“Running in and out of Motherhood”: Elite Distance Runners’ Experiences of Returning to Competition after Pregnancy

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Karen M. Appleby Idaho State University

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Leslie A. Fisher University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Although a few studies on the experiences of mothering athletes have been conducted that investigate issues such a training patterns of elite and non-elite athletes, quality of life issues, and track and field athletes’ return to competition after pregnancy (see Beilock, Feltz, & Pivarnik, 2001; Balague, Shaw, Vernacchia, & Yambor, 1995: Pederson, 2001), none of these capture this experience from a critical feminist perspective. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use a critical feminist framework to qualitatively explore the athletic experiences of elite distance runners who returned to competition after having children. The results of this study indicated that elite female distance runners who returned to a high level of competition after pregnancy experienced a transformative process as they negotiated their new roles as mothers and integrated this new lifestyle with both the social discourse surrounding motherhood and their own objectives to continue running at an elite level. Implications and theoretical connections between this research and future research are also provided.

Karen M. Appleby, Ph.D. Idaho State University Sport Science and Physical Education Campus Stop 8105 Pocatello, ID 83209-8105 E-mail: applkare@isu.edu Phone:

(208) 282-5613
(208) 282-4654

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