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I am fairly new to running – I have been “at it” now for almost two years. In that time, I have been asked on numerous occasions by both friends and family if I would like to run with them, and my answer is always the same, “No thank you.” I try to be polite, but I am pretty sure that I sometimes come off sounding a bit rude or standoffish.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of these folks. The simple, plain truth is that I have never been fond of group exercise. A friend of mine insists that this is because I am an introvert, so I wanted to explore this a bit further to see if there is a correlation. It turns out she may be correct.
Introvert or extrovert?
Psychologically speaking, an introvert is described as someone who is sustained from being alone. It’s not that introverts don’t enjoy people (as a matter of fact, most introverts have very good social skills). It is simply that crowds and social situations can leave them feeling a bit weary.
Introverts enjoy thinking and exploring their thoughts and feelings, and they make up approximately 30 to 40 percent of the human population. It is my contention that introverts are more prone to running solo.
Solo running or running with others – it’s all healthy, and both have advantages.
Conversely, extroverts are energized from being around other human beings. They enjoy social situations (like joining a running club, perhaps) and actually seek them out. They would rather talk with other people than sit alone and think, and interestingly, extroverts think best “while” they are talking. People who are extroverted have a keen interest in the outside world and make up roughly 60 to 70 percent of the population.
Solo running or running with others – it’s all healthy, and both have advantages. Running alone can be comforting and centering, a time for quiet reflection.
Some runners simply prefer the peace of their own company to that of another individual or group. Many people use their running time to plan and schedule their lives. In terms of training, there is a focus on personal goals, and motivation comes from within.
Those who run alone enjoy the freedom of running when they want, where they want, how fast and how far. A person might even get a better workout running alone, as they don’t have to slow their pace to match another’s.
One consideration to be taken when running alone however, is personal safety, and the following precautions should always be taken:
- Let someone know where and when you are running
- Avoid running in remote areas
- Carry a cell phone, a whistle and perhaps a small can of mace or bear spray
- Run in the daylight, or be extremely careful at night
In terms of making friends and gaining advice and expertise from fellow runners, solo runners can do this online, through our running forums.
Running with another individual or a group also has its advantages, beginning with a commitment. Those who run with others make a contract so to speak, show up, and follow through with the run.
Many people prefer conversing with others while running, claiming that time passes more quickly, making the run more enjoyable. This also presents the opportunity to access another person’s knowledge and experience. Fellow runners also motivate one another with encouragement and cheer.
It can also be argued that those who run with other individuals get a better workout, as they will more likely finish what they start and may quicken pace to match another runner who is more fit. Running in numbers is definitely safer, but it doesn’t hurt to take added precautions like carrying a whistle and a cell phone.
Whether you are a lone wolf or prefer running with the pack, you can enjoy the welcoming presence of a running community by enrolling in a race. Most races welcome all runners, all ages and all speeds.
Races are a lot of fun and encourage camaraderie and good, healthy competition. They provide a place to meet like-minded people, those who understand that whether you compete with yourself or with others, you are first and foremost a runner!