» Go to news main

MSc Kinesiology grad and ultramarathon runner building career to give back to sports community

Posted by Dal Health Communications on October 10, 2023 in News, Health and Human Performance, Students
Kelsey Hogan running in the 2022 Grand Raid.
Kelsey Hogan running in the 2022 Grand Raid.

Congratulations to the Dal Health Class of 2023! To celebrate Fall Convocation, we chatted with students from across Dal Health. Kelsey Hogan is graduating with a Master of Science in Kinesiology.  

Convation Q&A: Kelsey Hogan

  • Pronouns: she/her
  • Degree: Master of Science in Kinesiology
  • Where you’re from: Steady Brook, Newfoundland

How significant is it for you to receive this degree?

It feels very significant to be graduating with an MSc Kinesiology from Dalhousie. This degree represents a major milestone in my career and learning journey, and opens the door to exciting possibilities for what comes next. Coming back to school after several years of working in the nonprofit sector was a big decision and I feel proud, grateful, and hopeful about where I am today. Woohooo!

What were the highlights of your degree?

So many highlights! In particular, the people I’ve been able to work with have been amazing, and the most memorable moments were the ones I shared with others. I feel honoured and fortunate to have been supported by friends, family, faculty members, and colleagues throughout my degree.

I’m grateful for the kindness and guidance from my supervisor, Dr. Lori Dithurbide, who has been a cheerleader and mentor over the past two years. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with the team at the Canadian Sport Institute Atlantic and community sport coaches through a Mitacs Fellowship research project. I was inspired by my Dal cross country teammates and learned so much from our coach, Rich Lehman. I’ve shared many great moments with my lab partner, Ben, who has been on this journey with me the whole time (we did it!). I’m honoured to have learned from the participants in my thesis research who shared their stories with me about their first ultramarathon experiences. Finally, I’m grateful for my family, who offered their patience, insights, and unwavering belief in me from the very beginning!

What will you miss about your time at Dal?

I will miss being immersed in a culture of exploration and learning. I loved being able to explore my passions and interests during my time at Dal, and enjoyed the variety of activities that were part of my days as a graduate student. Being involved in a mix of campus and community activities was exciting, and I loved the interdisciplinary nature of my faculty that allowed me to learn about many different research areas.

What was your journey to Dal and to this program?

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of New Brunswick in Interdisciplinary Leadership and Psychology, then worked for several years in the nonprofit sector in environmental communications and youth leadership development. During those years, I discovered trail and ultrarunning and fell in love with a sport where many people believed the mental aspects of performance far outweighed the physical. My own experiences running distances of 50km to 200miles, and the conversations I had with people in the ultrarunning community along the way, inspired my interest in researching the psychological aspects of endurance athletes.

I was thrilled to find a program and supervisor that supported me to pursue my passions and research the experiences of first-time ultramarathon athletes. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of Dal’s School of Health and Human Performance, the perfect place to nurture my development as a sport psychology researcher.

What topics/research/work did you become passionate about during your education?

Immersing myself in the growing body of sport psychology literature related to ultrarunning was exciting, and I was surprised at how much I loved reading each new study. As an ultramarathon athlete, it’s exciting to see new research developments mirroring the growth of the sport, and I think we’re still just scratching the surface.

Focusing on first-time athletes in my own thesis work was exciting to me since there are so many individuals discovering the sport, but most of the existing research has focused on elite and experienced participants. I loved hearing about what individuals learned from the sport that they applied in other aspects of their life, and was particularly interested to hear from women who have typically been underrepresented in the literature. Addressing gender gaps in the research and understanding the experience of other diverse populations is something I’ve become more passionate about and would like to see advanced in future research. I hope to see positive changes in the sport, informed by evidence, to support athletes of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to thrive and reach their potential.

What’s next for you?

I’m working towards certification as a Mental Performance Consultant (MPC) while also pursuing goals as a professional endurance athlete.

In my work as an MPC, I’m excited to help people unlock their potential and achieve their goals in sport as well as other aspects of their lives. It feels like a dream come true to be building a career that combines my passions and allows me to give back to the sport community that has taught me so much.

As an ultramarathon athlete, I’m always learning and growing. I have big goals that include competing in some of the world’s most challenging mountain ultramarathons, while supporting the development of the sport locally. Next year, I’m focusing on the Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB) 100-mile World Series Finals, and I hope to compete as part of Team Canada for the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in 2024. I’m pushing my own physical and mental limits, learning that we are capable of so much more than we can ever imagine, and finding joy in the challenging moments that teach me more about how to be a better athlete and person.