Following Directions: Retirement isn’t so bad.

Isn’t it funny sometimes how bad news can invigorate you, make you re-evaluate how you do things, why you do things and give you new meaning and direction?

I’ve changed direction.

I’ve retired from Ironman racing.

Hey it’s no big deal, when one door closes, others open and as long as you can walk through them how is that a bad thing?

The final results from my recent medical tests weren’t the positive outcome that I had hoped for, but I guess they were what I had expected. Extensive damage to the patella tendon and bone spurs on the actual patella and tibia. That would explain the pain when I’ve been running. It is an injury that stems from childhood, one that I’ve been dealing with each time that I run, only recently my gait changed to try and balance the pain and I made the situation worse. In the future I hope to be running again, actually sod the hope, I KNOW I will be running again. It won’t however be a marathon as that would just be too much destruction on an already unstable joint. So that kind of rules out an Ironman. I had come to terms with this scenario over the past few months, at first I was down but then I looked on the positive side of things – I’ve done what I wanted, I’ve had fun and by evolving as a Triathlete I’ll still be able to do what I love whilst spending much needed time with my family. Part of me still clung to the hope that I’d be able to race long and I’d negotiated with Emma that if the Dr gave me good news I’d be coming home to enter Ironman Lanzarote for 2014…but it wasn’t to be.

So where do i go from here?

I change, I rebuild, I learn and I keep moving forward.

No matter what happens I will not attempt to run again until I’ve lost 2 stones in weight as this will ease the pressure on my knee, that is common sense really. I start work with a great Physio called James this Friday. I met him last week for an assessment and he is also a triathlete, so understands my concerns and ambition. His thoughts were that given the weakness in my knee he’ll be looking at my feet and hips also and teaching me how to stand, how to walk and then down the line how to run. It will be boring, there will be exercises but he’ll get me where I want to be.

His other advice was “Blitz the swimming” – so that is what I intend to do.

Training wise I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in ages, there is no pressure, no programme to follow, no huge race looming. I’m loving it. Being up and out on the bike for a few hours at 5am now seems like the normal thing to do. 70 miles on the bike on Sunday was a breeze. Jumping in the lake andΒ  swimming around in circles has never been so enjoyable. I’m being strict with my diet as I want to run again, but it’s not a chore its all part of the map that will lead me back to Triathlon.

I’m following the directions, they just lead down a different path.

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19 responses to “Following Directions: Retirement isn’t so bad.

  1. Good Luck with the recovery and re-training of the legs, if you have no need for your calves I could do with a spare set for a few weeks…

  2. Thats the spirit Andy-adaptation!! You will find other things to enjoy to train for they will become obvious to you as time goes on.
    You could help me with my bike hill training!! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Janey – I would help you but I have to stay clear of hills at the moment as it puts to much pressure on the knee. Having to work at high cadence flat terrain hence spending most of my cycling time out towards the Fylde.
      Once I’m allowed back on the hills I’d be delighted to help you out πŸ™‚

  3. Good luck with your new direction Andy, with your positive attitude I’m sure that you will excel in whatever event to pursue next. Your books motivated me to start triathlon training and your on- going positivity is an inspiration!
    Best of luck with it all.
    Renny

  4. Sheila Rice (IW)

    Welcome to the world of the IM retirees, Andy! You know I was forcibly retired by my hip replacement, but I’m managing to still have fun racing Olympic and sprint distances. You will too.

  5. Godd decisions Andy and in no time you will be back running..
    If you need some company on the fylde give me a shout and will join for a spin,
    Gary

    • Always welcome to join me on the rides Gary, not around for the next 4 weekends though due to other commitments ( holiday, world championships, Outlaw – spectating ).

  6. niamhlewis2013

    Wow, as if you are retiring! Makes sense though with injury, and you’ve achieved some amazing goals. I’m currently reading your second book and its really making me want to do an ironman!! In a few years maybe. πŸ™‚
    P.s. Hope to see you at swimming more, mastering the sport πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks Niamh – glad you are enjoying the second book, you’ve got years yet in which to get your Ironman done, don’t rush, hone your talent, get quicker at shorter and then move up as you are making great improvements. Will be swimming at Heysham tonight, as for mastering it…..hmmm πŸ˜‰

  7. Steve Andrews

    God luck Andy. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog the past few years.
    Steve from Boise, Idaho

  8. Andy, all the best for this. I had a similar issue back in the mid ’00s with a ruptured ACL and degenerative patella cartilage. A few trips into hospital were followed by many months of the type of physio therapy you describe above.

    Yes, it was dull and tedious and relearning to run the “correct” way was at times maddening. That said, given your obvious tenacity, resilience and determination you will get there.

    Hopefully we will get to read about it here too!

    All the best

  9. As they say, when one door closes….. Sorry to hear the IM days are over, but i have no doubt you’ll suceed at whatever challenges you choose to do next. I look forward to hearing about your progress, and good luck with the physio πŸ™‚ xx

  10. Nice one Holgs. I could do with a dose of your determination fella.

  11. I’ve just finished your second book , great read and now discussing which will be my first iron man, sorry to hear about your injury but I think I have also found your buzz for open water. I just finished an article in the outside magazine titled “the worlds most extreme outdoor swimming camp “for people about to attempt to swim the channel. http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/water-activities/swimming/Give-Us-Your-Tired-Your-Sore-Your-Shriveled-Masses.html?page=all

    this is made for you the plus is you get to smear your body in goose fat !

    Go forth and paddle.

  12. Never give up, Andy. You and your books are true inspiration, and sometimes taking one step back is taking two steps forward. Take it slow and one day…

    Just finished your 2nd book. Congratz, mate, with the book & the results. I enjoyed reading every page of it.

    http://kayatee.tumblr.com/post/55267070901/cant-sleep-cant-train-cant-stop-andy-holgates

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