My Manifesto on Aging

Susan Donnelly

By the time this is posted, I will have aged up a year.

It’s odd to find this number is now my age. I don’t feel connected to it.

This number takes me beyond the early 50s, where the “old” is newly empowering into unknown territory - toward 60.

There are moments where it feels like I’m on a rollercoaster that I want to get off but can’t.

But since it’s happening whether I want it to or not, I’ve decided I’m not going into it powerless like that. I’m taking charge.


  1. I refuse to automatically blame everything on age. Aging only gets to be an excuse when I’ve ruled out everything else.

  2. I refuse to follow conventional assumptions - even conventional runner assumptions - about how aging will be. I’m charting new territory because we’re all unique and there’s never been a woman who’s accomplished what I have, doing this at this age. I get to design how my aging will be.

  3. I refuse to join the “getting older sucks” club. 

  4. I refuse to follow “rules,” like what I should do or wear. My life, my aging process, my rules!

  5. I refuse to disappear. There are so many women like me, men too, who are running or even starting their ultra careers at 50 and 60. We may be back of the pack, and we may not show up in product advertisements, sponsored teams, or magazine photos, but we’re there, we’re a force, and I’m going to do my best to be a visible example of what’s possible.

  6. I refuse owing anyone a plan for what I’ll do when I can no longer run, just because of my age. That can happen to any of us, at any moment.

  7. I refuse to float by on past glories. I’m not done. I still have life to live and plenty I intend doing before I leave the planet. 

  8. I refuse to, as they say in the South, “go to the house.” Hang up my trail shoes and make myself as comfortable as possible while I wait on the end.

  9. I refuse to spend my life afraid of aging. Aging intimidates me, for sure. I love life and reflect most mornings on how amazing it is to be alive as this human I am. But I’m not going to let fear of leaving it steal the joy of living it. 

  10. Last, I see aging as graduating to a new challenge level. I’ve gotten pretty good at running 100-milers and am getting the hang of 200s, so how so up the ante now? By adding the aging “degree of difficulty” to it all.

That’s what I’ve decided so far. More to come, I’m sure, but however it goes from here, going intentionally is a lot more powerful than getting pulled in unwillingly. 

So please join me in facing what athletes typically dread, with power.

I’m in it for the long run and you can be too.

Susan Donnelly’s signature