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Why the creator of The Oatmeal runs from 'the Blerch'

The Blerch is a sort of life-coach spirit animal coaxing comic artist Matthew Inman to lace up and go running.
The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman (
The Blerch is a sort of life-coach coaxing comic artist Matthew Inman to lace up and go running.

Our daily lives can sometimes feel like an overwhelming monster. Some days we beat the monster and we feel on top of the world. Other days, we don't.

Local comic artist and creator of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, conjured up what his monster looks like: a creature called “The Blerch” that's constantly chasing after him. The Blerch is a key character in his book, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances."

“I drew it as this sort of fat cherub monster who floats behind me,” Inman said. “He’s got little wings, and if he catches me, I will become him. And I will become the former fat kid I was when I was younger.”

Inman says he started running because he has a complicated relationship with food.

“Because I eat garbage. My face is a garbage disposal,” he said.

He wanted to lose weight but had a hard time with portion control. Now he runs so that he can eat whatever he wants.

“You can have corn dogs for breakfast and for lunch and for dinner and it doesn’t matter,” he said. “That works for me.”

[asset-images[{"caption": "The thought of this hideous creature keeps Matt Inman running.", "fid": "127866", "style": "offset_left", "uri": "public://201607/blerch_shirt_thumbnail.gif", "attribution": "Credit The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman"}]]There’s this existential concept in running called “the wall.” It’s that point where runners start feeling fatigued and fantasize about quitting. But Inman isn’t a fan of the wall as a metaphor. To him, it feels like a foreboding fixture that cannot be passed.

“I abandoned that and I came up with a better thing, in my opinion, that describes my strife with running.”

And thus, The Blerch was born.

For Inman, running is escapism. It’s getting through a breakup. It’s having patience with difficult family members. It’s being chased by killer hornets in excruciating weather during a marathon in Japan – then guzzling down a purple soda afterwards.

“I run for a lot of reasons,” says Inman. “I run because if my life is falling apart, as long as I squeeze in a run that day, everything is going well.”

Produced for the Web by Brie Ripley.

Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012
Year started with KUOW: 2015