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July 26, 2013 • Editorials, Health and Fitness

The Oatmeal Nails Running Culture With Humor and Pathos

The Oatmeal on Distance Running

The Oatmeal on Distance Running

My series ‘The Monday Mile’ has detailed interesting health and fitness tips and my own personal experiences and feelings. I filter things I discover through th elens of my own personal experience with significant weight loss and fitness routines, and trends and truisms that have come and gone through the years.

Over at The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman creates what he calls ‘badly drawn comics’ … but more important is the stories he tells through the comics. Until a few weeks ago my favorite was the story of his house burning down when he was a kid, because it is touching, funny and poignant. In it he sums up what he does:

“I paint portraits of fiction
Sometimes to cope
Sometimes to escape
and Sometimes just because
it makes me happier
to constantly think about a bunch of
crazy made-up shit.”

But then he published one that really hit home – it is about distance running. As with many comics at The Oatmeal, it isn’t just about running – it is about life. And it is funny and nonsensical and poignant all at once.

Like many ‘non high school track’ runners, his running was a way to deal with having been a fat kid – to deal with both physically and emotionally. That is something I can certainly relate to, as someone who graduated college at 375 lbs! He categorizes his former self as ‘the blerch’ – and interestingly also uses the term to describe the de-motivational spirit that tries to get him to not run, to eat poorly, to just quit already.

He talks about running to find peace, to think, to contemplate and to find ‘the void’. My family can certainly speak to the inner bliss I find from a grueling run. What seems like torture to many is joy to the distance runner. And … it keeps us from returning to the Blerch.

Head to The Oatmeal for the entire 6 chapter experience … it is worth it!

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