Examining the diversity of ultra-running motivations and experiences: A reversal theory perspective

Article


Watkins, L., Wilson, M. and Buscombe, R. 2022. Examining the diversity of ultra-running motivations and experiences: A reversal theory perspective. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 63 (Art. 102271). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102271
AuthorsWatkins, L., Wilson, M. and Buscombe, R.
Abstract

Objectives:
This study aims to add to literature on the phenomenology of ultra-running, an extreme form of long distance running. Through application of reversal theory, the study seeks to extend knowledge of the motivations and experiences of ultra-runners as well as approaches to understanding ultra-endurance sport more generally.

Design:
Post-positivist, qualitative, phenomenological.

Method
10 recreational ultra-runners participated in semi-structured interviews in which they were introduced to the eight metamotivational states of reversal theory and asked to discuss their running motivations and experiences.

Results:
A thematic networks analysis revealed a propensity for participants to experience a diverse range of reversal theory states when running, embodying Apter’s (2007) concept of psychodiversity. Participants revealed an orientation to both states in each pair of the four metamotivational domains of reversal theory; serious/playful, conformity/rebellious, mastery/sympathy, and self/other. Participant accounts of experiencing playful (paratelic) and other-orientated (alloic-sympathy) metamotivational states were particularly important to ultra-running phenomenology and its differentiation from mainstream sport.

Conclusion:
Reversal theory has proven to provide an effective framework for exploring and theorising ultra-running phenomenologies. The psychodiversity documented by participants suggests that ultra-running and other ultra-endurance sports necessitate a diverse and dynamic metamotivational orientation. Application of this thesis to other ultra-endurance activities is encouraged.

JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Journal citation63 (Art. 102271)
ISSN1469-0292
Year2022
PublisherElsevier
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102271
Publication dates
Online09 Aug 2022
Print22 Aug 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted04 Aug 2022
Deposited30 May 2023
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