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You run your ass off.

Can ass be the object of run? Why isn't it just "you run"?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You run your ass off

implies that you are running so hard that your buttocks fall off. Obviously that never happens, but it is a figurative way of stating that you are doing something to the point of exhaustion and beyond. It is a familiar trope used with other pursuits as well:

I worked my ass off on that project.

We're going to party our asses off once we graduate.

And so on.

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I read it differently. You run your ass off because you work your butt muscles so hard that they begin to metabolize.

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