The Columns

“The Smiling Miler”: Robyn O’Brien ’93 The avid runner talks about her motivation in a profile on the Runner’s World website.

— by on March 29th, 2017

Robyn O’Brien ’93

Eating well goes hand in hand with physical exercise. Robyn O’Brien, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1993, does both, but she’s better known as a leading voice in food-industry reform, the author of “The Unhealthy Truth” (2009), and a frequent commenter on food allergies, politics and financials.

However, she’s an avid runner, too, and on the Runners’s World website, she talks about her motivation.

“When I run, I have my most unbridled thoughts,” she said. “It’s a brainstorming session, as well as a time to process any issues that may be presenting in my work as a food analyst and activist.”

She started running in middle school, and it was her high school track coach who called her “The Smiling Miler” because of the joy she took in racing. Running has been part of the most important moments in her life — she ran on the day she graduated from college, the day she got married, and the day of her first interview with CNN.

Thirty-three years after her first run, she said, “Now I’m a parent, and every single day is filled with curve balls. But your happiness depends on how you handle it all. It’s kind of like the oxygen masks on airplanes. If you don’t take good care of yourself, you’re not in a healthy mental or physical place to take care of your family.”