You probably know already if you’re an introvert — someone who gains energy from solo time — versus an extrovert — someone who gains energy from being around other people. But did you ever think about how knowing that could make you a better, happier runner? We often assume there’s one specific ‘right’ way to train, but our personalities play an important role in how receptive we may be to certain training plans.
Maybe you started running with a group of friends, but you secretly dread those group runs. Maybe your training plan relies on heart rate data, but you often feel de-motivated by numbers. This might be because the way you think you should be running is actually counter to your Myers-Briggs personality type. The test has been around for years, and it’s one of the most popular personality tests. In a nutshell, it focuses on four traits and leaves you with a series of letters, which, grouped together, offer insight into your personality. Can that help you run smarter? I think so.
A MYERS-BRIGGS PRIMER
Like any personality ‘test,’ take your answers with a grain of salt — and remember most people fall somewhere on the spectrum between each set of personality traits.
What it means: Are you someone who prefers being surrounded by people and who seeks out social events and takes energy from social interactions? In that case, you’re more extroverted. If the idea of curling up alone with a good book fills you with joy after a long week at work, while the idea of a loud concert makes you feel stressed, you might be more of an introvert.
Extroversion: You’re the kind of person who joins run clubs, has accountability buddies and rarely runs alone. It can be hard to find a running community, but for you, it’s worth the extra effort. Use the MapMyRun app to see who else runs your favorite routes, check with local running stores to find out about group runs or just put it out on social media that you need a running buddy.
Introversion: Solo trail runs are your bread and butter. You might find running with a group exhausting, while running alone actually makes you feel more energetic afterward. You shouldn’t ditch your running crew entirely, but you might want to focus more on those solo runs, and save the running-with-friends for days where you have other chunks of solo time carved out for yourself.
What it means: When you’re given a piece of information, do you focus primarily on that information and crunch the data, or do you try to add meaning to it by pulling in outside information or past experiences? That’s the difference between sensing, using the basic information or intuition, interpreting that data in a different way.
Sensing: You’d prefer to stick to the facts; only the facts. For you, adding in a recording of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) might be helpful. An app like HRV4Training uses objective data on the timing between heart beats plus subjective data — in a series of sliding scales around sleep, fatigue, soreness and mood — to give suggestions on whether you should go hard in your planned workout or if you should take it easy.
Intuition: As someone who interprets and adds meaning to data, you might do better with recording more feeling-based commentary after your workout, thinking through why a certain run felt the way it did. Use the comments section in MapMyRun to note your feelings, and give runs fun titles based on how they go.
What it means: Are you a thinker, a more logic-based person who lives and dies by pros and cons lists? Or do you feel more and toss logic out the window when you have a certain vibe about someone or some situation?
Thinking: If you’re more data-driven, a plan that uses heart rate data for workouts is going to be better for you. Additionally, you may love tech like smartwatches or even smart running shoes that can provide more analysis and information from your running.
Feeling: Have a hard time recording workouts? You might find sticking to a training plan that relies on heart rate data and strict workouts is difficult. Find a plan or a coach that focuses on perceived exertion — how you feel — versus heart rate data, and that allows you to tailor a plan to how you’re feeling on any given day. (You can still record your runs without watching the screen!)
STRUCTURING YOUR WORLD
What it means: Do you prefer being told what to do and having a clear-cut path (judging), or do you prefer to stay open to new ideas, options and information (perceiving)?
Judging: You prefer training that’s spelled out bit by bit, from how long your warmup is to which route you’re taking today (you probably have a few you use regularly). Out and backs are your preference since you can always gauge how much longer your run is. If you head into new areas, you use an app like MapMyRun to scout popular routes and gauge distances, so you’re never really going out without a predetermined set of parameters.
Perceiving: If you lean on the perceiving side of the spectrum, you’re going to be much more open to new training concepts and technology as it comes out — and to hit new trails and try new routes. You might do better in a new trail system by simply putting your phone away after pressing record on your run and enjoying the flow of new trails: You’re much less likely to stress about an extra mile of distance because you got turned around accidentally.
TRAINING ACCORDING TO YOUR MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE
Let’s get specific here: Once you know the four-letter combination that makes up your Myers-Briggs type, check out these suggestions to make you the happiest, strongest runner possible.
You thrive on order and agendas, but as an extrovert, you also love running with other people. Take advantage by joining a running club (or online challenge group) that has an event they’re training for and a specific plan.
You love having a training plan to follow, as long as it has mostly solo runs in areas you’re familiar with. Routine is what makes you feel like you’re living your best running life, not exotic locales or ‘fun’ workouts. The most consistent way to get a run in is to do it first thing in the morning.
You’re often considered the most social of all the personality types, so take advantage of that and join a few different running groups to get what you need for your training: a track group that does weekly workouts, a trail-running crew, and don’t forget online challenge groups on MapMyRun for inspiration when there aren’t group runs that day!
As a nurturing type, you probably love nothing more than taking a new runner out on the trails for the first time to give them a great experience of how to enjoy running. Make sure you’re taking time for your own training, though — if you’re training for something serious, consider running with a newbie for your warmup or cooldown, then getting in your actual workout solo, so you get the best of both worlds.
As an extremely in-tune extrovert, you love to give back. So train for a charity run or lead fundraising group runs with new runners. Just don’t neglect your own training in the process, and make sure you’re paying attention to how you feel during a workout, not how everyone around you is doing.
You tend to be a more off-the-beaten path type who loves solo runs and the chance to process your feelings while you’re running. Just make sure you have your run recorded — so you can look back to gauge your training objectively, and because the judging side of your personality can sometimes outweigh the intuitive and really want to know just how far away from home you are and the fastest route back.
As an ultra-intuitive runner, you can be a great leader in your running club, discovering new routes, helping guide beginner runners and making sure everyone is having a good time, not just running their hardest.
Even though you may come across as a bit shy or reserved, you’re always looking at the bright side. You’re motivated by the act of running and not necessarily the prestige of getting a PR or winning a race. However, you definitely know your answer to the question: Why do I run?
Go ahead and try running without your heart rate monitor and maybe let someone else lead your next run with the crew. Do your best to stick to your training plan based on your perceived exertion levels (not hard data, for once), and try some positive self-talk along the way.
Your solo runs get a lot easier once you accept your data doesn’t always dictate how you feel. Record your run, but be willing to run based on perceived exertion and even be OK with changing a training plan if you’re feeling extra tired or strong each day.
You’re the runner a running group wants leading it on a trail run because you combine your intuition with a lot of logic, you likely have a great sense of direction. While you’re intuitive, you probably still prefer using some kind of training plan to give your workouts direction … But you definitely deviate from it when you feel like it’s not working for you.
You’re extremely logical and practical, so take advantage of training tools like MapMyRun, and consider running with a heart rate monitor and GPS so you can even more accurately track your progress. Of all the running types, you’re arguably the best one to develop your own training plan and stick to it.
You’re all about getting things done (according to a plan, of course), so take charge of your running crew by creating the workouts and making the plans to check out new trail systems and roads less traveled.
If it’s possible to be both ultra-logical and ultra-spontaneous, you’re the person who makes that happen. That might mean a solo run with a specific workout, but once the workout is done, you hit a new trail you’ve never tried for your cooldown.
You’re not just an entertaining run leader, you’re probably a fantastic pace-setter for a marathon, pacer for an ultra-running friend or even guide for a disabled runner thanks to your extremely intuitive and charming nature.
Despite being an introvert, you tend to do well with your core group of running friends and love new experiences. Embrace that and bring your crew with you on a run on new roads or trail systems you discover on MapMyRun (you can always go back and explore them solo later).