I was reading an article online from the UAE-based Khaleej Times called ‘Long-distance runners lap up miles for the love of it’ that analysed why people run, especially marathons, and what sort of personalities are drawn to running marathons.
American sports psychologist Gregory Chertok was attributed in the article as saying ‘long-distance running seems to be appreciated by those who enjoy solitude – or periods of solitude – and are OK with monotony’. During my running life I certainly enjoy the time alone that running brings me, to either gather my thoughts, think through issues or on a really good day think of absolutely nothing at all and just get lost in the run!
It was interesting to note that a 2007 published scientific study (The psychology of the marathoner: Of one mind and many, John Raglin) seemed to contradict this ‘solitude’ approach, claiming that marathoners ‘are generally less introverted than non-athletes and possess more desirable mental health profiles, scoring lower in depression, anxiety and neuroticism, and higher in desirable variables such as emotional stability and psychic vigor’. It was also noted though the act of running marathons is not a cause of these factors, but rather that these personality traits make it more likely for these people to be pre-disposed to an attraction to the challenge of marathons.
I largely run by myself due to the fact that it gives me greater flexibility to run when I can as work or family commitments can make it hard to run only at set times. I know though for a lot people the community and comraderie from a running club is what makes the sport so enjoyable. I do enjoy the times when I get to run with my brother or a friend so can definitely see the appeal of both group running or running alone.
To run a marathon though I think does certainly take an element of selfishness in order to meet the commitment required. I know my personality type using Jung typology is very much more aligned to been an extrovert in certain settings such as work or with friends, but my preferred default personality is to be slightly introverted, not in a shy way, but more that I am comfortable with my own company.
For me, I think my personality certainly plays a part in why I run and the enjoyment that I get from not just racing but also the training and even the analysis of all the associated data such as mileage, heart rates, pace, etc.
Do you prefer to run by yourself or in a group? Do you think your personality attracts you to running?