Turning 50

and training for triathlons

These days most women like to stay in shape with regular exercise classes, long walks in the park and regular trips to the gym. There is nothing at all wrong with this; as far as it goes.


The issue is that for anyone with real ambition to build a lasting sense of wellbeing and extend their healthy lives, this probably doesn’t go far enough.


Often women spend their twenties and thirties juggling children, jobs and homes. It is a miracle when they fit in a social life so staying fit is low on their list of priorities. Even if they were serious about fitness in their younger years they often have to slow down just to keep everything on track. Worse than that, we can become very inactive and that can lead to all the illnesses attached to physical inertia.


Yet, passing 50 does mean the children are leaving the house and women are on the lookout for a new ‘serious hobby’ which may well be the right kind of exercise to increase wellbeing and life expectancy.


I am one of the co-founders of Tri50. We specialise in coaching women and men over the age of 50. Our coaches are over 50 and competing actively in triathlons.


It always surprises me that women sometimes limit their expectations when they think about fitness. Often they assume that taking part in a triathlon is somehow beyond them; something only other people with a long history of serious training can undertake. Yet it is possible to start this kind of endeavour when you are older, it is just a question of taking it one step at a time. Literally.


A triathlon is three disciplines. Swimming, cycling and running. Often those who train are good at two and weaker at one. All this requires is the right tuition and correctly balanced training programme.


But even someone with no interest in sport can take part. One of the women I have coached over the past year asked if she could leave her hairbrush at transition when she entered her first aquathlon, (a 400m swim followed by a 5km run). Before starting her triathlon journey at the age of 56 she had never even run for the bus, ridden a road bike or learned front crawl.


There are some really remarkable stories of success. Eddie Brocklesby, the founder of Silverfit a charity that encourages wellbeing and fitness for over 45s, took up running at the age of 52 when her husband died. She started running in Nottingham but now lives by the River and her training takes her along the Thames Path.


Not everyone wants to take things that far. Not everyone wants to put that level of time and commitment in but most people, and particularly women who are worried about bone density issues, can benefit from increased activity.


I completed Ironman Copenhagen last year and it was tough; even my brain hurt but my sense of achievement was unsurpassed by any other event in which I have taken part.


Your Ironman could be an open water swim, a 5k Parkrun or a cycle ride in Richmond Park; your sense of fulfilment will be no less.

©RiverTribe Magazine 2017