On the run: perspectives on long distance running.
This source preferred by Richard Shipway
Authors: Shipway, R.
The aim of this study was to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of long distance runners. An etlmographic research design was adopted to understand the nature of the social world of long distance runners through interviews and observations which were thematically analysed. The sample comprised twenty five international informants. The key theme emerging from the data was the strength of identification that participants had with the activity of long distance running. This theme was linked to the search for a running identity amongst participants, exploring how meaning was created through engagement with the long distance running social world. In doing so, the study also explored the enduring benefits of the activity and the high levels of effort, perseverance and commitment displayed.
A number of other themes emerged that were seen as consequences of this sense of identification.
These included the central role of training and preparing to run, and how this contributed towards participants sense of running identity. This theme included feelings of pain and suffering, confronting problems of injury, and the role of time and space within the participants training regimes. The extraordinary and authentic experiences at long distance running events was a dominant theme incorporating the conflicting emotions of failure and glory, and the importance of travel within the long distance running social world. Feelings of escape and an exploration of the role long distance running fulfilled as a 'third place" outside of the home and work environment were explored, incorporating ideas linked to social relations within the distance running social world. Similarly, the desire to embrace a healthy lifestyle was a central concept, exploring themes linked to seeking self esteem through participation, negative aspects associated with exercise addiction, and the role of the 'running body'. This study provided a series of linked themes exploring the culture of long distance running, and in doing so developed a deeper. understanding of the participants running experiences, contributing towards the body of knowledge on the unique social world of the long distance runner