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Douglas Wood

Douglas Wood, 74, competes in triathlons around the world – his story is inspirational. His new book, Renaissance Triathlete, takes a fascinating look at his sporting career and explores everything from tactics to equipment and mindset to injuries. Full of wonderful anecdotes his stirring tale is totally enthralling

Douglas had always loved running – cross country, hill running and track and in particular, orienteering, which for many years was his main sport. As the years passed by he found his running was getting slower but gained stimulation by doing more cycling and swimming. “I was cycling to work and would often swim at lunchtime.  Finding that I was getting stronger at swimming and improving all the time led me to discover that triathlon (swimming, cycling and running) was what I really enjoyed. When I retired I bought a road bike and a wet suit and started competing in events all over the world. My younger daughter lives in Abu Dhabi and we visit her every winter and I take part in triathlons there and in Dubai. It has opened up a whole new world and I have met some wonderful people at local clubs.”

He had always thought that one day he would write a book but was never quite sure what to write about. Then about a year ago, it came to him to write about the sport he loved. He was very keen to emphasise the enjoyment that comes from participating in any sport, adapting to changing capabilities and the personal satisfaction that is gained from achieving the best possible in the context of your own circumstances. “Before I started writing I spoke to a few people to test out my ideas and they all told me that I should focus the book on being in my seventies and still competing as most books are about younger athletes. I was born in the Baby Boomer generation, just after the war, and it is rather special as my peer group seem to be up for an adventure and trying something different and not much has been written about this age group. So, it was an open field to write about my experiences but the main problem was to find a proper framework so the story hung together. It took about a year with some gaps of course. I had heard that a book should start after the beginning and finish before the end leaving the reader wanting to know what comes next. I took everything into consideration and started by jotting down notes and ideas before I actually started writing. I realised I had to write the book in the form of a journey through triathlon and how the season might unfold but also there had to be my own story of personal discovery and understanding.” 

Douglas also embraced some mental strength training which he found very useful for making things happen and achieving a goal whether in sport or any other context. There is a chapter about it in the book which is fascinating. He said, “I came across it by chance when I needed help with mental rehabilitation following a sports injury. I have been working with Bristol-based Kim Ingleby, who is a brilliant mental strength coach.” 

Nothing deters Douglas and one of the highlights of his week is to go open-water swimming in one of the nearby lochs. He says it isn’t cold but very exhilarating even though he does wear a wetsuit. “If the trek to the other side of the loch is a long way it is even more exciting to swim there instead – I absolutely love it!” apart from swimming Douglas also spends a lot of time exercising for flexibility and core stability. “Exercise is very important and beneficial for movement and maintaining good form when you get tired. Warming up prior to exercise becomes ever more important with age and this mobilises the range of movements you are going to call on. Of course, be sensible and my advice is “Don’t run for a bus without doing a proper warm-up!”

Douglas is brimming over with passion for his sport and his book highlights that you have to enjoy what you are doing for it to work. I honestly think Douglas has enough eagerness and gusto to see him compete for some years to come!

Renaissance Triathlete is available from online bookstores and major retail outlets. See renaissancetriathlete.com for more information.

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