February 15 2018
Longtime runner Ellie Kemper charms our socks (and running shoes!) off.
This article is not about me, nor is it about my love of one particular food (though I’m pretty sure that will come through loud and clear). No, this is about the ever-satisfying, wholesome snack that fuels runners like myself all over the world. This is about peanut butter.
I’ve got to hand it to bananas and pasta: both are established staples in the traditional runner’s diet. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather live my whole life without them than go a year without peanut butter.
To me, the stuff tastes as much like nuts as it does victory. It tastes like the joyful exertion of a final kick, like the jittery nerves of a starting line. Simply put, it reminds me of running–and rightfully so, as it has powered me through countless races. Peanut butter is my go-to before long runs and my craving after tough workouts. In this, I’m not alone. As runners, we need a food that is packable and nonperishable, versatile and nutrient-dense. Ten times out of 10, peanut butter delivers.
That’s why millions of us fill our pantries—and stomachs—with this snack. We smear it on sandwiches and stir it into oatmeal (my personal favorite). We lick it off spoons and mix it into baked goods. No matter how you eat it, a minimally-processed jar of peanut butter delivers balanced nutrition and savory taste.
Peanut butter is the unofficial official food of runners, and it’s time we recognize that. I’m not suggesting we hold party-style peanut butter white elephants, nor am I saying we need an increased representation of peanut butter in race goodie bags (although, for the record, I avidly support both ideas). But the running community has struck gold: we’ve found a food that is both healthy and utterly addicting. That alone is worth celebrating.
January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. Today, I fully intend on commemorating and paying homage to this “holiday” by eating even more peanut butter than usual. I will challenge the myth that peanut butter “can’t go with everything.” I’ll reflect on the deep issues at hand (crunchy versus creamy) and I’ll offer condolences to those with peanut allergies.
And then I’ll have a good laugh. Because at the end of the day, peanut butter is just food. It hasn’t been a driving factor in my running career and it hasn’t prevented me from having a bad race. It never will.
Yet a love of peanut butter is much like that of a sunny day. You don’t need bright rays of sunshine to run a few miles. You could very well drag yourself through a torrential downpour for the same 45 minutes, your shoes filling with cold water the whole way. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have nearly as much fun, though. That, my friends, is just like peanut butter. It’s a nonessential little blessing that makes a runner’s journey all the more enjoyable. That is why January 24 is worth celebrating. This is why I love peanut butter.