Running for Their Lives: A Qualitative Analysis of the Exercise Experience of Female Recreational Runners

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 North East Wales Institute of Higher Education
  • | 2 King Alfred’s College
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This study explores the relationship between self-cognitions and running behavior in a group of female recreational runners. Consistent with theories of self-esteem and exerciser self-schemata, it aims to identify how running can impact on the self, and how self-cognitions can influence motivation and adherence to running. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 women of varying age, ability, and running experience who had entered a major women’s 10K race. Inductive data analysis revealed that there was a bi-directional relationship between running involvement and self-cognitions. Running provided experiences which led to enhanced self-esteem, notably through perceived improvements to the physical self, but also through increases in mastery/achievement and physical competence. These changes contributed to the value of running for the women, strengthened their exercise self-schema, and increased the likelihood of adherence to running. However, family responsibilities constrained the women in their ability to run, impacting on the exercise-self relationship outlined.

Katherine Bond North East Wales Institute Sport, & Exercise Sciences Plas Coch Mold Road Wrexham United Kingdom LL11 2AW Email: k.bond@newi.ac.uk Phone: 01978 293092 Fax: 01978 290008

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