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Tough Girl - Sister Madonna Buder

One of my favorite Tough Girls is Sister Madonna Buder or the ‘Iron Nun’ as she’s also known. She’s one hell of an inspirational lady and a role model for women and girls around the world. Her accomplishments and achievements are incredible.....

This is not the story of someone who took up fitness and training when she was young and found out she was a natural. Sister Madonna came into triathlons when she was in her fifties and over the past thirty years she has completed over three hundred and twenty five and is the current record holder for the oldest person to finish an Ironman Triathlon.

The Ironman Triathlon is widely considered to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. It involves a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride followed by a marathon, a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break!

Sister Madonna is still entering and finishing races and at the same time creating new categories and records for her age group. She continues to push past her own limits and the limits of what other people think are possible.

Sister Madonna was forty eight years old when her priest encouraged her to go for a run on the beach, she had never been running before and after one beach experience she made a simple promise to herself, she was no longer going to settle, she didn’t want to be fat and unfit, she made the decision enough was enough and she was going to change.

She didn’t set out with the goal to be a world record holder in the triathlon! When she started she set herself a small goal which was to go twenty five percent further each day. At the beginning, she struggled to get to the end of her street, but she continued, she persevered, she did it every day, even when she was out of breath, and in pain. She continued to go twenty five percent further each day and every day going forward. Not only did her health and vitality improve, but she became stronger, fitter and faster and was able to go further and further each time she went out.

She completed in her first triathlon aged fifty two and did her first Ironman Triathlon aged fifty five and hasn’t stopped since. She doesn’t have a set training schedule and doesn’t have a coach she just does what she feels like, whether that’s running, swimming or biking.

Sister Madonna inspires me as she’s suspended her limiting beliefs about what she can and can’t do. She’s also proved that age is just a number and should not be used to decide whether or not someone can do something. Too many people are making decisions over what they can and can’t do based purely on age.

If Sister Madonna can start training when she’s forty eight years young and continue to enter races when she’s in her eighties, you can start going after your goals and following your dreams whatever your age.

Sister Madonna released her autobiography, The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun – this is available on Amazon.

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