Finding and Maintaining a Running Identity in Later Life: Experiences of Older Female Parkrunners

  • Claire Kerr

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis examines the experiences of older female parkrunners in Scotland. Using a phenomenological approach, the ways in which older women can find and maintain a running identity in later life are explored. Faced with an ageing population, many Western countries have adopted “active ageing” policies which have sought to encourage older adults to improve their health through participation in sport, exercise, and physical activity. This research looks to explore the ways in which older female parkrunners were able to find or maintain a running identity in later life. I consider the history of women’s running to establish if historical attitudes towards the appropriateness of running as an activity for women continued to impact on participation. To examine the impact of historical attitudes on participation and establish changes in participation, I conducted life history interviews. Thirty women, who were all registered parkrunners in Scotland aged 60 years-old and over, were interviewed and asked to share their stories of running in later life. Existing research has focused on the experiences of elite older athletes rather than recreational runners. This research provides an insight into how older female recreational runners negotiate the ageing process in order to continue to run in later life.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorFiona Skillen (Supervisor) & Emmanuelle Tulle (Supervisor)

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