IT took a global pandemic to finally slow Douglas Wood down. And even then only a little. At an age when many of his friends and former colleagues have long since settled for the quiet life, the Edinburgh-born athlete remains as energetic, committed and competitive as ever.

He considers 2019 to have been his best season, a year in which he celebrated his 73rd birthday. He marked it by taking part in 10 triathlons and two aquathlons, the latter a triathlon without the cycling element.

To the obvious question “why?” comes an even simpler reply: why not? A Baby Boomer born in 1946, Wood has been blessed with good health, the time in retirement to devote himself to his craft and an insatiable desire to continue to push the boundaries of his limitations, always looking for even minor improvements.

Now based in Stirling, the former Scottish orienteering champion has jotted down his thoughts and experiences in a new book entitled Renaissance Triathlete – Enjoying Sport as an Older Athlete Managing Mind and Body.

“I never thought I’d be running at 70,” he writes in the paperback that has a foreword from double Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee. “But I never believed that I couldn’t”.

He is too circumspect to boast that he will still be competing in his 80s. But if body and mind are still willing, you would not bet against it.

“Running has always been the thing that I’ve done and I still enjoy it and activities related to that,” he explains.

“With running you naturally get slower with age but I found my swimming was actually getting better. And when you’re older that’s really stimulating to find something that you’re improving on.

“I’ve become more proficient as a cyclist as well which means my triathlon performances have been fairly consistent over the past 10 years.

“You never know what lies ahead. But I’m keen to keep doing it for as long as I can. As long as I’m still enjoying it, I’ll keep going.”

There is a neat paradox that it was only through retirement that Wood was able to properly get to work.

An enthusiastic runner throughout his life, the removal of his daily 9 to 5 commitment in 2007 presented him with the opportunity to delve deeper into his passion.

He enlisted the support of a physiotherapist, a podiatrist and a performance coach, scrutinised every aspect of the triathlon process including the two transition phases, and looked to find ways of delivering better results.

That devotion has allowed him to compete in more than 100 events since retirement in 17 countries across four continents, including appearances at world and European championships.

It is a hypothetical question to ask whether he could have been an elite contender if he had been armed with this knowledge as a younger man but it is no doubt helping him as a 74 year-old.

“It’s been a fascinating journey over the last decade or so,” he admits. “Being retired, having all of this to focus on is what gets me up in the morning.

“I’ve picked up so many useful tips in recent years that would have been helpful when I was in my 30s and 40s.

“Back then you only saw a physiotherapist when you needed treatment. Now I really benefit from seeing my physio even when things are fine just to make sure everything is functioning as it ought to.

“If I knew back then what I know now my performances would probably have been a lot better. But I was busy at that time with a full-time career and only doing it in my spare time. Now I have the time to do it all properly.”

Vaccine permitting, Wood, who also works as a coach, will get back on his travels and racing again in 2021. That is not to say, though, that he has used the virus as an excuse to put his feet up. On the morning that we speak, for example, he is preparing for a swim in Loch Venachar.

“I’m still ticking over. I’m running three times a week, getting my weekly swim and out on the bike. But it’s the competitions that I miss. That’s what brings out the best for me. And I’m eager to get back to that next year.”

Renaissance Triathlete – Enjoying Sport as an Older Athlete Managing Mind and Body by Douglas Wood, published by Hullo Creative, priced £10