I’m a Running Researcher: John Hockey

This post is part of the I’m a Running Researcher series. See all profiles in this series here.

Who are you?

I am a Senior Research Fellow in Sociology, University of Gloucestershire

What is your background?

I am a sociological ethnographer and have published extensive research on sport and occupations.

How long have you been researching running?

I started as a mature undergraduate student in the 1970s examining club marathon running. I then picked up running again as a research topic in the early 2000s and have been continuing to do so

How did you get into researching running?

As a life long committed distance runner it struck me that this was a research topic which could benefit from a sociological analysis , which when I started was underdeveloped. So why not examine my hobby sociologically and benefit from it as an academic!

What running research have you done?

A major two year collaborative study of distance runners mundane practices. This project started out focused upon recovery from running injuries. It then evolved into a wider study of the routine and every day practices of running.

To date, we have explored various research topics within this: facing and recovering from injury, plus how running identity is maintained and disrupted. We have also investigated how the sensory dimensions of running are not just physiological but also social, looking at how runners, see, hear, feel and touch ground.  We have also explored the running relationship to places and spaces, as well as common place routines and rituals.  Further to this, we have focused on how runners interact when running together and how habitual training is fitted in around full time demanding employment

How do you research running?

The above project with another researcher (and runner) used autoethnography – where we research ourselves and own practices. It was a collaborative project in which we each individually  kept fieldnotes on our mundane practices, and then jointly  compiled a third analytic account of those practices.

What is the most significant, important, surprising, interesting, unusual, or favourite finding emerging from your research?

The depth and complexity of craft knowledge which is built up over decades of distant running. Features which remain hidden to the outsider. Everyone can run but it is how one runs which is the analytic issue.

Do you run?

As a veteran runner I presently train 6 days a week. Previously when younger I trained 7 days a week and often twice a day when seriously competitive. Why? It helps me feel ‘alive’.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more about me and my work on my profile at the Department of Sociology, University of Gloucestershire or ResearchGate.


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