Running is a great hobby for introverts. It’s one of the few things we introverts can do alone without getting funny looks and second glances (I’m an introvert and I do many things alone – I’m continually amazed by the funny looks I get when I go out to dinner alone, it isn’t that odd, is it?).
But even in running, the tyranny of extroverts still manages to seep in (I know, my introvert bias is showing).
In running magazines and on Instagram, we can’t escape images of jam-packed races, and smiling running clubs doing group runs.
Running While Introverted
To way over-simplify a complex topic: Introverts are people who recharge their batteries by being quiet and being alone. Social interactions and large groups can be exhausting for introverts. It’s important to note that introversion is different from social anxiety or shyness. We are quite capable of being in a crowd or having conversations with strangers, we just find it mentally and psychically draining.
I am the very definition of introvert. I am totally exhausted by large groups and tons of social interaction, so I know of what I speak.
Here are a few tips for running while introverted.
It’s OK To Never Do Group Runs
While there are many great reasons to be part of a running club (and it can make for great Instagram photos), it isn’t necessary for a happy running life.
If you want to be a solo runner, be a solo runner.
No groups or teams required.
I’ve written before about why introverts should at least occasionally run in a group. If you’re an introvert and you’ve never run with a group before, I’d recommend you try it at least once before you discount it as not for you (it may not be what you expect).
I am as introverted a runner as you will find, and even I’ve found the benefits of (occasionally) running with a group.
But if you know it’s not your thing, or if you have no interest in finding out if it’s your thing, feel free to give it a pass.
It’s OK Not To Race
Most races are getting bigger and bigger every year. The largest marathons now have 60,000+ runners. While I’m sure the Chicago or New York Marathons are amazing, I think that being in a crowd with 59,999 others for 4+ hours would be exhausting enough, even before I factor in the running.
If races (or more specifically – race day crowds) are overwhelming, or at least not enjoyable, it’s perfectly acceptable to be a runner and never once sign up for a race. Or stick to smaller, quieter races and feel free to ignore the 60,000+ runner 10ks (and that isn’t a made up number, the Atlanta Peachtree Race is a 10k with 60,000 runners – how is that even logistically possible?)
Registering for a race is not a prerequisite for ‘being a runner.’
Online running clubs, Strava groups, Instagram communities, and virtual races can all be great ways for introverted runners to get the benefits and support of a running club, but when, where, and how often you choose.
You name a theme, characteristic, geography, fandom, or cause and I guarantee there is an online community and/or a virtual race for you (I know I’ve mentioned the amazingly supportive community of the Hogwarts Running Club – thought I can only personally vouch for Ravenclaw tower – and the Whovian Running Club before).
You engage with them on your timeline and on your terms. Perfect for introverts.
Consider Hitting The Trails
I have found that running in nature is the perfect fuel to re-charge my introverted self.
More nature, less of everything else.
Fewer people, smaller crowds, less congestion. Admittedly, some trail races can still be a little crowded at the start, but they almost always thin out nicely so there is plenty of elbow room after the first mile.
If you are an introvert, try trail running or doing trail races to both run and recharge.
One big downside of running alone is safety.
Especially if you are on the trails, running alone means that… well… you are alone.
If you twist an ankle, have a run-in with some critter or even worse case scenarios, you need to be able to protect yourself and help yourself.
Runner safety is a huge topic, and one worthy of its own post(s), but at the very least:
- Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back and/or leave a note of where you will be running
- Carry your phone, and have the direct-dial emergency numbers for any parks you’ll be running in, in addition to 911
- Learn basic self-defense
- Learn basic first aid and especially if you’ll be on the trail, carry a Mini First Aid Kit
- Be aware of your surroundings, running alone is not a great time to zone out and listen to music.
What about you? Are you a running introvert? What advice do you have?