October 14, 2009


During college we'd take all those stupid personality tests and I'd always rise victoriously as an EXTROVERT. Once I was through with college, entering the workforce, some stupid company would convince my employer that "team building" exercises were a total must...and those exercises always including some ridiculous game to determine whether you were an introvert or EXTROVERT. Again, it almost wasn't even a question on which side of the fence I fell on....I have always found myself squarely in the middle of whatever social-ness was going on, and the chattiness....well it speaks for itself, right?

I have even been told that I could get a wall to talk to me if I tried hard enough. I've yet to try hard enough but honestly, I get it from my Dad...the one and only person I know that really can strike up a conversation with anyone, including a wall, if he can't get anyone else to listen.

The only thing that ever made people cock their head sideways in confusion about my extroversion (that word just sounds wrong) is the fact that I'm an accountant...and accountant's are known for having their head up a spreadsheet's rear and loving every quiet minute of it. I guess I was the exception to that accountant rule...and I'm sure my endless chatter about debits and credits made all my college professors want to shun me from the profession for good.

Accountants should be seen and not heard, right?

So it's been well established since the day I formed my first word that I like to talk (who am I kidding....I'm sure it began before I could even form a word.....

At any rate, despite my overwhelming urge to be seen and heard all the time, I'm slowly finding that when it comes to running....well...I just like to be alone.

Okay, so not all the time, but most of the time. When I look back and recall my best runs...the runs that I don't feel an ounce of struggle....the runs where I feel like I could run forever...the runs where my human legs are replaced with cheetah legs....well, those sort of runs are when I've been running solo.

I'm not sure why. Maybe running solo gives me some clarity and focus so I can concentrate on the "purpose of the run." Or maybe it's just that for once, because I'm all alone, I don't feel like I have to talk to anyone.

I was reminded of my introversion (doesn't sound nearly as wrong as "extroversion") last night at the track. Because I've been involved with Race for the Cure, and they have a meeting every single solitary Tuesday (okay, maybe not that many...but they meet alot), I've missed the track workouts. Most weeks I've convinced Troy to go with me to make up the work, but this week I got to miss the meeting and head back to the track! I was totally excited to be there, but not nearly as excited to do the actual work at hand...6 x 30 sec strides (the easy part), followed by 2 x 800s (okay, still easy), followed by 3 x 1200s (that crazy RC really does want to break me).

My first inclination that something was amiss was the fact that I wanted to get there early and get a head start. I wasn't sure why, but I just wanted to be early. I began my 1 mile warm-up and was happy to just be running alone. I got a couple of laps in when super-sonic GT decided to run with me. Now don't get me wrong, any chance I can get to run with this little running machine...well, I'll take it. She's half my age and runs twice as fast as I do. One lap with her is enough to boost my confidence for a year. I ended up running 2 laps at an 8:30 pace with her....yeah, not exactly "warm-up" pace but it was so worth it....

(As a side note: In the course of that run, I decided to ask her two stupid questions: 1. What is her easy pace? A 7:30...yikes! and 2. What was RC going to make them do tonight (we have a couple of super-star high school runners that RC and others coach separate from our workouts)? 4 x 1 mile repeats..yikes again!)

I finished the warm-up and began my striders. I was running with a group of four and felt fine. Then it was time for the 800s. I ran the first one entirely too fast (6:19 pace...when I should have been running like a 6:50). I knew if I kept that up I wouldn't make it to see that last 1200. So, I slowly broke myself away from the group I was running with and finished the rest on my own. Granted, they probably still thought they were running with me, some being slightly ahead of me, and some being slightly behind, but in my mind I was running all alone. There wasn't another single person out there, in my mind. I didn't stop and chat on my cool down laps....maybe a few small words in response to a direct question, but for the most part it was just me and my mind.

As the miles continued I realized that I really do like running alone. No chitter small talk...just me and the run at hand. I finished up way above pace (goal was 3:30 for the 800s and nailed them at 3:09 and 3:24 and goal for the 1200s was 5:26 and I finished them in 5:11, 5:18, and 5:24) and was pretty happy with my performance. Then I began the cool down...all the dark of the evening....4 laps around the track.

I guess technically speaking I wasn't "all alone" was nice to hear those that passed me excited about their victory for the evening...or the applause from the crowd at the pee-wee football game going on in the field below the track...or the kiddos running in the dark waiting on Mom and Dad to "hurry UP!" because it was getting close to bed-time.

But the best part of the noise was the constant shuffle of my feet hitting the track...the swish of my drenched shorts...the thump of my heart beat making its decline...and positively nothing else.


Stefanie said...

I don't believe I have ever been called an Introvert in my entire life. It is just not me. Heck I have had introverts tell me that I make them nervous because of my extrovertedness. (Is that even a word?)

However, I can totally relate.

Here are my two explanations for it.

1) Even in large races (AKA Disney and Country Music), I still like running alone. Sure I am among other runners but I am with myself and my thoughts. I am inside my own head and I don't have to share my thoughts with anyone. I love running large races without a running partner because it is the best time for me to observe. I can see the person who is having a great day. The person who is struggling through a particular mile. The people cheering. The little kid on the sidelines. The volunteer at the aid station. I see it all and take it all in. Running is the one time you don't have to engage you mouth but can engage your mind and it is perfectly ok. People can cheer for you and you can cheer for other runners and if no one says a word back it is ok. I have become a much better observer as I have become a runner. I see things now that I would have never seen before.

2) Running alone is the time where I truely feel like I have accomplished something without anyone elses help. No one ran me in to the finish line. No one talked me through it. I depended on no one for my accomplishments during that run. I did it alone, by myself.

SO yes running can make some of us Extroverts, a temporary introvert. I say go with it. We don't have to be Chatty Cathy's 24 hours a day!

busyrunningmama said...

I am an extroverted accountant too!! I love to chat and talk and socialize. As far as my runs, I like to run solo and with a partner, it depends on the day!!

Anonymous said...

i always run alone....just something quiet...a time for reflection...even prayer...and when i am through, its a cool feeling that i did it all alone....

Twincerely,Olga said...

HI! I just found you and I'm gald I did!I do my best running solo!!! Stop by