In this article, the authors construct a story of one woman’s (Justine’s) experience of learning to run within the context of a beginners group. Building on existing scholarship on narrative, aging, and physical activity, this work is part of a larger ethnographic project examining subjective accounts of the physically active aging body across the life course. Concerned with often simplistically linear problems of representation, the authors present a messy text that represents the complex and fluid nature of Justine’s embodied tale. The aim is to show the intersection of biographical (storied) identity with health behavior choices and to interrogate the process of challenging narrative foreclosure. By using the emerging genre of messy text as a creative analytic practice, the authors avoid prompting a single, closed, convergent reading of Justine’s story. Instead, they provoke interpretation within the reader as witness and expand the ways in which research on aging and physical activity has been represented.
Griffin is with the Dept. of Health, Aging and Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada. Phoenix is with the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, Cornwall, UK. Address author correspondence to Meridith Griffin at Meridith.Griffn@gmail.com