run in place
Work or exert oneself without noticeable change or progress. For example, I've worked on this project for months but feel I'm running in place. This idiom employs in place in the sense of “on one spot,” a usage dating from the late 1200s.
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How to use run in place in a sentence
The world that Black Dynamite lives in is not the most PC place to be in.‘Black Dynamite’ Presents Police Brutality: The Musical|Stereo Williams|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
As this list shows, punishments typically run to a short-ish jail sentence and/or a moderately hefty fine.
Everybody is trapped in an elevator together and tempers run a little hot.‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS|Marlow Stern|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Using standard methods, the cost of printing DNA could run upwards of a billion dollars or more, depending on the strand.
Should lightning strike and Hillary Clinton forgoes a presidential run, Democrats have a nominee in waiting.Sen. Warren’s Main Street Crusade to Pressure Clinton|Eleanor Clift|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
This is the place where the Muscovite criminals are banished to, if they are not put to death.
Do not the widow's tears run down the cheek, and her cry against him that causeth them to fall?The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
He looked strangely out of place in the dusty combat uniform.Sense of Obligation|Henry Maxwell Dempsey (AKA Harry Harrison)
The associations of place recall her strange interview with Mr. Longcluse but a few months before.Checkmate|Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
As Spain, however, has fallen from the high place she once held, her colonial system has also gone down.