A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Running as an introvert’s escape mechanism

on October 14, 2014

I’ve been sitting in meetings like this in various parts of the country since last Wednesday. I’m listening to lots of very cool science and talking to some lovely and brilliant people but I am EXHAUSTED.


Variations of these views for the last week

Variations of these views for the last week

Part of that exhaustion is due to lots of early wake-ups for planes and meetings, but most of it is from the small talk and networking that comes along with this kind of thing. I’m incredibly introverted, as in scored “introvert” on every single question on my most recent Meyers-Brigg test. What does it mean to be introverted? It’s not necessarily that you’re shy; it’s more a factor of energy. Introverts tend to draw energy from within, from our time spent exploring ideas, emotions and impressions in our own little minds. This is in contrast to extroverts, who draw energy from interactions with other people.

I certainly seem to get more introverted as I get older, but I’m also learning to work with it in terms of doing the networking and other things required with my advancing my career. One of the things that helps me to work around it is allowing myself dedicated time to decompress alone and that’s where running comes in. Running really gives me time to let my mind wander and recharge from all of the energy I feel like I lose when I’m making conversation with lots of people I don’t know. (This is not to say that those aren’t lovely people and lovely conversations. My brain is just wired a little differently so even though they’re interesting and helpful conversations, they’re tiring.)

I think Melissa at Eatontherun.net said it perfectly when she said that after a run “I’m drained physically but feel so mentally and emotionally full after a few miles that there is no way I could ever give it up.” This recent round of meetings, I didn’t have to step away at any point to call my husband just because I was overwhelmed and needed a mental break from people and I attribute that in a lot of ways to the fact that I always knew I had a chance to run later in the day and recharge.

The sidewalks along Ben Franklin Parkway were so nice for runners!

The sidewalks along Ben Franklin Parkway were so nice for runners!

Having all of that time without distractions other than the sound of my feet hitting the pavement also gives me the time and mental space I need to work through all kinds of things or even better, nothing at all. Stacey at Sportinglifearkansas.com said it perfectly when she said “When I pause to consider what I thought about for all that time, I cannot remember a topic or thought.” I’ve definitely had lots of those runs and I’ve also had runs where I came home having finally solved some personal or work problem. A lot of the things I write about here on the blog are a reflection of the thoughts that have percolated through my mind when I’m running.

I’m so psychologically dependent on my solo runs that I get a little panicky if someone offers to run with me because there really isn’t a nice way to turn them down. I’ve never actually run with another person so I’m not sure how that would work or what it would look like. Maybe one day I’ll get brave enough to try it. The closest I come are races, which are great because you get the positive peer pressure and pacing from the group without any expectation I put anything out to contribute (see Why I love racing here). My friend Mildred in Indiana is married to a very introverted guy who happens to run. When I was visiting them last winter, I was heading out to run one day and it was such a funny little awkward two introvert moment where he was wondering if he should offer to run with me and I was wondering how to nicely say I wanted to run alone. The joys of navigating life as an introvert.:)

I love that running can suit the needs and interests of both introverts and extroverts. Where do you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum?


2 responses to “Running as an introvert’s escape mechanism

  1. Kristin says:

    Hey!! Great post!! I totally understand what you’re talking about! I’m definitely an introvert and need my space/time to myself to reflect and unwind. I usually run with my husband but I’ve been running solo lately because I, too am enjoying the alone time. At races, I can get very overwhelmed with all the people running near me. I definitely like space. 🙂 🙂 🙂 xoxoxo Happy Tuesday!!

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