Monday, January 7, 2013

Introverts and Group Runs

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?


  1. I'm much shyer than anyone who knows me ever believes. My job forces me to be outgoing, and the Internet/blogging helps bc when you meet people from there you already have some history, even if its all virtual. You'll be just fine in this group. What do runners like to talk about?? Running! It'll be perfect...and possibly give your husband a break. ;-)

    I did all of my training alone for the first 1.5 yrs I ran. Now I have a group of friends I do a lot of running with and am so spoiled by that, but it was really hard for me to join then bc I was WAY slower when I started. It was good for my endurance, though...they'd stop at turns and get a nice rest, and when I caught up we'd go again. :P

    One other thing running and blogging have helped me to embrace, though, is myself as I am. And that's a nice sentiment to take into a situation as daunting as a new group.

    Hey, I'm just going to blog in your comment section, ok? :-)

  2. raina_smalltownrunnerJanuary 8, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    You can do it!
    I like to run alone for selfish reasons, but am starting to really enjoy the occasional run with friends of varying levels. It's a nice distraction!

  3. I love running alone and running with people sometime! I have the same fear of being last, but normally if the group is big, there are people of different levels and someone will run my pace or at least around it. If you don't want to chat it up while running, it is a great time to just listen. I'm not good at running, breathing and talking all at the same time, so I usually just put a couple yeahs and uh uh's in while others run and chat. :) Good Luck hope you have fun (I'm sure you will)

  4. I think you will enjoy it! I do most of my running alone but do enjoy a group run or the company of others when the opportunity arises.

  5. I am an introvert too! What I have found is that I prefer running with another *person* vs. a group. On the rare occasion when I've run with a group of girls, I've felt a little off. Maybe you can find a buddy within the group and partner up with him/her. My coach is always telling me that you improve a lot faster with a partner to push you. Keeping that in mind, you can do it! Let us know how it goes.

  6. Runners are the nicest people ever! You have an automatic subject to discuss (running, training, upcoming races) and if all else fails, most people enjoy silently running side-by-side with someone! You are going to have an amazing time!! Good luck! (and tell us all about it!)

  7. I think you'll be happily surprised! The first time I did our local group long run, I was a nervous wreck. But I found a great group of friendly ladies who took me under their wings. I'm still running with them eight years later! And I guarantee you will NOT be the slowest one there--far from it.

  8. I'm sure you have guessed that I'm an extrovert. I'm not a very friendly extrovert though. I hate change, which means I love running with my specific friend and no one else. I realize I have issues. I do not know how you do three hour training runs alone. I've got hour runs alone down, but more than that and I get a little antsy.

  9. I am similar- an introvert who can come across as an extrovert at times. But I've actually enjoyed group runs this cycle... not every week, but it was nice the times that I made it.

  10. Good luck! You can do it! Just think, they're all probably just as scared as you are. ;)

  11. I don't know what I am...most people think i'm an extrovert and tho I love my friends, I really appreciate my alone time and feel I need a lot of it.

    I rarely run with other people because I like to sleep in on the weekends (sleeping until 9 or 9:30 is not unusual for me), but I can make exceptions - esp for YOU! :)

  12. I relate to this! I am totally an introvert. On the Meyers Briggs, I am an ISTJ. I am sure the run went well though. I think most of us introverts are pretty good at faking it. I met up with some girls on and now I have been running with them a few times a month, and it's definitely nicer to do the long runs with someone else! Today's 14 miler went by like a flash, thanks to company who were strangers a few months ago!

  13. Jen @ runforanna.blogspot.comJanuary 17, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    From reading your newer posts, I know the group run didn't happen, but I would be so feeling the same way. I am very much an introvert, as well. However, I've been running with my son the last couple of months, and I do see an advantage to running with others (I never thought I'd say that). Running with someone does hold you accountable in ways I never expected. I think I would feel differently if it were someone else, though. My son doesn't expect me to "chit-chat" the whole run (that would be a lot of pressure for me). I don't see any group runs in my future, but I'm interested to hear how it goes for you (any group runs planned before the termination of your blog?).