What does your running route say about you?
What does your running route say about you?
In Stride

Your Running Rorschach Test

Have you ever wondered what your favorite routes say about you?

What does your running route say about you?
Lauren Steele

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We all have those routes that we turn to the most: our favorites, the prized ones. But have you ever wondered what your favorite routes say about you?

The science isn’t exactly hard, but how you run really does relate to your personality, says Carrie Cheadle, a consultant certified by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and the author of On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance.

With guidance from Cheadle and Joan Steidinger, a licensed clinical and sports psychologist, we take you through the (somewhat) scientific world of running Rorschach tests.

Loop Runners Are Opportunists and Gluttons

They’re the buffet lovers of the running world, always sampling and never settling on just one flavor. “Loop runners want to see the most variety during miles, and to enjoy that they’ll never pass the same thing twice,” says Steidinger.

Your Race? Prepare to be visually stuffed. The San Francisco Marathon on July 27 gives you the all the visual sustenance you could ever want—the Golden Gate Bridge, trollies, and the San Francisco Bay. So start working on your appetite and your hill repeats now.

Out-and-Back Runners Are Control Freaks

They take a simple formula—run this direction for 30 minutes, stop, turn around, and run back—and turn it into a training prescription. “Runners who seek out-and-back routes like having that control,” says Cheadle. “These runners enjoy efficiency and like knowing what to expect from their workout.” Out-and-backs give concrete evidence of negative splits and mileage with the ease of a 180-degree about-face.

Your Race? The name says it all.  The Out & Back Party Run in Philadelphia on April 25 starts and ends four iles later at the Smith House Mansion in the historic (and fancy) East Fairmount Park district of the city. For those who want to do it West Coast style, there is the Warf to Wharf six-miler in Santa Cruz, California.

Point-to-Point Runners Are Goal Setters and Purists

A person who just takes off with a single destination in mind has to be determined to get there: look what happened to poor Pheidippides, the first marathoner (he died). You go without a choice of stopping; it’s all or nothing. “Runners who finish one-way runs have a sense of personal victory at the end,” says Steidinger. Those who just take off on their own personal marathon have this desire to be able to finish the run and say, ‘I just ran from (insert common starting place here) to (some location ridiculously far away). I’m a boss’.”

Your Race? The Athens Classic Marathon is the epitome of going big—it’s the mother of the marathon, retracing Pheidippides steps all the way from Marathon to the Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens. If you don’t have enough frequent flyer miles racked up, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, is always an option.

Track Runners Are Dominant and Sociable

A Drake University study used the Thurstone temperament schedule, a test that measures seven different areas of personality, to investigate track personalities. Both sprinters and distance runners alike were found to show higher levels of dominant, sociable, and impulsive traits. Trackies have a desire to assume leadership roles, can make decisions as fast as the third turn, and like having others around. It makes sense; you can’t really run away from anyone when you are running in circles.

Your Race? There are tons of track meets out there that allow unaffiliated athletes to show up and show their stuff. The Princeton Elite Meet in Princeton, New Jersey, holds one full day of events solely for unattached and club athletes during the May 2 weekend meet. Bonus points for sporting your own jersey.

Trail Runners Are Escapists

Most of us get off-road to get away from it all. The rocks, mud, flowers, streams, dust, squirrels, deer, coyotes, buttes, and hills create an experience that’s about much more than just a run. “Sensation seeking athletes have a connection with their choice between trail and road running that reflects personality,” says Cheadle. That must be why all the granola commercials star a harmonious trail and a tranquil runner.

Your race? Actually, lets call it a “trail celebration,” as does Adam Chase, President of the All American Trail Running Association.  The Spokane River Run in Spokane, Washington on April 27 offers five race distances; from 5K to 50K, all winding through the Riverside State Park.

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