FOR Jenny Lawrie, retirement didn’t mean a chance to take things easier – instead, it was an opportunity to increase her triathlon training schedule.

The former headteacher from Shirley, Southampton, had always enjoyed running, and took up triathlon at the age of 59, having been inspired by the Brownlee brothers’ performances at the London Olympics.

“My job was very full on, so since I’ve retired, I’ve had much more time to train,” says the 64-year-old, who adds that she now feels fitter than ever, and recently took on a half Ironman competition.

Jenny says that she isn’t very competitive but takes part because she wants to enjoy the races – and that means she needs to be fit.

“You need to be prepared and fit so that does take quite a lot of time,” she says.

In the run up to the last competition I did a lot of training, especially for the last five or six weeks before the race. So that meant, for instance, swimming 2,000 metres then biking for three hours one day, running for two hour the next and so on.

“I generally train for around five to ten hours a week. I take my foot off the gas a bit after an event.”

Jenny says that now, since retiring, she is taking part in more competitions, which means she has to be more careful about getting injured, both because she is training more heavily and because she doesn’t want to have to pull out of competitions due to injury.

“I used to have more of a cavalier attitude before – I have to be more sensible now,” she says.

“I’m very careful now about warming up and cooling down properly and also have sports massages. I do more, but I’m more sensible about it.

“Now I feel very fit and I want to keep it that way,” adds the mother of three and grandmother of six.

“I’d like to keep going like this forever. There’s no point in thinking in terms of stopping.

“I used to feel stiff after running and I don’t get that now. I like that, the feeling that I can do all the exercise that I want to do. I push myself and it might not always be all that much fun at the time, but I reap the rewards later.

“I definitely feel fitter now than I did in my 30s and 40s,” she adds.

“Being a teacher and having a family was very time consuming. I worked ridiculous hours as a head teacher so I feel very fortunate to have the time and fitness to be able to do this now.”

Jenny, who is a member of Southampton Triathlon Club, says that she has never felt that her age was any sort of barrier to her taking up and competing in triathlons.

“I think because there are three disciplines in triathlon, swimming, running and cycling, it helps keep the atmosphere really pleasant, because no one is best at everything and everyone is working towards their own goals, whether that’s their swimming time or their running,” she says.

“I accept that younger athletes might be faster than me, but that’s not always the case, because if you train more, that can counteract the effect of ageing.

“Age is just part of who you are, along with things like your height, enthusiasm, time available to train, and so on.”

One of Jenny’s recent races was the The Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Vichy, France, which saw her swim 1.2 miles, cycle 55.9 miles and run 13.1 miles in the 35 degree French summer heat.

She used the event to help raise funds for Parkinsons UK, a charity close to her heart as her brother, David, 66, suffers from Parkinsons disease.

“He has had it since he was 44,” says Jenny.

“It’s a horrible, degenerative disease. His life is much more challenging than mine. He has to cope with some really irritating issues to do with balance but he’s so cheerful and optimistic. He never behaves as if he is sorry for himself. It doesn’t seem fair.

“I am full of admiration for David’s good cheer and positive attitude to life; his philosophy has been to carry on regardless, but the nature of this horrible degenerative condition is that despite his amazing determination (stubbornness, some might say) and optimism, it relentlessly encroaches upon what he can and cannot do.”

So far, Jenny has managed to raise £1,970 out of the desired £3,519.51. The target figure comes from it being David’s birthday - 3rd of May 1951 - as a monetary value.

Her next event will be another half Ironman in Mallorca in May.

She likes the idea of doing a full Ironman, but isn’t sure that she will.

“I’d love to have done one, but I don’t know if I want to devote the time to it that would be necessary – six hour training rides and so on,” she says.

“The jury’s out on that one.

“My family are very supportive of what I do. My older daughter describes me as ‘a mentalist’ and some people say I must be bonkers, but for most people it’s just what I do - it’s one of my hobbies.”

* To help Jenny hit her fundraising target, visit