Meet Nike’s Favorite Triathlete: An 86-Year Old Nun

by Danny Cullen

Recent star of Nike’s Unlimited Youth campaign, Madonna Buder gained millions of new fans as an 86-year-old nun and triathlete. Casual about her routines, and vast accomplishments, she has a lot of wisdom on how to integrate fitness into everyday life, and on living in the moment. 

Buder has run over 375 triathlons (of which 45 are Ironmans). At 47 she started running at her convent (oh yeah, she’s a nun, by the way), and hasn’t looked back.

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In an interview with Women’s Health Magazine, she revealed how she started running, secrets to her routine and what the future holds for her.

Beginning with explaining why she runs, Buder said, “I didn’t take up running until I was 47. A priest I met in Oregon suggested I take up running to strengthen my body and mind. Four years later, I got into triathlons, for the variety.”

For all of us who are wondering how a middle aged woman could just take up triathlons, Buder referred to her training as functional. She said that she will run to church in the morning, or bike to a nearby prison where she reads to inmates. The nun claims to move up to seven miles a day, just going to appointments and running errands. 

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Buder’s last competition was at the Triathlon World Championships in Cozumel, this past September. When asked about her next one, she said she’s taking it one day at a time. She then quoted her grandmother saying, “The past is dead and gone, never to return. The future is not the future when it gets here. So all you’re responsible for is the present moment, and the future will take care of itself.”

The type of mindfulness and perseverance shown by Buder drives the stories of our new series Conquered, where we chronicle individuals overcoming life’s greatest obstacles to accomplish their goals. 

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