Training Levels and Perceived Benefits of Running among Runners Committed to Both Running and Family versus Runners Committed Exclusively to Running

By Goff, Stephen J.; Fick, Daniel S. | Journal of Sport Behavior, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Training Levels and Perceived Benefits of Running among Runners Committed to Both Running and Family versus Runners Committed Exclusively to Running


Goff, Stephen J., Fick, Daniel S., Journal of Sport Behavior


According to Joan Samuelson (1995), "Life is truly a balancing act. In one hand, you hold your running, and in the other, you hold your job, family and other tasks and challenges that you face on a daily basis. For all the things that are important in your life, you have to find that balance" (p.5). Samuelson acknowledges that in the past she focused exclusively on running. Now the greatest challenge in her life is not competition, but combining family and running. She claims that running and family go hand in hand, and this balance helps her get the most out of both roles.

Whether runners are able or willing to balance the demands of different life roles is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether runners can successfully attain a balance between running and family life. Training levels and perceived benefits of running among runners committed to both running and family life were compared to those of runners committed exclusively to running. The key question was whether runners can have a high commitment to both running and family without foregoing training or the perceived benefits of running.

Runners may be reluctant to forego running in favor of the demands of other roles. Glasser (1976) and Carmack and Martens (1979) argued that positively addicted runners dislike missing runs because they will miss the pleasurable feeling that running provides. Conboy (1994) found runners experience withdrawal symptoms on days runs are missed. These withdrawal symptoms were greatest among the group of runners for whom work, family obligations, or other scheduling difficulties intruded upon training.

Some highly committed runners make running their first priority and schedule other activities, particularly family activities, around running. Sachs (1981) argued that when running becomes a habit, compulsion, or addiction, other aspects of life, including time spent with family members, begin to be shaped around the daily run. Barrell, Chamberlain, Evans, Holt, and Mackcan (1989) concluded that training can consume time that is customarily considered family time. Clearly, some runners are inclined to forego family activities in order to run. Perhaps highly committed runners fear increased family commitment will lead to reduction in training and ultimately the satisfaction obtained from running.

Many runners are at the stage in life when the demands of work and family make ongoing commitment to running more difficult. Under these circumstances, involvement in running takes one of the following forms depending on the runner's level of commitment to running in relation to their level of commitment to family life. Some highly committed runners opt to forego family commitments. Though they have a family, running is their predominant source of identify and satisfaction - their primary commitment. As Sachs (1991) described this group of runners, other aspects of life including time spent with family members is scheduled to accommodate the daily run. Conversely, Conboy (1984) identified a group of runners who concede a high commitment to running is not possible due to their work or family, and while participation in running might continue, there is a decline in running participation. A third group, though not identified by previous research, might attain the balance Samuelson (1995) describes when flexibility enables a high level of commitment to both running and family. This group would enjoy the benefits of running, adjusting their schedule when needed to accommodate their family. Previous research has identified runners who are essentially addicted to running. They will shape family time around running (Sachs, 1981). experience withdrawal symptoms when runs are missed (Conboy, 1994), and allow training time to consume time that is customarily considered to be family time (Bartell et al., 1989). This strongly implies that runners high in running commitment will tend to forego family obligations but not running or its benefits.

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Training Levels and Perceived Benefits of Running among Runners Committed to Both Running and Family versus Runners Committed Exclusively to Running
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