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Sister Madonna Buder, Nike’s “Iron Nun” (ep. 79)

Sister Madonna Buder

“Don’t think of your age.”

When asked how to actively age, 87-year-old Sister Madonna Buder – nicknamed “The Iron Nun” in her 2016 Nike Ad – shared the above.

She continued with, “Just keep moving.” Sr. Buder began running at 48. She has since completed 45+ ironman races, 300+ triathlons and won her age group dozens of times.

My friends, if you think you’re too old, too late, too inexperienced, too anything, to embrace a new dream in your life… then you absolutely cannot miss today’s episode. 

Sr. Madonna Buder, the Iron Nun, will encourage you to go ALL IN for your dreams, no matter your age or perceived limitation. Join us!

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  • Everyone was expecting her to announce her engagement; instead, she announced that she was entering the convent.
  • Began running at 48 and became a world-class athlete, competing in more than 300+ triathlons.
  • “Running harmonizes mind, body and soul.” These words, shared by a priest, inspired Sr. Buder to start running.
  • “You have to run for 5 weeks before you get the runner’s high.”
  • “The only way to not put my body through this [painful training] again is to keep going. From now on, my body is ready.”
  • She was in a Nike commercial; they call her “The Iron Nun.”
  • She ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon. At 24 miles in, her race ended as they deterred runners after the bombing.
  • When you are met with opposition, it’s something training you for the future to be strong.
  • How do you view time? 
    1. The only thing that doesn’t change at all anymore is constant change. Every day you wake up to a new day. Don’t carry baggage from the past.
    2. What I love to do that really helps me is to watch children in the park. They run more than they walk! I just think in my mind, I’m that kid running!
  • The Grace to Race, is Sr. Madonna Buder’s book.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? The Bible, even though I’ve never read the whole thing!

2. Tomorrow you discover your wealthy uncle shockingly dies at the age of 103; leaving you millions. What would you do with it? I’d have to employ someone to decide which worthy causes to give it to.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? My birth certificate.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? I’d go straight to the source, God Himself! The older I get the more questions I have, not answers.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? From my grandfather, “If there is anything worth doing it is worth doing well.”

6. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at age 20? Always consult with your maker.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? In gratitude for all you have made, including me.


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I can’t wait to see you here next Thursday! Today is your day. Live Inspired.

Live Inspired with John every day on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedInPinterest, Instagram and get his Monday Motivation email: www.JohnOLearyInspires.com/Monday-Morning

2 replies on “Sister Madonna Buder, Nike’s “Iron Nun” (ep. 79)”

John, there is more to her amazing story. She helped me as a young teen. She not only does triathlons, she had a role in shaping young woman in the 70’s

Wow! Sister Bader is an incredible role model. She is spunky and driven. I would love to hear her expand on many of the things she spoke about in this podcast and am inspired to learn more about her. I love that when her mom told her she couldn’t run 8.2 miles without any training, her reply was how do I know unless I try. Perfect response. John O’Leary never disappoints with his podcasts.

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