In Defense of The Runners

Don’t listen to Amelia, she rides horses.


We were standing at Le Pain Quotidien in 2010, rolling our eyes at the moron asking for almond milk in his tea. “Tea drinkers are worse than cat lovers,” I whispered to Amelia and she snarled in acquiescence.

Then there we were again last week on a Tuesday morning. I was waiting for the gentleman behind the counter to ring up my order and while I watched him swipe my credit card, Amelia looked at me and ruefully exclaimed, “I don’t even know you anymore.” I’d ordered a large cup of hot water replete with lemon and I imagine she waited until the twenty-third hour to share her two cents because she thought I was performing a terrible joke.

I laughed her comment off  — why she said what she did is because until two weeks ago my blood type was Coffee Positive. I have been told on a number of occasions that watching my transformation from un-caffeinated to caffeinated is like watching the sun rise. Initially, it’s dark, you’re scared because you’re not sure what to expect and you’re right in feeling that way because if you act too courageously you might get hurt but then ba da bing, ba da boom: the sun comes up (I drink my coffee), the world begins to shine, birds are chirping and humanity’s natural order is restored.

See but I started running — walking, actually — in June after I’d read in one of the plethora of Anti-Cancer books I have assumed as bibles that walking four miles a day can minimize the chance of your cells erratically dividing into the pen that scribes your death sentence.

It began innocently. Early on Friday mornings, I would drive to Southampton to meet my parents at their home. We would put on sneakers and begin a four mile walk that would last approximately one hour which we would repeat on Saturdays and Sundays. Then, while my father went for a health-eradicating pain au chocolat post-walk, I would go to Juice Press to pick up a cold brew that came with a notice which read, “Coffee should never be confused with a healthy drink. It contains theobromine which is essentially a poison the body must filter.” Frankly, it barely even phased me. I was now a champion walker, creating an internal environment that would allow little room to err, theobromine or not.

But when the summer ended, it occurred to me that in order to maintain my life’s only resolution, to not contract cancer, I would have to go to extreme measures. Like a treadmill.

So, one day in September just after New York Fashion Week, I went to the gym. I anticipated walking but the walk got boring so I started running which I soon learned was probably the ingredient that Elizabeth Wurtzel omitted when she wrote about her tribulations in Prozac Nation, and before I could become one of the lamentable Facebook status chanters — Nike shop tab open on browser, Dri-Fit t-shirts in cart — that Amelia staunchly stood against just two weeks ago, I was running four miles a day.

Recently, however, I started to experience palpitations that made my heart feel like it was an aberrant drummer. I was actually pretty sure that I was dying until two weeks ago when my body essentially crawled out of its skin to tell me that I am terrible at decoding its messages. Earth to Leandra! It said. We don’t need the third party — artificial energy — anymore. 

Which is why in spite of Amelia’s protest against the, yes, insufferable 5k runners of Facebook, I want to vet in favor of your running. Not so that you can become a chronic status updater or even really because I think your calves would look better if they were 20% more toned. I am just so thrilled that I have become a human coffee bean, which as far as I’m concerned, is really the only superpower worth achieving. Now, please excuse me while I sip on my lukewarm water plus lemon.

Image via Vogue, 2008

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