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An Introverted Runner – That is Me

Running is an important part of my life, but not for the reasons that are obvious:

  • weight-loss
  • physical fitness
  • mental benefits
  • more leeway in eating what I want

They are important and they are a part of “why” I run.

Comfort Zone

Running does something for me that no other activity does, it takes me out of comfort zone – a lot.

No, it isn’t about running faster or further either.

huh???

Running makes me want to get out and be with other people, go places or do things, I wouldn’t otherwise.

What are you talking about Harold?

Through running I have met people I never would have met otherwise (both people who are relatively famous or those who are less famous, but have become friends), go places (run in Central Park, gone to Runner’s World Headquarters),  done things (attended the inaugural Runners World Half Festival as a featured blogger or earned a living writing about running/healthy living for a year).

Those are a few of the things that running has done for me.

Because I run, I have done these things even though I am…

Rather Introverted

Being an introvert is not a bad thing, there are many more of us around than people realize. As I have aged and gotten to know myself better – I have finally accepted that being an introvert is just part of who I am and it isn’t some strange malady that I have to endure.

What is an introvert?

This is from About.com and fits my experience quite well:

They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.”

Maybe that is one of the reasons why I enjoy blogging so much too. 🙂

Introvert Image from CJ Hiltons Facebook Page

Introvert Image from CJ Hilton’s Facebook Page

 

If you really watch me, when I am in social situations, I tend to stand off to the side, watch what is going on.

Sure I will talk with those who stop and visit with me, I might even attempt to initiate some conversations (that is really hard for me with people I do not know – well). I usually keep moving around the fringes and avoid the people who are supposed to be the center of attention – it is too draining to compete for their attention. When the “small talk” with someone starts to slow down or become awkward, I move on.

After I get “tired” of being a “social butterfly”, I will move off to someplace where others are not, to recharge, before I move back into the social fray.

Running

It is different at an event related to running, I know what I am supposed to talk about, I don’t have to worry about trying to keep up “small talk” about other subjects that really don’t mean a lot to me, with people I do not know and/or can trust.

I am with people who generally have something in common with me and I am comfortable talking about:

  • running – how the race went, what we are planning to do or how our running is going
  • training – how is my training going or what training plan we am using
  • gear – how our new GPS watch is doing, what new gear we are using
  • injuries – what is my current injury and commiserate with others about theirs
  • running shoes – how much we like or hate our current shoes and what we have seen that really interests us for our next pair
  • weather – how it is affecting our running
  • family – if we know the family how things are going

and the best part is that more than a few runners are introverts too and don’t take my so-called social awkwardness as too unusual or strange. When I move off to be by myself for a couple of minutes they don’t look at me like I am a weirdo or freak, they just give me some space when I need it and welcome me back, when I get around to coming back.

Going to races either as a participant or volunteer, local group runs and being a member of the local running club gives me opportunities to meet and/or see other people, I wouldn’t otherwise. We talk about running, training, running shoes and as we get to know each other better about other things, but it is a “safe” social environment for me.

When I am volunteering at running events, I still tend to choose activities where I am doing things “more” independently, although when I “worked” the Skechers booth last month, I did have fun, but when I got home, I was more toast from working the booth than I was the race. I crashed and needed to recharge.

Social Media

Then there is the online running community. Sometimes it seems as though I talk more with my online running friends than I do people in the real world. At times it is easier sometimes to talk via social media than it is face-to-face. I know that I have met several runners through social media, who would not be a part of my life otherwise.

Luckily, I have met a few runners that I have gotten to know through social media and when we meet it felt like I was talking to an old friend, which was a good thing. Even though I will never meets some of these people in person, I consider them friends and know from experience if I did meet them, we would sit down and talk like old friends.

So my online running community and social media also helps me to not disappear into a shell and become that old weird guy up the street.

However, I never want to allow social media to be my primary social outlet and know that I need actual human interaction beyond a screen.

The reality is that

there are all kinds of different personalities in runners, however, if you look closely, will find more than a few runners who are pretty introverted and according to some things I have read, that is one reason some runners are attracted to running, they do not have to interact with others, unless they want to…it gives us that “me” time that is so valuable in today’s overly connected world.

I know running is stereotypically the “loneliness” of running, however, for me it has become the way that I stay in contact with other people and my primary social outlet.

If I didn’t run, I have a feeling that I would easily just fall into a routine of seeing a very limited amount of family/friends/neighbors, work around the house and that would be the limits of my social activities.

My world would be a lot less interesting and lonely, if I wasn’t a runner.

How about you if you are an introvert or an extrovert (somewhere in between?), how does running impact your social life.

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6 Comments »

  1. I feel similarly! With running I feel like it’s something I want to do with others, as opposed to all alone. I’m a swimmer too and that’s very solitary. But running–there is nothing better than being with other runners and having that camaraderie!

    • The camaraderie that I feel is different than I feel when I am around other people, it just seems more “real” to me. I run most of the time by myself an have come to appreciate those times I get to enjoy the company of other runners.

  2. This totally makes sense … and in some ways I think of myself as an introvert. Actually until a few years I would have absolutely called myself an introvert, and still have many qualities that are clearly in the introvert camp.

    I don’t know why … but after moving to Corning (or after getting my thyroid failure addressed, simultaneous events) I am much more willing to talk to everyone and anyone, more social in general, open, and so on … but I still have no problem with silence or being alone.

    But it is really interesting what running does for your social tendencies – I had people at a meeting I just went to to celebrate a project from a few years ago getting recognized at the corporate level, and people were approaching me about running, and so on … funny stuff.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Since I have retired, I find that I have less and less need to be in large groups of people I don’t have anything in common with, especially when I feel so drained emotionally after. Even going to popular restaurants hold little pleasure for me, when I can have a nice quiet meal at home and enjoy the conversations much more fully :-).

      Being an introvert is not a bad thing, but is just part of what makes all unique 🙂

  3. I’m introverted. I’m new to running, but already am discovering some of the social benefits you describe. I am really happy about it too, since I also have social anxiety on top of being introverted. It not only drains me, it gives me anxiety. For one thing, there’s the runner’s high. I will talk and talk and talk then (especially helpful after a race when others are around). I just wonder who that woman is, because it’s not the non-running me!! But I probably am not talking as much as I think because it’s so foreign to me it just seems like I’m blabbering. Great post, thanks.

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