How I Became a Happily Obsessed Runner

By Megan Cox

I am so pumped this week.

And no, it’s not the copious cups of coffee I’ve been drinking to survive my days. This week, the first book in my Teen Mobster Series is being released, and it feels like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this moment.

The book was actually completed before my first half marathon in 2007, but by my full marathon in 2008, I still hadn’t summoned the guts to put the novel out there for rejection. I was enjoying my job as a government public relations pro, and my getting published had really been put on the back burner.

It wasn’t until I landed in Oklahoma City—a result of my husband’s job transfer—that I sat myself down and said, “Megan, it’s time to make your writing dreams come true.”

Two years later, I’ve got a book coming out, the rest of the series under contract, a creative writing workshop gig, and this awesome blogging opportunity where I get to tell all of you how I manage to fit training for a half-marathon into a busy working-mom schedule.

All this and I still have time to participate in tea parties with my toddler and enjoy giggle-time with the six-month-old baby. What a life!

Yes, it’s a busy, busy life, but I certainly can’t complain (or at least, I definitely shouldn’t). And with my first YA novel (that’s publishing talk for “a book for teenagers”) hitting the market, it made me think back to being a teenager—and when I started running in the first place. It seems so, so long ago…

Up until sixth grade, I was not the athletic type. My parents emphasized music and academics, and even though I won the award for every subject in sixth grade (yeah, over-achieving starts early!), the only award I DIDN’T win was the Presidential Fitness award.

And this was embarrassing why? Because this was the only non-exclusive award. Probably three-quarters of the class earned this award, but I was not one of them. Let’s just say I was a bit on the wrong side of plump.

Then, in seventh grade, I began to figure skate. I’m kind of an obsessive person, so when I started doing this sport, I went after it big time. I LOVED it. I loved it so much, I taught myself an axel jump out of a book.

My coach was flabbergasted. I had all my double jumps in less than two years of ice skating. I was a maniac. In 1999, I won the junior collegiate national title.

But as my focus shifted from skating back to academics, I realized that without four hours of training a day, I was setting myself up for a quick trip backwards to chunkyville. I love eating, and I love working out. The problem was, with college classes and two part-time jobs, I didn’t have much time for the working out part.

That’s when I discovered the amazing effects of running. As I tell people to this day, a good run gives you one of the best workouts for the time involved.

I started with 1.5 miles. Then 2 miles. By the time I completed college and was working full-time in video production, I had made it to 4 miles. Then, as a grad student, I finally hit the 6-mile mark. Finally, in 2007, I was back in the workforce and training for a half. That year I did my first 13-mile run.

I could have built up my miles faster than that, but I’m glad I didn’t. I really appreciate each milestone (ha ha). When I ran 26 miles in 2008, it really blew my mind. Now, after two pregnancies, I’m back up to 8 miles, and it’s still an achievement. I will never take my ability to run for granted. I’m too happy to have it.

And so, if I could send one message to my teenage self (besides, “Buy my book!”), it would be not to worry so much and enjoy the moment. But I am pretty thrilled that I took up running. It’s one of the best gifts I ever gave myself.

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

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