Susan Donnelly
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Hey there! I'm Susan,

A Certified Life Coach, runner of 100-mile races, and practical idealist devoted to helping you change whatever status quo isn't working for you so you can be who you are truly meant to be in your one, extraordinary life. 

 
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I love running. I love it enough to have run over 100 100-mile races. More than most anyone else in the world. And I’ve figured some things out along the way.  Enough to have won races outright, and finished three of the aforementioned 100-mile races more than any other woman and almost any man, and a bunch of other things. 

 

A friend helpfully described me as “zen but tough as nails.”

So people often ask “why’d you get into this? Why not be a regular running coach?

When I was little, I knew for absolute certain that I had a purpose in life and that I was here to make the world a better place. I didn’t know what this purpose looked like but if I did nothing else in my life, I had to find it.

That meant following my curiosity, excitement, intuition, ideas, and dreams toward all likely possibilities. Which usually meant I quietly did my own "weird" non-girly, tomboy thing. Which meant I quickly met people and situations that told me "you can't." 

Here are a few favorites:

  • My high school running coach told me I shouldn't try out for the college team because I wasn't good enough.
  • The adult women in my extended family all followed the traditional route - got married, had kids, and didn't work outside the home.
  • My mechanical engineering college class was far less than 10% female when I signed up and I was told the best I could do was be a “home engineer.”

Each time, I believed other people knew better than I did. I believed that I had to follow along or that I was the small, inconsequential, failure they said I was. I believed the coach and even though I loved running, I stopped just as I was setting out to find my way in the world and sorely needed that confidence and grounding. I got engaged to a wonderful guy even though that conventional life script felt like prison. I believed I'd fail as an engineer, and started struggling in school even though I knew I was smart. 

I tried to do the expected until things came to an irrevocable, life-or-slow death decision point.  In which case, I leapt for life and the unknown and found it wasn't that bad.

  • After a few years off of increasing misery, I ran a mile, then some 5ks, 10ks, marathons, ultras, then finally a 100 miler, and have built an extraordinary running career that keeps getting better.
  • I gave back the ring with no idea where I was headed, and have created an independent life I love and own my own business.
  • I eked out my engineering degree, stumbled upon niches that were perfect for me, and received multiple promotions in a traditionally male career field most of my adult life.

Slowly, I learned that I was still responsible for what I believed.  I got good at flowing around rocks like this in my stream entirely, but despaired I'd ever find my purpose. I accumulated tons of amazing experience and stories from ultrarunning but wasn’t making the world a better place.  And most troublesome, I kept watching women, some of whom were dear to me, hold themselves back to a painful fraction of what they were capable of.

Out of nowhere, I hit a rock bottom (long term relationship breaking up as four of my five cats and dogs died of natural causes in quick succession). I tried everything imaginable to get out of that pit of despair until out of all remotely normal options, I signed up for a few sessions with a local life coach. When we finished, I had a sparkly new direction and enough momentum to breathe.

Somehow, I stumbled upon and consumed Martha Beck’s books, then noticed she taught life coaching. Nope, too crazy, woo-woo an idea for smart, practical people like me. But when the exact sum I needed to do it magically appeared a few days before the deadline, I took it as a flaming neon sign and leapt big.

To say life coaching changed my life is an amusing understatement. It helped me create a life I love, gave me that long-sought purpose, created a way to use all that ultrarunning wisdom for good, and gave the tools i needed to help lift other women up.  All in one.

 

I'm proof that 

You may not think you're extraordinary, but you are.

You can be true to yourself in a world that wants you to be something else, something less, than the glorious You you are.

That when you have the courage to stand up, speak up, and take action for yourself, life becomes what you have desired.

The one thing you are meant be in life is...fully and completely You.

 

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Which is where you come in.  

I'm here to make a difference, whether that's in your life or your running mindset and I'm grateful for the ability to help.

I'm not perfect, which makes for good stories, but I'm grateful for it because I get to keep learning new ideas, solutions and tools. I share what works through my coaching, and in new programs, blog posts, and social media. 

The best way to hear about the new stuff - before anyone else - is by signing up here:  

I appreciate being allowed in your Inbox and promise not abuse the privilege by filling it up (yuck).

Thanks for visiting this page and connecting.  I'm looking forward to adventuring alongside you.

Be you,

Susan

running Creds

If you're curious, here's a sample of the running stats I'm most proud of:

  • Completed 100 100-mile races, more than almost anyone in the world. All are official 100-mile races, not multi-hour events.
  • Won Double Top 100 twice overall - first finisher - each time the only women and the oldest competitor (yeah!).
  • Completed the Bigfoot 200-mile race
  • First place female: 
    • Superior Trail first woman 4 times
    • Zumbro first woman 4 times
    • Georgia Jewel 100 1 times
    • Lovit 100 1 time
  • Finished
    • Superior Trail 100 17 times - second-highest number of finishes at that race, more than any other female.
    • Massanutten 100 16 times - fourth-highest number of finishes at that race, more than any other female
    • Javelina 100 10 times
  • Completed 26 different 100-mile courses in the US and overseas.
  • Run more 100-mile races than any other distance (5k, 10k, marathon or ultra).
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