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The role of ultrarunning in drug and alcohol addiction recovery: an autobiographic study of athlete journeys


McGannon, KR and L Estrange, M and McMahon, JA, The role of ultrarunning in drug and alcohol addiction recovery: an autobiographic study of athlete journeys, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 46 Article 101585. ISSN 1469-0292 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101585


Purpose: There is contentious understanding of the role of sport in adult recreational drug and alcohol addiction recovery. This study explored athlete autobiographies as cultural sites of analysis in relation to the role that one sport (i.e., ultrarunning) plays in addiction recovery capital pathways.

Design: Working at the intersection of an autobiographical approach grounded in relativist narrative inquiry, asocial constructionist narrative thematic analysis was conducted of two autobiographies–Catra Corbett and Carlie Engle—about addiction recovery through ultrarunning (i.e., distances of 43 km or more). The narratives used to construct life transformation and recovery capital in relation to ultrarunning were centralized in the analysis using Frank’s (2013) work on illness narratives and the body.

Results: Two narrative themes threaded athletes’addiction recovery journeys: chaos narrative and quest narrative. Two sub-themes related to fluid identity transformation intertwined with ultrarunning were identified within these narratives: 1.‘addict-runner’(chaos) and 2.‘addict runner to ultra-runner’(quest). Nuancedmeanings of suffering were connected to identity transformation and running and two forms of addiction recovery capital: human (e.g., psychological adjustment, life perspective) and social (e.g., family connection, community).

Conclusions: The research findings provide insight into the role of sport in psychosocial aspects of addiction recovery using an autobiographical approach grounded in narrative theory. This study also extends work in sport psychology focusing on autobiographies as research and pedagogical resources to learn more about athlete mental health.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:narrative analysis, athlete stories, addiction recovery, capital, distance running
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:McMahon, JA (Associate Professor Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:135030
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2019-09-23
Last Modified:2019-10-11

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