different to the New York Times for example. I'm obviously not every native speaker :) but I have never heard this phrase. – David Hall Jul 26 '13 at 8:31
  • Also - I'm only referring to "Sunday run" here - with some of the other phrases you mention, I would perhaps use the "Sunday driver" idiom (which is very common) to help understand them - so maybe a "Sunday painter" is someone who is a casual painter, slow, overly carefully, perhaps incompetent. – David Hall Jul 26 '13 at 8:34
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    I downvoted this question because you have not provided sufficient context, even after it was requested. If you've seen it "on the internet," then you should be able to give a link. I can't find any instances except for one test question. – J.R. Jul 26 '13 at 21:20
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I must admit that I've never heard of a "sunday run" in American English (southern, north-western, or southwestern dialects). I'll take a stab at explaining how I would interpret it, but it is a novel interpretation and might not be the same as the original speaker/writer intended.

Sunday used to be a rather official "day of rest" (derived from "keeping the sabbath holy" from Judo-Christian tradition), and so to describe something with Sunday implied that it was leisurely and unhurried, slow. Thus the term "Sunday driver", which now means someone who is driving slow and leisurely as though to enjoy the scenery and is not purpose-driven on arriving somewhere quickly.

As a native English speaker, I thus assume anything that uses Sunday as an adjective must imply something leisurely, slow, and perhaps drawn-out or lengthy. The only exception is when Sunday is used to imply something more explicitly religious or formal, like "the Sunday masses" or "Sunday best" (clothes nice enough to wear to church). David Hall (no relation, I think...) pointed out "Sunday painter", which implies an amateur or nonprofessional, and while listed in the dictionary it was the first time I'd heard of that usage.

In this context of a "Sunday run", one can seem to rule out formality (unless you have to run in a suit and tie?), an amataeur run makes little sense, and I don't see how they could mean a religious run, so it seems like this is the only sensible definition left.

I would then logically conclude that the speaker means that the City Library is at least an hour or more away at a leisurely jogging/running pace; the kind of run that would be fine for leisure, as on a Sunday when you have nothing better to do, but if you don't have that much time you'd best take a taxi.

It's a highly unusual use, but I think its not 'wrong' - just perhaps novel.

  • I think you provide a very good answer and I agree with you, thank you. – user48070 Jul 29 '13 at 2:52
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A Sunday run is an informal race, similar to a marathon or 5K race, but typically held on a much more informal basis and with less fixed rules on race length, race timings - especially in towns and villages within the United Kingdom during Summer (and typically held on a Sunday, hence the name).

The term originates from rural England, where a Sunday run might be held in a parish area as part of a charity event, or "just for fun", where the length of the race is usually short enough to encourage people who do not take part in "serious races" and where people of all abilities join in.

This sentence is a metaphorical use of this term. When the author writes it is a Sunday run from here, he is stating that the distance from here is roughly the length of a Sunday run race away from here. This length is ill-defined, but probably in the region of about 2-3 hours walk. Hence the author is stating that the distance of the City Library from here is long enough away that reaching it on foot would be strenuous and ill-advised unless the listener is willing to take the trek, but it is not unachievable within an afternoon if the listener would like to take a long walk.

Note that this is not a common idiom to use Sunday run in this way, and as an English learner you should avoid non-idiomatic metaphors using uncommon nouns such as Sunday run.

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