If you follow the world of competitive running—hell, even if you just tune in to the summer Olympics every four years—it’s easy to get the impression that runners are strictly Puritan types, subsisting on finely-tuned diets between training sessions.
So it’s refreshing, then, that running company Saucony decided to feature a decidedly non-pro runner who basically admits he runs because like a garbage disposal: Matthew Inman, the slightly batty (and enormously talented) mind behind The Oatmeal, an ultra-popular webcomic. (Because if the average dude can relate to anything, it’s feeling like running is a little hard, and also guilt for eating terrible processed food.)
“People think I wake up and do pilates and have kale for breakfast,” Inman says in ad, part of Saucony’s Seeker campaign. “No, I’m running because I have a hangover, and had, like, corn dogs for breakfast.”
Also appearing: the Blerch, a pudgy, cherubic manifestation of Inman’s perpetual desire to eat cake. “I used to have this idea that, if I stopped running—mid-run— this overweight, sad version of myself, which was following me, would catch me. And I would become it,” Inman says in the spot.
Inman has parlayed his enormously successful cartooning career (The Oatmeal has 3.5 million likes on Facebook alone) into a series of books (notably The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances) and the absurdist, totally NSFW card game Exploding Kittens.
But as far as fitness is concerned, Inman’s greatest accomplishment—aside from this cool Saucony spot about his life, of course—is his Beat the Blerch run series, which has inspired his fans and fellow runners to defy their inner cake cravings and join him on the road. It’s another reminder how a wacky (if popular) Internet culture influences nominally people to do hilariously non-serious things, like complete road races named after cartoon manifestations of cake cravings. Then again, if it inspires people to a life of fitness, hey, why not?
“I wanna be one of those leathery old guys who still runs crazy marathons and is super-fit.”