Fine, I Admit It.... I am an Evangelist... AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!!

No proselytizing in the classroom.

If there is one rule for religious studies professors, this is it. But you know what? I have tenure now, and that means....

So I'm just going to confess that, for over a decade now, every classroom has been my mission field. My only problem is that my evangelizing skills kinda stink. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago when I scored my first conversion. But it was a glorious victory for the cause.

Indeed, this wayward soul used to be a weightlifter. But now he's a runner.

That's right, I am an unapologetic running evangelist. I will lure in non-runners with promises of running's ability to improve health, wellness, and happiness. I will direct them to simple and effective training plans for new runners, such as the Couch-to-5k program. And I will invite them into a running community, where they will be love bombed by people wearing compression socks and curiously short shorts.

If they take the bait, the final step is to sign them up for a race--or as I like to call it, the distance runner's revival. There is nothing quite like having a collection of sweaty bodies in a concentrated place, transforming roads meant for cars into paths for running. Once they cross the finish line, they join in a celebration of accomplishment, a joyful recognition of having done something special. It is their baptism, their immersive entry into this community and way of life.

I recently reflected on my lifetime of running evangelism in a conversation with another one of my converts, Doug Thompson. A while back, he contacted me about getting into shape so that he could continue hiking. A few weeks later, Doug us up to 3+ miles AND he has signed up for his first race.

I am genuinely inspired by Doug. He made the decision to take ownership of his fitness and to develop a healthy habit. It seems that I am not alone. Doug has kept himself accountable by posting his runs to social media. As a result, some of his friends are now asking about how they can catch the running bug.

So Professor Thompson is busy spreading the good word. My work is done here.

Happy trails, friends.


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