The Introvert Workout

Late summer trailYesterday we had a break from the oppressive heat and humidity that is Memphis in August. I jumped out of bed, excited to hit the trail. It’s the same trail I walk often, but I knew it would be different. The trees would have changed from the last time I hiked it; a denser canopy, a few possibly just starting to turn for fall. Storms had fell a few and made new clearings. A new season of wild flowers had bloomed. It was like meeting up with an old friend after months apart to see how they had changed.

I ran into a few other people along the trail but we were content to exchange nothing more than a smile, a nod, or a quick “morning.” (Possibly more introverts.) I was mostly alone, allowed to be lost in my thoughts; fleshing out characters and scenes in my next novel or overthinking all kinds of mom stuff.

It was easy to walk 3 1/2 miles. It passed quickly and I could have easily gone longer if I had the time. On a crisp fall day I can walk 5 or 6 miles and be surprised when I reach the end. I burn calories and accomplish the “goal” of a workout but I do it in a way that clears my mind, sparks my creativity and feeds my soul.

My husband goes to the gym almost every morning. He not only gets in a workout but he also gets a social rush out of it. He keeps me updated on stuff happening in our community that he knows about from gym gossip. As an extrovert his morning workout fuels both his body and his social mind. I tried that route but I have to admit that I cringed a little every time I entered the building. The small talk between classes or over equipment was a struggle when my brain was busy working on processing my day ahead. If the weather even hinted at being nice I felt drawn to stay outside. I suggested we move class to the parking lot more than once. Everyone thought I was joking.

In American culture working out is a huge part of socializing and yet another place that an introvert can feel out of step, literally in my case. What is a grapevine step and why does everyone else in class seem to know but me? I want to be healthy in both mind and body and I’ve discovered the only way I can achieve both is by hiking. And ironically, my solo sport led me to a social group. Through Meetup I joined a hiking group that regularly hikes a trail that it is particularly easy to get lost on, which works for me in so many ways. I’m not left meandering alone on the confusing trails and I’ve met more quiet people who understand the pull of time in nature. It meets my need for a connection with the exact people it can be hard to connect with (because we all enjoy being alone).

So what is your introvert workout? Introvert or extrovert have you found a way that charges your physical and mental batteries? Share in comments and if hiking is your thing too check out my Pintrest board All Who Wander Are Not Lost.

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