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The terrible and wonderful reasons I run long distance
July 15, 2013 1:39 PM   Subscribe

The terrible and wonderful reasons I run long distance
posted by garlic (102 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
He had me up until vanity. For some people, headbutting the crotch is their kraken.
posted by boo_radley at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This both made me uncomfortable in the same way that I find the fat-phobia in The Oatmeal typically makes me uncomfortable and was incredibly illuminating in that I realized how much of that attitude is likely rooted in self-hatred and loathing.

Poor guy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm running this in January. Because I am a moron.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was much more introspective (and depressing) than what I have come to expect from The Oatmeal.
posted by grouse at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2013


The panels with Godzilla are the first things I have ever found funny in the Oatmeal.
posted by SharkParty at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"My toenails fell off" oh god

I first heard about ultramarathons from the book Haruki Murakami wrote about running one. It sounds... awful. Excruciating.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:52 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, ditto, PhoBWanKenobi. The page where he rips into how all those OTHER people are broken is particularly un-self-aware in a really depressing way.
posted by muddgirl at 1:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


SharkParty: "The panels with Godzilla are the first things I have ever found funny in the Oatmeal."

now think about godzilla typing out an angry message on /r/fffuu saying FUCK THE LAND and complaining about how he could handle normal bees but not these giant things.
posted by boo_radley at 1:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can identify with some parts of it. When I started running last year, it was painful and I hated it and why God why did I ever think I could because I had never bothered before.

And then it became...just ordinary and quiet. I got to the point where I was able to wander freely in my head while my body did all the work. I listened to music I love and thought about the future and thought about, well, everything.

His last bit about all the regret/self-image/self-doubt/self-hatred is what my head is like almost all the damn time when I am not physically exerting myself in other ways. (I do more than run; I hike, I do yoga, I walk a lot.) I like running and activities like this because I get to have quiet and introspection without the usual suspects popping up. My previous method of my 20s was to get shitfaced drunk A LOT in order to silence all those awful things. I'm not saying physical exertion is everyone's answer, but it turned out to be part of mine.
posted by Kitteh at 1:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I've never gotten the 'running makes you forget all of your problems!' thing. When I am running that stuff just plagues my mind because I'm not thinking about anything, the crappy demons have control of the place. It's not freeing at all. By contrast, brisk walks are delightful. I don't know why going fast is such a problem for my brain but at least I get to keep my toenails.
posted by troika at 1:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is pretty much exactly why I run so I feel this completely.

I've dropped about 100 pounds since I started working out seriously, still got a ways to go, but I feel this ugly, visceral loathing when I see old pictures of myself and I very much am running away from that person.

That and the exhaustion. Half the reason I don't climb a clock tower with a rifle is I'm too tired after abusing myself around the track.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Without the 'vanity' panel I'd really like this, but I found that part to be pretty douchy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


if beer and balloons is wrong, i don't wanna be right
posted by nathancaswell at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is great.

Troika -- I'm an ultramarathoner, but I totally agree: walks are the best thing people can do. for all that kinds of reasons.
posted by ph00dz at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2013


The toenails thing is just a Thing That Happens if you keep your feet in shoes long enough. I walked ~30 miles in pretty good hiking boots on concrete one day, and I didn't even feel like it was that much exertion, but about a week later both my little toenails turned black and fell off. There wasn't really any pain at any point. So it's not as horrible as it sounds.

What's MORE horrible than it sounds is looking down at a toe with no toenail. SO WRONG.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found this really interesting. Mostly because all of the things he's trying to get away from are the things that make me the happiest and most at peace.

It's really just been the last few months, but I've had moments where I realize, oh man, I am lying down on an awesome couch, the first real piece of new furniture I've ever owned, watching TV on the first TV I've ever owned, in my own apartment so I'm not even wearing pants, petting my wonderful sweet little puppy with one hand, and shoveling ice cream into my mouth with the other. Life is good.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by phunniemee at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


My toenails fell off, I lost seven pounds in a day.

Jesus, that can't be right. What the hell's going on with his toenails?
posted by Naberius at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


are you using a spoon for the ice cream shoveling or have you gone Full American?
posted by boo_radley at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone else has articulated the bad things about this better than I could so I will just say: I am glad that he found running instead of finding heroin.
posted by elizardbits at 2:08 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also the toenail issue is totally normal and commonplace with activities like marathoning or ballet or whatnot where feet get beat up.
posted by elizardbits at 2:09 PM on July 15, 2013


Without the 'vanity' panel I'd really like this, but I found that part to be pretty douchy.

That part was indeed douchey (especially since he starts it by basically saying he did start running to look good), but everything that preceded it was just ... Eating to the point of vomiting is bulimia, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2013


This both made me uncomfortable in the same way that I find the fat-phobia in The Oatmeal typically makes me uncomfortable and was incredibly illuminating in that I realized how much of that attitude is likely rooted in self-hatred and loathing.

Poor guy.

posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:48 PM on July 15

Yeah. It's both telling and awful that he always seems to draw himself as large, like in this comic, when in reality he's really skinny. That's not great, and after reading this I wonder how much of it is actually for comedic effect.
posted by ZaphodB at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


Also the toenail issue is totally normal

That was the most uncomfortable use of the word 'normal' I've ever read.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never lost toenails running but have lost them once playing Ultimate and once skiing.
posted by octothorpe at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2013


They grow back.
posted by octothorpe at 2:12 PM on July 15, 2013


The toenailless interim is fucking creepy with your weird naked sausage toes, though.
posted by elizardbits at 2:12 PM on July 15, 2013


The toenails thing doesn't squick me out NEARLY as much as the giant Japanese killer hornets. I'm totally on Godzilla's side there: Nope. Nope. Nope.
posted by dnash at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My exhibitionist self-abuse is better than your exhibitionist self-abuse.
posted by resurrexit at 2:15 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm very skinny now- as a result of endurance sports. But I still think of myself as fat. I was fat for a long time, and it's a difficult thing to get out of your head. I don't know if it's body dysmorphic disorder or what, but that part of this piece rings really true for me.


I really miss running. I cycle now, because my knees won't handle the running so much anymore. I love cycling, but it is a completely different headspace from running.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah. It's both telling and awful that he always seems to draw himself as large, like in this comic, when in reality he's really skinny. That's not great, and after reading this I wonder how much of it is actually for comedic effect.

Oh wow. I mean, I actually thought he was probably kind of a little bit hefty. That's almost alarming.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh hey the kind of thinking that nearly put me in the hospital once, awesome, always nice to be reminded of that.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The 'Vanity' panel is driven by fear: fear of what exercising at a gym is like and fear of the kind of people who exercise at the gym. His fear is driven by lack of knowledge and prevents him from gaining that knowledge--a self-sustaining cycle.

I hope that he conquers his fear-if he applied the dedication that he applies to running to appropriate gym exercise, he'd experience more of what he enjoys about running in more powerful, concentrated doses than running provides.
posted by Kwine at 2:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never lost toenails running but have lost them once playing Ultimate and once skiing.

I misread that as Ultima and thought you were pretty fucking hardcore for a minute.
posted by The Bellman at 2:23 PM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Kwine: "The 'Vanity' panel is driven by fear: fear of what exercising at a gym is like and fear of the kind of people who exercise at the gym. His fear is driven by lack of knowledge and prevents him from gaining that knowledge--a self-sustaining cycle.

I hope that he conquers his fear-if he applied the dedication that he applies to running to appropriate gym exercise, he'd experience more of what he enjoys about running in more powerful, concentrated doses than running provides.
"

I think this is just as bad as what he does in this strip (parts of which I find amusing, but the self-hatred is pretty cringe-inducing). I enjoy lifting, and the gym. But running gives me a completely different feeling, especially trail running. There is a freedom and sense of connection to the world around me that no gym can provide me.

Maybe it does the same for you, but I don't see the need to put him down for preferring endurance running. While I agree he expresses a lot of fear, it's also okay to like some kinds of sports and exercise more than others.

(And the kind of beating your feet take in downhills on trails can also cause your toenails to fall off, even at much shorter distances than marathons. Don't ask me how I know.)
posted by Superplin at 2:26 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


He wrote a blog post about his first ultra marathon (complete with disgusting toe photos!).
posted by jillithd at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2013


Wow.
I was once a very serious distance runner, and I still put in about 10 miles a day.
I also am someone can't *stand* The Oatmeal because the past behavior of its creator, but after reading this I feel really sad for him. He sounds like he lives in a fairly dark world. Running doesn't sound like a source of nearly as much joy for him as it could be. Needs less self-punishment and more celebration, dude.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:35 PM on July 15, 2013


I liked this except for the unfortunate derail about vanity.
It's really just been the last few months, but I've had moments where I realize, oh man, I am lying down on an awesome couch, the first real piece of new furniture I've ever owned, watching TV on the first TV I've ever owned, in my own apartment so I'm not even wearing pants, petting my wonderful sweet little puppy with one hand, and shoveling ice cream into my mouth with the other. Life is good.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
I got my first desk job when I was 24 or 25, and promptly gained 40 or 50 pounds in a year or two. My weight leveled off there and I let myself coast for most of my 20s and 30s, promising myself to get into shape one of these days. But I never really did anything about it, because I fricking love to be sedentary and eat comfort food. What got me off my ass was my 20th high school reunion last summer, and the looming specter of my 40th birthday. There were other classmates who have let themselves go a hell of a lot worse than I have, but a voice in my head said "Getting and staying in shape? It's probably now or never, pal."

So I've been trying to get all the way through couch to 5K for about a year now (I keep starting and getting derailed halfway through), and have been eating mostly better food and less of it, and have dropped about 20 pounds. Running is more enjoyable to me than going to a gym or sitting on a stationary bike, but in my head it's still more of a means to an end than ingrained routine or even actively enjoyed; I totally relate to "The Feeding" and "The Selfishness" panels of this cartoon.

Ok, gotta go run now.

(Also: Japanese giant hornets? Nope. No. No, NO, HELL NO. No.)
posted by usonian at 2:42 PM on July 15, 2013


I don't know if this is a good subject for armchair psychology. For instance, is it possible that his avatar is round because it's more funny and in line with the visual style of his cartoon?

Or maybe I'm being defensive because this resonated with me (except I run to drink, not to eat). I shouldn't even be running, as anyone who's ever seen me could attest, and yet it does things for me that lifting never did.
posted by ftm at 2:44 PM on July 15, 2013


Yeah, I'm also part of the crowd that doesn't really enjoy The Oatmeal all that much. This though, this is scarily accurate. Every part of -- the eating, the crunches, even the pretty bad body image aspects -- resonates with why I run.
posted by jacobian at 2:50 PM on July 15, 2013


I also am someone can't *stand* The Oatmeal because the past behavior of its creator,

Context for the rest of us, bitte?
posted by Ryvar at 2:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


My feeling is: Why run to eat? Why not run and eat? It's not like if Inman doesn't run, he's not going to eat - so why pretend that is Virtuous Behavior is an excuse for a Bad Behavior? Why not work to enjoy both completely value-neutral behaviors in the moments that he's doing them? (And yes, I know it takes work to do this)

In the last panel he talks about negative self-talk - how running helps him let go of feelings of imposter syndrome, of worthlessness, etc. But "I'm fat and lazy unless I run" is also negative self-talk.

his avatar is round because it's more funny

What makes it more funny than a more representative avatar?
posted by muddgirl at 2:52 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


My (limited) experience with weight training is getting to a point where you can do something you couldn't do before. Reaching a goal was the exuberance. But with running, even on short runs, I find a certain peace and contentment at reaching the perfect stride, where I just float along on my happy cloud legs. At those moments, I feel like I could go on forever. And then it passes, and I get worn out, and I slow to a walk, only to jog again, trying to get that perfect cadence back.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:52 PM on July 15, 2013


I don't know, ftm. Personally it's because I run a lot, and love to run. It's very important to me. But it made me sad to think about what it would be like to run because of all of kinds of negative voices telling you you're a loser who will slip into the dark side if you don't run. Seems like an awful way to experience something that I think of as bringing great joy to lots of people's life. ymmv.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:53 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


For anyone who cares, here's a pretty good summary of The Oatmeal Controversies Through The Ages. Thankfully I think we stopped posting about every single controversy on Mefi after the FunnyJunk one in 2012.
posted by muddgirl at 2:56 PM on July 15, 2013


What makes it more funny than a more representative avatar?

I know, right? Who ever heard of exaggerated proportions in comic strips?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Without the 'vanity' panel I'd really like this, but I found that part to be pretty douchy.

YEAH man, totally douchy to want to look good.
posted by xmutex at 2:58 PM on July 15, 2013


YEAH man, totally douchy to want to look good.

Somebody needs a run - AND a hug!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was the most uncomfortable use of the word 'normal' I've ever read.

One of the weirdest things about athletic pursuits of all kinds is how many people on teams love sharing their TOTALLY AWESOME pus sores or bruises the size of Kansas or whatever. When I played rugby there was a regular competition for most awesome bruise the day after a match and it took kind of a long time to adjust to the real world, where normal people are unnerved by jammed fingers or blood pouring out of some accidental hole in your leg. Runners are some of the worst for casually sharing their blackened, wizened toes, though.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then it became...just ordinary and quiet. I got to the point where I was able to wander freely in my head while my body did all the work. I listened to music I love and thought about the future and thought about, well, everything.

Yeah, this is why I love long roadtrips, and always do all the driving, 10-12 hours a day if necessary. It is one of the only times I ever truly relax and enjoy the peacefulness of just existing. I've started bicycling now, in the hope that I'll eventually achieve the same mental state while simultaneously getting into better shape and having the ability to get around alone effectively in Los Angeles without a car (and keeping all my toenails.)
posted by davejay at 3:03 PM on July 15, 2013


Who ever heard of exaggerated proportions in comic strips?

It's not an issue of exaggerated proportions - for Inman an exaggerated proportion would be something like Panel 4 of this page. But he usually draws himself like Panel 2 of that page, for example.

Personally, I don't think that fat people are a priori funnier than thin people. I think that Inman does portray himself as fatter than he really is. The suggestion was made that he has body image issues (supported by the first 3 pages of that comic). Another suggestion was made that he thinks that fat bodies are funny. That's a problem for me. I'm fat, and i don't find my body to be humorous. Or maybe he's trying to play to a demographic, I don't know.
posted by muddgirl at 3:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. It's both telling and awful that he always seems to draw himself as large, like in this comic, when in reality he's really skinny. That's not great, and after reading this I wonder how much of it is actually for comedic effect.

Three years after losing 30ish pounds I still do not recognize myself in (current) pictures. My mental image of myself is stuck in 2007 or so. If I were drawing myself in a comic, odds are the drawing would be of my mental image, not the physical one.

He says he grew up as "the fat kid," and it seems that a large part of him still identifies very strongly with that.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Runners are some of the worst for casually sharing their blackened, wizened toes, though.

The poop stories are worse. And the nipple stories. My wife once made the mistake of asking why I was wandering into the bathroom with my running clothes and a big roll of tape, then insisted she really DID want to know when I said she didn't. Now she doesn't push when I say she doesn't want to know.

And yeah, if you haven't lost a ton of weight, you don't get how weird it can be. I see pictures of me now and am like "Whoa, who's that dude?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:08 PM on July 15, 2013


this comic made me laugh and laugh and laugh. the monster legs and super weak arms? check. finding strength and measuring yourself everyday? check. and i just love candy and nutella, check check check.

i guess i can understand some people's concerns about this guy's self hatred, but alongside that is a sort of problem solving. it's good to be able to laugh at yourself when it comes to this. it hurts, yes, sometimes you feel like a maoschist but... when you finally feel those endorphins and just start flying - it's totally worth it. you're running towards feeling better about yourself. for some people they can do this without getting off the couch. for me, it's the day i run that 8 minute/mile 5k.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 3:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the weirdest things about athletic pursuits of all kinds is how many people on teams love sharing their TOTALLY AWESOME pus sores or bruises the size of Kansas or whatever.

Paintball is the best athletic pursuit for this, because you can also point to the person who gave you the bruise and shout "you bastard" with a smile on both of your faces.

And don't forget that body image issues can exist with anyone, regardless of body type. I'm skinny, always been skinny, and when (for instance) someone I know says "hey, your body looks like Benedict Cumberbatch" all I can think is "what? he's really big and attractive compared to me." A few years ago I saw a picture of myself from the back without knowing it was me, and spent several moments thinking "who is that tall broad-shouldered fit man" before realizing who it was. Which was a shock, because in my head I'm still a 17-year-old boy who weights 35-40 pounds less than I do now, and I don't think I'll ever shake that image.
posted by davejay at 3:16 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a lot healthier overall now that I can no longer run on most city surfaces; this is a combination of less-destroyed joints and the fact that I no longer measure the success of my workout by where I vomited along with west side highway.
posted by elizardbits at 3:18 PM on July 15, 2013


(usually within a block or two of the chinese consulate, which i am sure has me on some kind of government watch list somewhere)
posted by elizardbits at 3:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's ok to like The Oatmeal as long as you never tell anyone.

A picture of a sparrow hornet
posted by mecran01 at 3:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. That was the first time I've ever clicked a link to the Oatmeal and found something that felt like it actually had some honesty to it instead of being "whatever will get me linkjuice".
posted by egypturnash at 3:41 PM on July 15, 2013


Distance running was my way of coping with anxiety and depression. That kind of focused daily routine did wonders for me, but I found it very, very easy to overdo it. The comic made me a little concerned. I hope he's training properly. I don't think I did, and I ended up with chronically painful joints in my twenties. Even going on an elliptical machine makes my knees scream with pain. I think that's likely the result of my not knowing what the hell I was doing and pushing myself too far too fast, and not anything specific to distance running itself.
posted by quiet earth at 3:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I identified with a lot of that. I don't think it's *good* that I did, but I did.
posted by gaspode at 3:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was an interesting read for me, but the, "If you exercise in any way beyond what I do, you are a wrong, shallow, horrible sheep and I am better than you" deal really shows that, no matter how far this guy runs, he won't get away from what a douche he is.
posted by xingcat at 4:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


OMG this guy is hilarious. Thank you!!!!!
posted by freakazoid at 4:16 PM on July 15, 2013


He makes awesome web analytics tools. Awesome, something to be very proud of. But the comic? Um....
posted by KokuRyu at 4:18 PM on July 15, 2013


He does acknowledge right in the title that some of his reasons for running are terrible.
posted by Superplin at 4:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


A picture of a sparrow hornet

Not clicking that link. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nuh-uh, no way.
posted by dnash at 4:22 PM on July 15, 2013


When I played rugby there was a regular competition for most awesome bruise the day after a match and it took kind of a long time to adjust to the real world, where normal people are unnerved by jammed fingers or blood pouring out of some accidental hole in your leg.


HA! I can totally relate to this, too! I crashed pretty hard on my ride to work a few months ago, and wondered why people were weirded-out when they encountered me dressing my road rash in the office bathroom.



What? I'm just making sure I get all the grit out.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:23 PM on July 15, 2013


It's both telling and awful that he always seems to draw himself as large, like in this comic, when in reality he's really skinny.

That's nothing, look at how he draws both Louis C.K. and Neil Degrasse Tyson.

I think he believes that Neil is some sort of outer-space potato man.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]



I think he believes that Neil is some sort of outer-space potato man

Yes, he certainly looks like a sontaran in that drawing.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:38 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like he's got a Madonna/Whore complex about his own body.

There are certainly worse ways to deal with life, but this isn't doing anything to make me go "shit yeah, gotta do some running," even when he talks about his peak experience in Japan.
posted by emjaybee at 4:39 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, so my take on this particular comic is that Allie Brosh has shown him that it's possible to work in that painful-but-funny-but-painful intense public self-examination mode, and he's trying it on for himself. I don't think he's quite as good a person as Allie Brosh is, and that weakens the work. I mean, I don't think Brosh has ever put up anything as mean as that page about how subhuman he thinks people in gyms are; even when she's, like, making fun of bad grammar on the Internet, she seems to be coming from a place of respect for others. But, hey, it's a good mode to work in — much better than the frothy snarky sloppy style of most Oatmeal comics — and I hope he sticks with it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:03 PM on July 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't run (anymore). I bike. Not long distances according to the biking crowd, but 60+ miles. And I get exactly what he's saying about finding peace out on the road. It's one of the few places where I can shut my mind down, or at least not focus on work, etc. I admit I spend a fair amount of time arguing with myself about whether I can climb a hill or finish a ride or whether I should be paranoid about feeling good at the moment or whether I should even drink or eat. But I also see a lot of beauty out there: cows, horses, wild turkeys, blue birds, gorgeous rolling hills, sunken, shadowed roads. And there are times when that's all there is and it is wonderful.
posted by grimjeer at 5:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't run; I lift heavy objects instead.

I liked the strip. Despite the radically different modes of exercise I can definitely draw some parallels in experience between me and this guy.

The "Vanity" panel didn't bother me in the least, despite the fact that I drink protein shakes and have done the odd set of crunches in the past (and for what it's worth, he's right: there are far better ways to train your abdominal region). It didn't bother me because, you know, it's a damn comic strip, and I don't really care if the creator thinks his exercise is better than my exercise. He wouldn't be the first or the last to think that.
posted by Broseph at 5:30 PM on July 15, 2013


He's right about crunches. I still remember taking note of a guy who had "wannabe vain gym rat" written all over him doing about a hundred hard and fast crunches at the end of what had been (from my admittedly leisurely perch on the elliptical) an otherwise quite light and lackadaisacal strength workout ... and then seeing him half an hour later with a buddy at Chipotle in front of a non-"bowl" burrito, chips, and a beer. Unless the dude got regular liposuction that whole thing was for naught.
posted by MattD at 5:38 PM on July 15, 2013


TheWhiteSkull: " When I played rugby there was a regular competition for most awesome bruise the day after a match and it took kind of a long time to adjust to the real world, where normal people are unnerved by jammed fingers or blood pouring out of some accidental hole in your leg.


HA! I can totally relate to this, too! I crashed pretty hard on my ride to work a few months ago, and wondered why people were weirded-out when they encountered me dressing my road rash in the office bathroom.



What? I'm just making sure I get all the grit out.
"

You people. My husband has, as his banner pic on FB, the x-ray of his collar bone and shoulder put back together with eight screws and a metal plate after a spectacular track racing crash. I think he's actually *proud* of it. What is WRONG with all of you?
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 6:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You people. My husband has, as his banner pic on FB, the x-ray of his collar bone and shoulder put back together with eight screws and a metal plate after a spectacular track racing crash. I think he's actually *proud* of it. What is WRONG with all of you?

haha not going to lie that sounds pretty badass! I almost feel ashamed that I just have a couple of face shots, pre-stitches. FAILURE.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2013


jetlagaddict: "haha not going to lie that sounds pretty badass! I almost feel ashamed that I just have a couple of face shots, pre-stitches. FAILURE."

Oh, I have several shots of him from the ER after that crash - EPIC road rash (on top of the broken shoulder joint, collar bone, shoulder blade, and three fractured ribs at the back). He has only the good graces of his RN mother-in-law and eternally patient wife to thank for the fact that he's not permanently scarred from shoulder to knee. At this point I keep triple antibiotic ointment and Tegaderm (in several sizes) on hand at all times.

Dummies. All of you.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 6:51 PM on July 15, 2013


His depiction of the "Blergh" man is pretty spot-on, for me, anyways.

People talk about how, when they exercise, they can be "alone with their thoughts." But, man, it does often feel like being alone in a room with the lazier, evil, slothy verison of yourself. And worse, the more tired you get, the smarter and more convincing he becomes.

"If it'll feed so good when you stop... so why not stop now?"
"Is that twinge a headache? I think that was a headache. You can stop now. You can't help it if you have a headache. No-one will blame you for stopping."
"Man, if you run harder now, think how much less you'll have in the tank later?"
"Youcan'tdothisYoucan'tdothisYoucan'tdothisYoucan'tdothisYoucan'tdothis"

Hmm.. Maybe I'm doing it wrong...
posted by cacofonie at 7:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have run 1600 miles so far this year and all my toenails are intact and in place. I feel like such a failure.
posted by leadfeet at 7:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love cycling, but it is a completely different headspace from running.

I dunno, 400K into a 600K brevet some of this becomes rather apt.
posted by normy at 7:38 PM on July 15, 2013


> > Without the 'vanity' panel I'd really like this, but I found that part to be pretty douchy.

> YEAH man, totally douchy to want to look good.


I think you maybe didn't read that panel because it basically says non-sarcastically what you're saying sarcastically? Or maybe I am bad at reading tone on the Internet?
posted by en forme de poire at 7:51 PM on July 15, 2013


Relevant:
Also, when I was starting to run, I used to pretend that there was a fat man chasing me. And if he caught me, I would be transformed into him.
Yikes.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:02 PM on July 15, 2013


"I run very fast because I desperately want to stand very still." I love this. I get this. The purple-drink episode is great.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was pretty awesome, especially the last two panels. I liked the little "mini FAQ" on running that he included at the bottom of the last panel (races he has done and not done; favorite running books; favorite running routes). The comments up thread were interesting to me in the way they were polarized into "he is a sad, sad man" and "he totally nails it". Judging from the little running bibliography he includes, Inman has clearly given some thought as to why he runs. Here is one of the passages from his mini-FAQ, if you didn't scroll that far down to read it:

But running isn't for everyone, I get that.

If you can't run, go ride a bike. If you can't ride a bike, go swimming. If you can't swim, take up competitive floor hockey. If you can't do any of these things, find some activity that you can use to find a little piece of mind. Build robots in your backyard. Become awesome at baking. Try to read 100 novels a year.
Any or all of these activities are a stellar substitute for distance running.

posted by kovacs at 8:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. It's both telling and awful that he always seems to draw himself as large, like in this comic, when in reality he's really skinny. That's not great, and after reading this I wonder how much of it is actually for comedic effect.--ZaphodB

I had a skinny friend who often talked about the problems of being overweight and I finally asked him why he always talks about this. "I was overweight for a large part of my life. You never really get over it--it becomes part of your self image." I found it hard to believe and I told him that there is no way he could see himself as overweight, but he said that he does and probably always will.

So, I'm guessing he's drawing himself as he sees himself. It certainly matches the narrative of the story.
posted by eye of newt at 8:45 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dissing crunches isn't exactly saying "all other forms of exercise are bad;" running and crunching aren't comparable really but I think the latter is a pretty useless waste of time. Binge running seems counterproductive but there's a ton of training breaking things up. Eating and running to excess would seem to be a bad combination for longevity, what with the strain on everything and tons of firey metabolic activity bombarding one with shitloads of free radicals. So what, in the long run, IMO. I think he was more judgmental about himself and there's some projecting going on in the offense being taken, but meh. He seems like a smart conflicted dude.
posted by lordaych at 9:08 PM on July 15, 2013


Also I think there are some parallels to draw between "binge running" and training and being a self employed creative type. Yes he is. Heh. He has a good bit on working from home that I'm too lazy to find ATM but I think if you look at that and this you see how they fit together.
posted by lordaych at 9:11 PM on July 15, 2013


I have run 1600 miles so far this year and all my toenails are intact and in place. I feel like such a failure.
posted by leadfeet

Eponyinappropriate?
posted by ZaphodB at 9:14 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since when is running away (metaphorical, or physical) from a problem a good thing? Take on the problem head on.

Run because you like to run, not because there's these imaginary demons chasing you, or because it's an escape from an otherwise empty and shitty life, filled with various neurotics.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:20 PM on July 15, 2013


Leadfeet -- Hopefully, we'll cross paths at Leadville 100. I'm pacing, which, as far as I can tell, is the best way to experience the race without having to do it. I'm sure, like me, you're seeing this set of webcomics shared over and over on FB today.

Oh, and since we're keeping track: I currently have nine of ten toenails, which for me, is pretty good. Is it good or bad that I'm not even sure when I lost it?
posted by ph00dz at 9:26 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


At one point or another, one by one or two by two, I have lost every toe nail. They grow back.
Thing is - once they grow back, they are not as resilient as the original toe nails.
So they fall off again. I did a long three-day hike this weekend in the North Cascades, and I am certain that I will lose two toenails within the next few weeks, if not two more.
Such is life - I'm not too fussed. Losing a toenail is better than feeling that pressure/pain all the while the nail is deciding whether to fall off or not.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:27 PM on July 15, 2013


"I was overweight for a large part of my life. You never really get over it--it becomes part of your self image." I found it hard to believe and I told him that there is no way he could see himself as overweight,

Depends on your framing, I guess. I treat the chronic health issue of my eating disorder as an ongoing medical condition requiring daily assessment and actionable feedback. Every day for the rest of my life, I have to watch my weight, because if I don't, I'll weigh 370 pounds again.

I'm cool with this situation. It's like being diabetic. You need to take care of yourself every day. Of course, my assessment and feedback doesn't require sticking yourself for glucose testing... I just get on the scale and feed the raw data into the web-app. Bingo-Bango. 60 seconds a day.
posted by mikelieman at 1:14 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I played rugby there was a regular competition for most awesome bruise the day after a match and it took kind of a long time to adjust to the real world, where normal people are unnerved by jammed fingers or blood pouring out of some accidental hole in your leg.

This is how roller derby works.
posted by Lucinda at 1:27 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The two very mundane reasons I don't:

1. I have flat feet, so it hurts and buggers my feet, ankles and knees right up.
2. It bores the arse off me.
posted by Decani at 3:06 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:23 AM on July 16, 2013


> I love cycling, but it is a completely different headspace from running

Yeah, I mean running's slower and involves fewer bicycles. Why would anyone want to do that?
posted by scruss at 4:53 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm with him on gyms. If I wanted to do unpleasant things in a stinky building full of other people I'd go to work.

Also, is Matt Inman the spitting image of Dennis from Always Sunny or what?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:40 AM on July 16, 2013


It's a bit puritanical and guilt-ridden and Protestant work ethic-y isn't it? To go through all that just to get to point where he can say he runs because he enjoys it...

Declaration of interest: I'd love to get to the point where I can run for longer than 3minutes+90secwalking+5minutes+2.5minuteswalking X 2, which I'm hoping will be in about 5 weeks time. The way I push myself through the huffing and the puffing is to imagine I'm slowly but tirelessly jogging over the plain after a wounded antelope, at last assuming the proper inheritance of my physical body (upright posture, bi-pedal, flexible waist, hairlessness and ability to sweat.)

And after we catch the antelope (for we are kindred) our people will feast.

Or I'm doing the same thing in pursuit of some lost hobbits. We won't feast on the hobbits of course, we're saving them.

Or doing the same after a treacherous Celt and his Roman sidekick ("You haven't seen them running!" Jamie Bell) - this is the most pleasant daydream, partly because of realising yes, the runners would definitely catch up with people on horseback as long as the run was long enough and the horses couldn't be changed; and partly because who wouldn't look amazing running over the fells in sealskins and skulls?

We might just eat the Roman and Celt. THEY TASTE OF CHICKEN!

These daydreams are short at the moment but I'm hoping they will get longer.
posted by glasseyes at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find it odd how Inman positions distance running as diametrically opposed to going to a gym/lifting weights! I train with a lot of serious [ultra]runners and I've never encountered this 'Running is real fitness instead of that phony gym stuff' attitude before. It's totally possible to do both.

In fact, the running books/my physical therapist/my coaches all recommend that runners do some strength training including core work. Being able to hold yourself upright for hours and hours is really important for your form!
posted by TheGuyWhoSucks at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now that I've read the comments can I just say:

That Japanese hornet looks like a beautiful, if evil, mechanical toy.

Pardon my smugness but I AM the lazier, evil, slothy verison of myself. I like it that way.

The panel illustrates very well why we shouldn't bring up children to find self-worth in super-competitive achievement.

I had no idea until C25K that exercise euphoria was an actual thing.
posted by glasseyes at 8:53 AM on July 16, 2013


RobotVoodooPower: " If I wanted to do unpleasant things in a stinky building full of other people I'd go to work."

OATS AND TPS REPORTS! HNNNGH! (bench presses multifunction printer)
posted by boo_radley at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Oatmeal contact page:

Do not email me and say that I look like Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Heh.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand the judgemental aspects of Inman's The Oatmeal alter ego. I have a version of same but it also gets directed at my tendency to be judgemental! I am liable to vacillate between despising the social aspects of being around people in front of mirrors checking themselves and others out at the gym and criticizing myself for being so aloof, judgemental, self-righteous, and anti-social.

I'm better off running, biking, and swimming.

The thing Inman's comic really gets right is the ecstasy that comes with intense running. I've been blessed with being able to be physically fit all my life, and I love physical activity of all kinds, but running is the meta-sport.

Running, to my mind, is the pure realization of sustained action for us bipedal animals. When children gain adequate motor control (and even before), one of the first things they incessantly do is run. They run here, there, and in circles if allowed!

I also have strong opinions about the value of exercise for all people. An enlightened society would afford its citizens adequate time and health care for everyone to exercise for three to five hours during the work week.

An enlightened culture would help people to move their bodies for their own well-being and its continued improvement.

Finally, pain and running. When done right and according to one's strength, running should not hurt. There is the good pain of physical exertion, of burning thighs and heaving lungs. Then there is the pain of aching joints, sharp stabs shooting through muscles, of tearing ligaments and overused tendons. In the haze of endorphins, one might have a hard time distinguishing, but an experienced runner just knows the difference, and injury is also part of the deal, too.

We are blessed with incarnation and it is good to use our too temporary bodies as well as we are able.
posted by mistersquid at 9:06 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


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