The Endurance Sport Called Comic-Con
Don't catch yourself winded halfway through day 1 with no energy for a long wait ahead.
by MJ Wilke
Comic-cons are an endurance sport. You need to pace yourself, because you’ll go nonstop for days, sometimes running on nothing but adrenaline. When it’s over, you’ll be exhausted — and that’s just the emotional side — let’s not forget the physical side of comic-cons. For a trip to a larger comic-con like San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC), you can expect several days of bending, lifting, pulling, carrying, standing, walking, and stairs. You need to become a comic-con Jedi. And in order to do that, like Luke on the planet Dagobah under the tutelage of Yoda, you need to train.
While at the con, you’re in the flow, in your happy place, not really noticing the additional physical activity. That is until the evening, when your back, knees and ankles all hurt. A little light preparation a couple weeks before will go a long way toward getting the most out of your experience once you are at the con. You don’t want to look like Indiana Jones after he failed to get the Ark — sore, stiff, and battered. There are a few simple things to help get ready so that you’re in tip-top shape.
If you don’t typically walk or run several times a week, start slowly with walking a leisurely few blocks moving up to miles over time. You’ll be surprised how much walking just a couple blocks three or four times a week for two weeks before the con will help. Gradually increase the distance you are walking and by week two add a backpack with five pounds of weight. I find five bottled waters in a backpack are easier on my back than a five-pound weight. This is my own method; you can try any number of the “Couch to 5K” apps available to get professional training. There’s even an app called “Zombies, Run!” that will help you to train.
Plan on walking a total of three miles minimum each day of the con. Last year, my daily mileage for SDCC was: Wed., 3.29 miles; Thurs., 6.27 miles; Fri., 5.09 miles; Sat., 4.36 miles; Sun., 2.60 miles. Most of these were leisurely steps; however, there were some more aerobic as I was running between sessions. Now factor in carrying a backpack for all those miles. See what I carry in my backpack, add a bottle of water, and my pack is more than five pounds without any swag that con-goers pick up along the way.
Hint: pre-pack your daily backpack, then scrutinize it to see if there are lightweight or smaller versions available of any of your items.
If you are like most, your suitcase is nearly 50 pounds and a carryon or second piece is another 30 pounds. You will be lifting that suitcase in and out of trunks several times as well as pulling that combined weight of the suitcase and carryon down the length of the hotel to your room. I confess that I am an over packer, but I stand ready to lug my luggage, all 80 pounds of it. Then there is the cooler, with more lifting, carrying, and pulling.
On trips to the grocery store for the weeks leading up to the con, carry a basket around for your groceries instead of pushing a cart. If you need the cart, try not to lean on it, especially while waiting in line to check out. Pretend you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse, if that helps.
At SDCC in particular, there are more stairs than I want to remember. It always seemed that whatever panel room line I needed to be in, the end of the line was out the door and down the stairs, which you will have to go back up. Sometimes the lines move in bursts, so you can’t plan on a leisurely one step at a time going up; it may be quicker than that. Keep this in mind and try to add more stairs, even a few, into your normal daily life. And if it helps, try to imagine Yoda in your backpack offering words of encouragement such as, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
With just a little extra preparation for the endurance sport called comic-con, you will feel better during the con — and you may be able to pack even more into your con experience.
MJ Wilke is the founder of Wayward Nerd. She is a road warrior. A nerd. A trekkie. A whovian. A Star Wars fanatic. She will go where no one has gone before, come back and post it here.