2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture
avatar for Kerry McGannon

Kerry McGannon

Laurentian University, Canada
Re-appropriating Pain and Suffering: Autobiographies of Addiction Recovery through Ultrarunning
The mental health and career costs for professional athletes suffering from addiction to alcohol and other drugs are well-documented (Brownrigg et al., 2018;Jones, 2013). Few studies have explored the role of sport in addiction recovery, with research focusing on how sport environments promote drug/alcohol (mis)use and addiction (Palmer, 2018). In this presentation, the cultural construction of ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ of alcohol/drug addiction and the re-appropriation of ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ athletically as addiction recovery capital are explored. Drawing on Frank’s (1991, 1995) work on illness narratives and phenomenological orientation of corporeal ‘ideal body’ characters, results of an autobiographical analysis are presented. Two illness narratives– chaos and quest--identified within autobiographies of former addicts’ use of ultrarunning in the recovery journey (i.e., Catra Corbett’s--Reborn on the Run; Charlie Engle’s – Running Man) are centralized. Within a ‘chaos narrative’ addiction and recovery through ultrarunning were characterized by unpredictability and drowning in corporeal suffering and pain, to (re)discipline an ‘ill body’. Within a ‘quest narrative’ pain and suffering were re-appropriated to construct a ‘communicative body’ intertwined with ethics of recollection, solidarity and inspiration. Conclusions centre on autobiographies as forms of personal and public disclosures to open space for both ‘chaos’ and ‘redemption’ expression.