You Run So Many Races - What About Balance?

How Susan Donnelly balances life and training to finishing 100 100-mile and two 200-mile ultramarathons

It’s been a busy few months!


  • Running Bigfoot 200 in Washington


  • Running Superior Sawtooth 100 in Minnesota

  • Working a week in Minnesota on good stuff for my clients (you!)


  • Speaking at the Be Golden conference in Indiana

  • Running Moab 240 in Utah

  • Running Wild Duluth 100k in Minnesota

  • Running Javelina 100 in Arizona

  • Spending a week with my parents in Arizona

Around all these events, the time each took, and the driving and flying it took to get to them all (the 200-mile races took 1-2 weeks each), I spent as much time on the other parts of my life as I could. Couple time. Cooking. Cleaning. Unpacking. Repacking. Running. Working out. Working full days and on off weekends at my day job.

“So what about balance?” you ask.

I used to cringe when the topic came up. There are so many opinions about how to do it and what it should look like, that it’s easy to feel like

“I’m doing it wrong,” or

“I’m not trying hard enough.”

So how on earth do you add a big, time-consuming goal to it all?

“Maybe next year, when things are more stable,” you think.

You can really get stuck here - feeling like you’re supposed to have this serenely balanced life, you’re failing miserably at it, and adding a big event would be impossible.

If you’re there, here’s a helpful truth:

You can’t have conventional life balance and do big things, so let go of the idea your life should be balanced a certain way.

Why? Ask yourself where the idea came from in the first place. Did you create your own idea of life balance or accept society’s conventional description?

We’re typically told our lives should be balanced so that all our plates are spinning perfectly at all times, and we keep it that way.  

That’s the problem - keeping it that way. Even if you manage to reach the rare moment of perfection, forcing your life to stay that way leaves no room to try big, new and challenging things.

Here’s how I do balance in a life of big things:

  1. Go for fulfillment instead. What are we trying to get out of being balanced? A fulfilling life. Balance is just how we’re supposed to get there. Why not go straight for the end goal instead?

  2. Measure it in mouse and eagle views. I’m willing to temporarily emphasize one part of my life in the limited, short term “mouse” view if it creates more fulfillment in the big picture, long-term “eagle” view. I planned back in June for these busy months knowing they’d be followed by a few months off to rest and focus on other things.

  3. Let it flow. Life isn’t static every day, so how could your life balance be? Balance isn’t a still pond - it’s a moving river. Let each part of your life ebb and flow together.

That’s it.

It’s not about dividing your life into neat categories, carefully budgeting a proportion of weekly time to each, then beating yourself up when it doesn’t happen.

It’s about living the life that's most satisfying to you, in the mouse moment and in the eagle view end of your days. Letting the parts of your life ebb and flow together in their own way.

If you want to feel like that, I’d love to help. 

I’m offering a convenient new service called Power Day - a single, all-day, one-on-one session with just the two of us working on whatever you want, like designing your own life balance, and planning the year ahead to include the mix of big things and regular life that will feel most fulfilling to you. 

Check it out here and pick your day! 

Be you own fulfilling kind of balanced,