A few weeks ago, Matthew Inman, artist behind the Oatmeal published an amazing five-part comic strip titled ‘The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances’. He goes on to describe the Blerch as this creature that is constantly following him, slowing him down, messing with his mind and making him fat and lazy. The comic strip hit a nerve in many runners as sometimes we do feel like we are running to escape from the Blerch. I’ve had a relatively late start to running, but it’s really interesting to me how varied the answers have been to the question ‘Why do I run?’.
Escape From the Blerch, Of Course
Here’s one small section of the comic strip. Make sure you click through and read the comic strip. It’s a gem and it’s likely that this strip will make you go for a run, even if you haven’t run before. He even has I-believe-in-the-blerch tshirts which are awesome!
When I started running in December of 2011, it was because 7 years in my startup physically put me in a pretty bad state. I was overweight, in terrible shape with high cholesterol and absolutely no awareness of what I was eating. Meals were essentially crappy breaks before hopping back on the computer. Initially, running was an experiment, to see if I can do it. At some point later, it was disbelief that I could actually run and be reasonably good at it. After I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon, six months after I started, running races were an excuse to get out on different trails and meet people outside of the technology/startup space. As I got into trail running, it then became as a way to see the Bay Area, to explore 10 to 15 miles of wonderful wilderness with just a bottle of water and a couple of Clif Shots. About a year into it, I noticed that I was 20 pounds lighter. Hey, maybe I was running to lose weight and keep it off. And then a friend put the ultra-bug in my head. Why run now became a personal challenge. To see if I could run 31 miles in my Luna Sandals. And so far I’m keeping with my at-least-one-race-per-month goal for 2013. Lately, if I’m stressed out about something, I’ve noticed that running seems to fix it. Feeling happy about something I accomplished? Running is then a treat to celebrate that. But as Matthew poignantly observes, the Blerch is always there wanting you to sit in your lazy boy with a super-sized soda, double fisting on burgers, nachos and chips.
While I keep wondering why I run with no clear answers, all I can tell you this. All the doubts, problems, fears, stress, questions, nightmares – everything disappears during a run. Somehow, running is the perfect way to escape from the blerch.
Why do you run?
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