Triathlon Ireland Hosts Inaugural Women's Health & Wellbeing Conference

WIS Health & Wellbeing-Athlete Panel_1

Experts in women’s health in the sporting arena gathered on Saturday, 19th October for the inaugural Triathlon Ireland Women's Health & Wellbeing Conference. 

Held in Dublin’s Clayton Liffey Valley Hotel, the sold-out conference welcomed over eighty delegates for an informative, educational and fun day of speakers and workshops.

Triathlon Ireland President Lochlann Walsh highlighted the importance of the event;

“We are now three years into our “Equally Inspiring” strategy and have made great progress in bringing more women into leadership positions in triathlon. Today’s event concentrates on very specific women’s health issues in sport and the great turnout demonstrates the appetite for events like this. We’re also thrilled to be able to donate the income from ticket sales to the #Tri4Pieta campaign.”


Coach Jonathan Gibson from The Athlete Clinic was the day’s first keynote speaker and gave a gripping lecture on “The Female Triad: Training with Your Menstrual Cycle and Menopause”, outlining important areas women should consider when planning their training. 

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Jonathan Gibson

Jonathan highlighted the importance of fuelling your training, and the differences between men and women when it comes to training;

“Fuel for your training and eat to recover and make sure that they eat enough protein throughout the day. For an average woman that’s 25 grammes of protein in every meal and you’re looking at that spread over four meals a day. It’s a lot of protein to get in but it’s very important that they get it in for building muscle.”

Putting It Into Practice

Three workshops were run throughout the day to provide participants with an opportunity to learn some new practical skills and ask experts advice on their training.

Nutritionist Fiona O’Donnell from WestCorkFit taught the attendees how to eat correctly to fuel different types of training sessions and how to eat to balance hormonal health.

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Aileen Flynn Workshop

Triathlete and Chartered Physiotherapist Aileen Flynn gave an insightful and practical workshop on injury prevention and running shoe choice. The group also had the chance to learn correct foam rolling technique and postural exercises.

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Lorraine Boyce Workshop

The third workshop was run by Lorraine Boyce from Down Below Physio, giving participants practical exercises to promote pelvic floor health and improve core strength.

Inspiring Stories

The funny, honest, engaging and inspiring conversation of the athlete panel was a highlight of the day, with each having overcome adversity both as part of and to participate in sport. 

Led by MC Joanne Murphy of TriTalkingSport the panelists cyclist Eve McCrystal, Nutritionist Fiona O’Donnell, West Cork Tri Club’s Bernadette Downey and current Middle Distance National Champion Hilary Hughes chatted about balancing life and sport, overcoming adversity and achieving goals.

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Athlete Panel_2

Clonakilty based Bernadette Downey, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, spoke eloquently about the role of gratitude in overcoming adversity;

“A big thing that I would encourage people to look at is gratitude and the role of gratitude within our lives. I was grateful I was alive, I was grateful I was diagnosed. I was grateful I could be there for my children and watch them grow up. So, I would take what they would give me and be grateful that I had a fighting chance at fighting cancer and I really have approached it like that.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Dr. Hilary Hughes, having been diagnosed with a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage at the age of 20.

“It makes you realise you’re not invincible, it really makes you appreciate when you are good and healthy what you can do, like you were saying. And it teaches you a lot. Similarly it made me go from being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to lying in bed for a week not even able to lift my head and from there it was a year long recovery.”


Balancing the Day to Day 

After lunch, psychologist Niamh Fitzpatrick brought the group through a number of simple strategies aimed at managing day-to-day mental well-being and highlighted how success in terms of reaching wellness goals is directly related to your thinking and thought processes.

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Conference

Women’s Participation Lead for Triathlon Ireland Anna Grealish summarises the day;

“The Women’s Health & Wellbeing Conference could not have happened without the fantastic speakers and workshops we had. We had a great mix of thought provoking and specialist speakers and practical workshops which I think allowed everyone to learn something new and I hope everyone enjoyed. Our panel of athletes were four of the most inspirational women I have heard speak and for me, this was one of the day's highlights. The conference brought together women and men who wanted to learn more about health and wellbeing for sport and I hope this is something that will grow every year. Special thanks to Sport Ireland and the 20x20 campaign for their support with this conference”.

WIS Health & Wellbeing_Coffee Break