Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? It's one of the few "psych" tests I have done, or at least I've done knock-off online versions. Here's a decent one--at least as far as I can tell it's decent. I sometimes wonder if these are just more-elaborate versions of a women's mag quiz.
One thing I'm fairly sure these tests do get right: they always peg me as an introvert. I remember a long time ago being at a crazy post-college New Year's Party and ducking into an empty office because big crowds tire me out. At almost every party I go to I'll do this after a while: find an empty room, a bookshelf or even a bathroom where I can go be alone for a while. In the case of this party, a friend of mine found me in that office and said, "Ah....taking a break from the party! You must be one of those introverts who can pass for extroverts sometimes."
And he was right: I am an introvert who can pretend extroversion. I worked as a reporter for several years, and to be a reporter you have to be able to initiate and carry on conversations with strangers. But I never was comfortable at this. Ultimately I'm much happier as the librarian I am now. I do still have to talk to people I don't know as part of my job, but it's usually one-on-one and cordial (reporters often have to be confrontational).
What does any of this have to do with running?
Well, this weekend I'm going to run with a group. Someone I knew briefly back in college got in touch last fall. Turns out he's a runner, too, lives in Boulder and he'd just run his half-marathon personal record, something he attributes in large measure to group training. He invited me along on one of his group's Saturday runs, and I decided to give it a try.
This scares me. I've run with individual friends, with Cynthia and Kathy and my old friend Angela, and I've always liked how this ups the fun factor. I've run on two 24-hour relay teams. I also enjoy being an anonymous member of the crowd during races.
But in races everyone's focused on his or her own run. Cynthia and Kathy are friends in other contexts--they know me. A training group....that's A LOT of other people, and, well, they chat. I'm bad at chatting. I'm scared I'll be the slowest person out there (Darren's got me doing a 90-minute run, all at a low heart rate). And I'm scared...well, I'm scared of all the other things that scare me in any new social situation: that I won't know what to say, that I won't come across as having a sense of humor, that I'll say something to make me put my foot in my mouth, that they won't see me as a "real" runner or as a very interesting person. (These things have all happened to me, and not just back in middle school. Maybe the other introverts out there can back me up on that.)
But I'm going anyway because it won't be the first time I've done something in running that scares me, and it's always been for the best. I'm going because it was nice of my friend to ask me, and surely he doesn't think I'm a total loser or he wouldn't have issued the invitation. I'm going because I see running with a group, at least sometimes, as a missing piece in my training. I'm going because when this blog goes away, I'll need a support group and because I think it's stupid to live in a place like Boulder County and NOT know more runners in person (and actually run with some of them sometimes!). I'm going because I have a marathon in April, and three-plus hour training runs alone get dull.
I do feel that, given my personality and time constraints, I'll probably still do most of my runs alone (I hope I'll get to do at least a long run or two with Cynthia and Kathy this cycle). But getting a little more social in general can't hurt.Wish me luck! I know this sounds like a lot of drama for something that will hopefully be fun. Even for a consummate introvert.
What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert (and what do you think of tests like Myers-Briggs? useful or complete BS)? Do you train with a group?