‘I’m much more positive as a person and it’s given me a new lease of life ’
Jimmy Lawlor (47), artist, originally from Wexford, now living in Westport, Co Mayo.
“Up until a few years ago, the most exercise I did was a spot of fishing. To be honest, I didn't feel confident about running and by the time I turned 40 I could hardly run 100 yards without being out of breath.
“Now I regularly compete in triathlons both here in Mayo and around the country. I feel better than I did a decade ago and have benefitted so much from running.
“It was five years ago when I decided to do something about my lifestyle. I wasn't happy with myself and how I felt. I kept hearing people say 'oh when I was younger I could do this and that' and I didn't want to be one of those people.
“I joined a bootcamp run by Paul O'Brien in Westport and bit by bit I started to get the bug.
“Initially I was cagey about exercising, full of doubts about if I could do it. But soon I found myself running nearly every day.
“Four years ago, I entered my first Gaelforce West adventure race, it's a 67-kilometre challenge which involves mountain running, cycling and kayaking.
“I remember that amazing sense of elation and personal achievement when I crossed the finishing line.
“We're blessed in Westport with amazing scenery — there really is no better place. I run around lunchtime and think ‘my God there are some people stuck in traffic jams and here I am breathing in this wonderful country air in stunning surroundings beside the Atlantic Ocean'.
“I've lost about two stone since I started running but perhaps the main benefit is what it does to the head. I sleep like a baby, I'm less stressed and transformed my ability to invent and work.
“Humour is a major ingredient in my art and being positive helps me to come up with fresh ideas.
“At home I think we now have a calmer environment because I'm more relaxed. I'm better able to deal with any issues that crop up.
“My wife Phil has also taken up running and in time I hope this influence will rub off on our two daughters Anna (16) and Heather (14).
“I may have been a latecomer to running but now I couldn't imagine days without it. I'm much more positive as a person because of exercise and it's given me a new lease of life.”
To view Jimmy Lawlor's art, visit www.jimmylawlor.com