I’ve thought quite a bit (often on long, solo runs) about why I prefer running alone to running with others and I’ve basically identified three reasons:
First, as difficult as it might be for some to believe who only know my public self, I am an introvert. Defined by Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength, “Introverts are people who get their energy from being alone…. They need time alone to recharge their brains. Once recharged, they can go out in the world and connect beautifully with people.” I am that guy! Just about every morning after I get back from my morning run, I greet my family happily and enthusiastically. On non-running days, this is most certainly not the case. The energy I acquire from my morning outings typically lasts me most, if not all, of the day.
Second, running solo allows me to tap more directly into my senses. Certainly, this can happen with a group, as well, but in my experience I find it easier to be mindful of the sensory experience of running when I am by myself. In the spring, this is particularly true as I love the daily combination of hearing the chirping and singing of the birds, blending with the visual stimulation of the budding trees, and combined with the smell of thawing soil. There is a richness to the sensory experience I gain while running that, for whatever reason, is less obvious in other times in my life.
Finally, running alone gives me license to be self-absorbed. When I am running on my own I don’t need to expend energy worrying about anyone else nor do I need to concern myself with others’ problems. On a long, solo run, it’s just me and my hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies, and wants and desires. I am, in those moments of solitude, beholden to nobody but myself. While that may sound selfish to some, I believe that having that hour a day that is only mine allows me to share with others more successfully during the remaining 23.
I urge anyone who tends to eschew running alone to lean into solo running. While there will always be a time and place for the group run, going it alone can be profoundly enlightening, energizing, and illuminating. Done consistently, I believe this daily independent ritual will not only make us individually stronger, but can also provide the tools to make us a more closely bound community, as well.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What do you think about running solo?
- How is running different when you are alone versus with someone else when running?