Archive | August, 2011

Big Schtick – Sheepish

29 Aug

Big Schtick - Sheepish

Runners like to make fun while running. However, it’s a basic kind of fun without little refinement. Especially long distance running can be a bit boring at times and a joke to lighten the mood makes the boredom go away.

Pride of lions

29 Aug

A few weeks ago I started a comic strip called “Big Schtick.” It was more like me venting ideas about running. However, I changed directions when I saw this would get old pretty soon. Within a few days I penciled together a cast of 5 characters, of whom I know little, not even what they look like exactly, even less how they act and reaction to situations.

Pride of lions

It feels like throwing myself into a pit filled with hungry lions who didn’t have anything to eat for weeks and weeks. Not good.

I will muddle through, but let that be a lesson to you (and myself) to do a test run of your web comic before publishing it. On the other hand, I would never have started this comic if I kept waiting for things to click. I guess I’m someone who needs trial by fire to get off his lazy behind and actually do something.

Like creating a web comic.

In need of character

24 Aug

Maybe you have noticed I started a web comic some weeks ago now, called “Big Schtick”. It’s a translation of the Dutch language web comic, called “Stok achter de Deur” and deals with the sport of running. In the first three episodes I (sort of) vented my ideas about running, but I guess this doesn’t scale. At some point those ideas will dry up or become boring. So I need some kind of continuity. I thought a character cast would work best.

Truth be told I had a joke, but I couldn’t get it to work with anonymous characters, like with the previous episodes. I thought I needed identifiable personalities. So making a virtue of a need, I decided to make them the cast for the comic itself.

The Jolly Bunch

Meet the Jolly Bunch. It’s a group of friends who like to run together, three guys and two gals. I haven’t solidified their characters, but here’s the general idea:

  • Jon, the little guy, is a prankster. He likes practical jokes, which make the others laugh and keep their spirits up, even if the run is a bit boring.
  • Pete is the seasoned runner. He has run many races and the others rely on his knowledge about running. He can outrun all of them, but he always comes back to join them.
  • Bob is the newcomer. He has a weight problem and his doctor told him to start running to lose weight. The others always make fun of him, but he’s still a valued member of the group.
  • Nat is the friendly, outgoing one. When pesky non-runners try to mock them, she always tries to let them see the runners’ side of the story, so they understand.
  • Sara is the youngest of the bunch. Her boyfriend doesn’t want her to run, but she does anyway. Maybe she loves running more than anything and her boyfriend can only play second fiddle. Nevertheless, she always is on her cell to tell (or text) she loves him.

All this is still in beta. A lot of things can still change and probably will.

Thanks for reading and if you have any advice for me (and I really need it right now!), or want to ask me anything, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Big Schtick – Coach

22 Aug

Big Schtick - Coach

The sport of running is very prone to injuries, much more so than for instance swimming or cycling. This means you need to train responsibly and for most this means training under the guidance of a coach.

Now top athletes can pay personal coaches, but less talented runners usually take part in a running group, either physically or virtually. Most, if not all, track & field clubs offer programs for runners of all levels and they supply a coach to guide the runners in group activities, called training sessions.

If you’re serious about running, you will probably also run on your own, and some coaches (but not all) will help you with that as well. Of course, all this is not free, but because you’re with many, it’s affordable.

Sometimes when I see how coaches approach training I can only frown.

Especially male runners want to train hard and far, which actually goes against common wisdom among experienced runners. You’re supposed to train according to what your body can recover from just enough to do the next training session without getting injured or burnt out over the weeks or months. However, since for many men their weekly (or twice-a-week) training session is their only outlet from office life; they want to release their tension and lose themselves in training, like a mental short break. Many coaches give in to that urge and make their training too intensive, too tough.

Then there is this common belief among runners (both beginners and experience runners) that in order to run faster in races, you need to run even faster in training (but shorter, of course). Few believe that taking it easy on the speed is better on the long run. It prevents excessive training load and lets it adjust to slowly increasing demands. Yes, even if you keep training the same, but moderate, you will get faster, by virtue of your intent to be faster. If you lack this intent, no amount of training is going to make you faster than a certain initial bump in speed when you start a training program. It’s mostly between the ears.

I hope you like the comic and keep reading it. Until next week!

Big Schtick – Information = Knowledge

15 Aug

Big Schtick - Information = Knowledge

Many runners pride themselves in their achievements. They keep track of the speed, distance and how often they train. It sometimes seems to take on a life of its own. Stats don’t make you a better runner, running does.

Okay, okay. I used to think having fun while running is the only thing that counts, but I too have fallen prey to the soothing words of marketers and have bought equipment to keep track of my achievements. Now I can share with like-minded people.

However, it’s not the same as actually running. I mean looking back at what you have done is different from being in the moment. This may sound very Zen-like or hifalutin, but it’s not meant that way. Having fun while doing something and not having to justify your actions is liberating. In most things we do in life, we are dependent on others. However, when we run, we propel our bodies by pushing against Mother Earth and we do it on our own. This is what is so fun about running. At least for me and if I listen to other runners, for many of them as well.

That doesn’t stop me being competitive, though. I enter road races with the intention to beat others. However, it’s all in fun and play, since there’s no money involved (at least, not at the level I’m running). It’s largely pretending to be better than others.

I hope you like the comic and keep reading it. Until next week!