Karen Cosgrove is currently training for her 110th marathon, but she never considered herself an athlete.
“I was always the first one cut from any team I tried out for,” Cosgrove recalls. But that changed after reading an article in a popular women’s magazine 33 years ago about walking and running being a great way to get in shape. “This caught my eye because of my sedentary life while being a graphic design major,” she says. “Mostly though, it’s because I learned how to dream.”
Coming from a family of nine siblings, Cosgrove found running as a way to stand out from the crowd and create her own identity.
Trying out for the Olympics twice but just coming shy of qualifying, Cosgrove was devastated. Then, when her brother got diagnosed with cancer and having a 5 percent chance of survival, Cosgrove asked God to give her brother a second chance and if he did she vowed to make a difference with her life.
Today, her brother is alive and well and Cosgrove has followed through with her promise. Cosgrove worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society training people to run their first marathon. Then, in 2008, she founded Miles That Matter, a foundation with a mission to educate and promote health and fitness with an emphasis on enriching every life they touch.
Here’s how it works:
1. TRAIN SMART
Become a member of Miles That Matter. Sign up for one of their training programs, participate in an event or purchase something from their e-store.
2. MAKE A DIFFERENCE
A portion of your purchase will go to the Miles That Matter Foundation.
3. MAKE IT MATTER
The Miles That Matter Foundation donates 100% back to its charity partners.
In 18 years of coaching, Cosgrove has guided more than 9,000 people across the finish line and raised more than $10 million for local non-profit organizations.
Cosgrove says she wants people to “listen to your body and don’t ask people their race time. That’s not what’s important. It’s about making people strong.”
As for coaching, she says the goal is teaching people that “more is not better and balance is everything. Fitness should be a life-long activity and done right, it will be.”
Cosgrove believes that money does not make people happy, but instead happiness comes from helping other people. She is grateful now that not qualifying for the Olympics led her to help so many women get healthy through Miles That Matter and now her newest concept: Blessed Not Stressed. “This is a way to take care of yourself and others and about girlfriends coming together to motivate, inspire, and push each other,” she explains. “The first annual Blessed Not Stressed girls night out was on November 21 with 52 women in attendance and $1,500 raised for the Share the Feast, an organization that feeds the hungry.”
In addition, there will be a “Blessed Not Stressed” running and walking team forming in January for the Flying Pig Marathon. Cosgrove’s mentality regarding Miles That Matter, and life in general, is that “Life is not about one-upmanship,” she explains. “It is about supporting each other –teamwork.”