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Growing older and wiser through running

When I was a little girl, I used to dream of all the
cool things I would do as a grown up.

I would drive a pink convertible VW Rabbit. I would eat
chocolate cake donuts for breakfast every morning and
Cocoa Puffs for dinner every night. I would never go to
bed before midnight and never wake up before noon. I would
wear shorts every day — rain, snow or sun. I would
never dust. In the summer, I would only shower by running
through the sprinklers. I would never run out of Rocky
Road ice cream.

Of course, my 10-year-old self had a different perspective
on life.

I now realize that pink is not a great choice for any car,
and a Rabbit is just not practical with kids. Donuts are
tasty, but the after effects are less than desirable.
Ditto on the Cocoa Puffs. I rarely stay awake past 10 p.m.
and sleeping in past 7 a.m. is an indulgence. I still love
to wear shorts, but realize I look ridiculous with bare
legs in the snow. I have kept my promise not to dust. I
just make my kids do it. There is nothing better than a
warm shower.

We rarely run out of Rocky Road ice cream, though.

Yes, as we mature our priorities shift. Hopefully with
age, we don’t just get older, we get wiser.

Of course I’m writing this on my 37th birthday.

It’s interesting. When I was young, all I wanted to
do was get older. Once I hit 25, all I wanted to do was
stay young. I’ll admit, turning 30 was a rough day.
But something changed once I hit 32. I began to realize
that life has gotten better with age. It’s no
coincidence that it was also the year I began to run.

Turning 32 was a pivotal birthday for me. I had just had
my youngest daughter. I was still carrying around a little
baby weight which normally would have bothered me. But it
slowly dawned on me just how incredibly resilient my body

Forget the number on the scale. I was feeling incredibly
strong. I’d only been running for a month, but the
time I spent outside working my lungs, legs and heart
soothed any misgivings I had over the changes my body was
going through. It wasn’t about looking good anymore.
I was feeling good.

Fast forward five years and I’m feeling better and
happier than ever. I’m stronger. I’m more
confident. I’m more self-assured. I’m more at

That’s not to say I don’t have my days where I
look in the mirror and lament the new lines on my face or
the streaks of gray in my hair. Thank goodness for my hair
stylist Jackie!

But I can honestly say I’m happier with myself at 37
than I ever was at 27 or 17.

My birthday also falls in the same week as my wedding
anniversary. As our family watched old videos and flipped
through photo albums, reminiscing the beginning of our
lives together, I was reminded of how much this body has
been able to do in these last few years.

I gave birth to two beautiful, healthy girls.

I have packed, moved and unloaded hundreds of boxes into
three homes in two states.

I have roamed the streets of Paris.

I played on the Oregon beaches with my oldest daughter.

I ran with my husband to the finish of his first half

I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston with my family.

I hugged my grandpa.

I’ve ridden my bike hundreds of miles with some of
my closest friends who became even closer to me after
hours of gabbing along the way.

And it all started with a run.

One of my favorite podcasters, Steve Runner, always says,
“Life is short, but it should be long enough.”
I love that.

I want to savor the thousands of little moments that make
up my life. I want to make sure I don’t waste the
gift of health I’ve been given. I also don’t
want to waste one moment moaning about my unimportant, and
often imagined, imperfections. One day I may not be able
to run and jump and play like I want to. But that day
isn’t here yet.

I don’t hesitate to tell people how old I am. I
embrace my age. I’m proud of what I’ve been
able to do. I’m proud of how I’ve changed.
I’m proud of the steps I’ve taken to get
healthier and lead an active life so I can enjoy this life
even more. I’m no longer content to sit on the couch and
watch others live. I want to participate in life.

Yes, world, I am 37 years old now and feeling younger than
ever. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness
instructor and marathoner who still gets excited to find
$5 in her birthday card from her grandma.