run circles around
run circles around (someone)
1. To move much faster than someone else. I'm sure you could run circles around me at this stage; I'm so out of shape!
2. To greatly outclass or outperform someone in some activity. Her presentation on the way molecules bind together was so polished and well researched—she absolutely ran circles around the other students. The reigning champions are running circles around their fatigued opponents as we head into the fourth quarter.
run circles around someoneand run rings around someone
Fig. to outrun or outdo someone. (Alludes to someone who runs fast enough to run in circles around a competitor and still win the race.) John is a much better racer than Mary. He can run circles around her. Mary can run rings around Sally.
run circles/rings around, to
To defeat decisively in a contest; to outdo. The implication here is that a runner moving in circles can still beat another running in a straight line. The term began to appear in print in the 1890s. “He could run rings round us in everything,” wrote G. Parker in the Westminster Gazette (1894).