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Reviews Renaissance Triathlete book review - Books - Triathlon

Renaissance Triathlete book review

Read all about Scottish age grouper Doug Wood's experience at the pointy end of triathlon racing as an older athlete, including how he got into the sport and his tried and tested tips for staying fit and injury-free when competing with the best in the sport. 220's Kate takes a further look...

Described by two-time Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee in the foreword as “an enjoyable, fascinating and important piece of work”, Renaissance Triathlete gives a first-person account of one athlete’s successful journey into the world of triathlon. Having only discovered triathlon at the age of 44 in 1990, Wood documents his experience entering the sport at an older age, and his journey racing in triathlons around the world against top athletes, eventually becoming a competitive age grouper in the 70-74 age category.

We learn of the logistics, mindset and passion it takes to not only be able to train and race into retirement, but to perform successfully and make the most out of one’s physical abilities. This interesting read celebrates the benefits of maintaining a thirst for knowledge and refusing to set limitations to what you can accomplish. It confronts the question we are all afraid to ask, can I still compete in a sport that I love past the age of 50, 60, or even 70? And spoiler alert, the answer is yes. Exactly how? Well, you’ll have to read the book yourself, but here’s what we gleaned from the pages of Wood’s useful advice and anecdotes.

Despite happening to all of us whether we like it or not, ageing is often a taboo subject. Not for Wood. By adjusting his training and expectations to fit around what he can do, Wood treats ageing in a matter-of-fact manner and emphasises the importance of training smarter, and not necessarily harder. Tactics are shared on functionality and ‘efficiency of movement and technique’. As we age, muscle is lost at a faster rate and so, we learn all about how strength work is a ‘vital component’ of successful triathlon training as an older athlete. Wood shares the warm-up techniques and racing prep that bring him success, including his nifty use of a ‘transition shelter’ and his experimentation with in-race nutrition. Wood explains that ultimately ‘there is no shortcut. It is time well spent that will reduce the risk of being sidelined’, so start taking notes…

Most striking though is Wood’s positive mindset and use of visualisation to strategise his races. Reading this book, you truly appreciate ‘the value of not merely having a well thought through plan, but also sticking to it’. We are taken through some of Wood’s superbly executed races and others that were less than ideal, learning how he finds success from setting himself goals and asking those hard questions. This is a book to really get you in the spirit of racing, from sunny Abu Dhabi to the glittering waters of Lausanne, to the stunning Knockburn Loch in Aberdeenshire, you’ll be left hankering after that inimitable ‘race feeling’.

About the author

Douglas Wood is a former Scottish orienteering champion, having represented Great Britain at the world orienteering championships. He now coaches at his local club in Stirling when he is not taking part in races in warmer climes. Since retiring, Wood has represented Great Britain in European and World Age Group Championships on multiple occasions.

Learn more about Wood at renaissancetriathlete.com

Profile image of Kate Milsom Kate Milsom Freelance sports journalist


Kate Milsom is 220 Triathlon's former staff writer. She's a keen endurance triathlete, marathon runner, and bikepacker and her interests include cycling, nutrition and sports injury. Having previously bikepacked across Europe solo, Kate advocates for adventure and inclusivity within sport.