Women on the Move: Examining Women’s Motivations for Marathon Running

Leeja Carter, Adler School of Professional Psychology, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Program ID: SYM-20

Presentation: October 4, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Elmwood


Women are engaging in more intense, challenging physical activities that test their physical and mental limits while confronting current gender-role stereotypes and reinforcing feminist values (Leedy, 2009). One such activity is marathon running. Marathon running has turned from an Olympic competition to a social movement (Burfoot, 2007) where the prototypic marathon runner is an everyday person running for a variety of social, health, competition, and generally personal reasons. From the mother of three excited to test her limits to the 30-year-old running for her bucket list, the marathon has become an event that unites women from diverse backgrounds connected by their passion for running and desire to complete the marathon. The current presentation will provide findings from a two-part IRB-approved study exploring women’s motivation, preparation, and training for the Chicago marathon. Fourteen female first-time marathon runners registered to run in the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, IL completed semi-structured, face to face interviews before their Chicago marathon experiences concerning their perceived race challenges, motivation for running a marathon and the Chicago marathon, experiences with running, and race preparation strategies. Upon completion of the Chicago marathon, participants completed a second interview encompassing their perceptions of their first marathon experience, positive and negative memories from the race, and future running and marathoning goals. Several themes emerged concerning women’s race concerns, race goals, motivations, and race strategies before the marathon as well as positive and negative experiences during the marathon that are applicable to applied sport psychology practice.

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