Between teaching, pursuing a Ph.D. and devoting time to family and friends, Anderson University English Professor Jason Parks still manages to train for marathons and run up to 130 miles a week. “Running gives me a lot of energy,” said Parks. “I know some people might think that running 15 miles a day might be tiring, but I always feel more relaxed and focused when I've had a good run.” Each week, Parks usually runs 10-12 miles every morning and shorter runs in the afternoons. Every Sunday, he gets his 20-mile run in and still has time to focus on his priorities.
“My family and teaching are my first priorities,” said Parks. “I try not to look at running as an obligation, but as an opportunity to get out in nature for some quiet reflection.” [Photo on left: Jason Parks competing in the Monumental Marathon in November 2009.]
Parks recently competed in the Chicago Marathon where he had hoped to qualify for the 2012 USA Olympic Trials. “I had a tough day at Chicago this year,” said Parks. “I was hoping to run 2 hours and 19 minutes…but the heat got to me, and I was off my pace. I still ran 2 hours and 38 minutes, but my best marathon time last year was 2 hours and 29 minutes.”
Parks has competed in numerous competitions and has had great success thus far. As an undergrad at AU with Men's Track and Field, he competed in the NCAA Division III National Track Meet and the National Cross Country Meet multiple times. He also earned an All-American honor in cross country his senior year. Parks placed in the top 25 at the New York City Half Marathon with a time of 1 hour and 8 minutes last March. He won the Copper Mountain Half Marathon in Colorado this past summer and has competed in the Detroit Marathon a few times. Parks placed 3rd at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and 17th in the USA Track and Field 10-Mile Championships this past summer.
Many people have encouraged, supported and trained Parks along his running journey. His high school coach Dick Leming had a strong impact on helping him find his passion for running. “Leming taught me a lot about keeping a positive attitude and goal setting,” said Parks. “He taught me how to connect what I was learning and doing in running to my academic, social and spiritual life. After high school, my college coaches here at AU, Larry Maddox and Scott Wilson, helped me realize that I had a lot more potential. My teammates and family have also been a great support along the way.”
Parks enjoyed his time as a student at AU and feels blessed to be a part of the AU faculty.
“Even before I graduated, I already had a dream of coming back to teach here someday,” said Parks. “Growing up, I moved around a lot as a kid, so I never really had a hometown. AU became my home, and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.”
“I've begun to realize just how dedicated my colleagues are to their profession,” said Parks. “Just as I try to reach my athletic potential, I know that my colleagues here at AU are also striving for greatness in the classroom. Even though running is a solitary sport, I always know that my AU family supports me, and that keeps me reaching further.” Although Parks didn’t qualify for the 2012 USA Olympic Trials in Chicago, he will be making at least one more attempt in Chicago next year.
Parks graduatedfrom AU in 2004 with a B.A. in English and went on to earn an M.A. in English from Butler University in 2007. He is currently working on a Ph.D. at Ball State, which he hopes to complete in 2-3 years.
— Laura Overman is a senior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in Communication Arts. Overman is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.