The Books

Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run by Andy Holgate

Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run by Andy Holgate

Who’d have thought when I first started blogging that my thoughts and ramblings would eventually see me being offered a book deal? I mean I’m not exactly the most eloquent of people, my friends laugh at my spelling and I have a distinct distaste for grammar BUT I guess what I do possess is a really good story.

This blog started as a way for me to log my training, my thoughts etc as I prepared for my first Ironman race, it was a way for my family and friends to keep up with what I was doing. Soon enough though I was receiving comments / emails from complete strangers who were telling me I was inspiring ( blushing as I type ) and that spurred me on. I can’t remember who it was that suggested that my story would make a good book, but the seed grew.

In October 2009 I was contacted by the CEO of a publishing company who wanted to know if I was willing to write my story. I somewhat excitedly agreed, expecting to be given 6 months or so. How wrong was I. The reality was that I had to jump through a few hoops first.
Firstly the publisher wanted me to write two chapters to assess my writing style ( thankfully they liked it ) then I had to write a paragraph summary of each chapter giving details of events, incidents etc….not to mention full descriptions of the main characters in the book. Finally I had to write a marketing report, talking about where I could reach out to my core audience, looking at the competition, highlighting the growing worldwide popularity of triathlon and how the book would hopefully appeal to not just triathletes but the normal man on the street. That was a difficult document to write, but the publishers certainly got a feel for my enthusiasm for my sport and green lit the publication.

The only problem being they gave me 5 weeks in which to write the book.

Completing the task was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable. I threw myself into it, most of the writing came naturally but at times I also agonised over certain parts. In the end I was totally honest and laid myself out for the world to see ( a very scary prospect. )

After lots of proof reading and editing ( thanks everyone ) I submitted my finished work and expected to play a waiting game, I still didn’t have an actual contract as they wanted to see if I could deliver the book to a high standard in the time given. I spent an agonising 24 hours worrying about it before I got a phone call congratulating me and offering me a contract.

I was actually going to be an author, an exciting prospect but one that still didn’t seem real.

I was assigned an editor who made suggestions which I then followed and resubmitted. It all went quiet, then the book appeared in various places for pre-order and actually seeing my book on Amazon was very surreal.

I was interviewed for Triathletes World magazine and an article was published in June 2010 and I was contacted by another magazine Triathlete Europe. Thinking it was for another interview, I got a shock when they asked me to start blogging for them. I obviously jumped at the chance.

As a result of the publicity pre-sales rocketed and I found that my book had become the number 1 pre-order sports book on

Then disaster struck.

I’d emailed my publisher to tell them the good news about the blog and the chart position and their response was very subdued. I started to worry but just thought they were busy. Two days later I got an email that knocked me for six, the company had filed for bankruptcy, my book wasn’t going to be published. Although gutted I sent an email wishing them well and saying that my thoughts were with those who were losing their jobs. I was told another publisher was interested in my work but once again it would be a waiting game.

approximately 5 weeks later I found out that another publisher had picked up my book and would be publishing it. I can’t express how relieved I was. More editing followed, the final chapter was completely rewritten to bring the book up to date and a new cover design was unveiled.

So my book “Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run.”finally saw the light of day on January 1st 2011. It’s been a very long and stressful journey at times but one I’d do all again if I had to. I consider myself very fortunate as the world is full of authors that have struggled for years and years not getting published, I was lucky enough for it to happen straight away.

Hopefully if you buy the book you’ll enjoy it, hopefully it portrays my passion for triathlon and my firm belief that everyone can achieve what they want if they work hard enough and their ambitions are based in reality, and hopefully you’ll find it fun after all we all need a laugh after a hard training session.

Best Wishes,


The book is available in all good bookshops.



The Guardian Bookshop



Sprint Books

Red Pepper Books



35 responses to “The Books

  1. Dammit. Ambitions have to be based in reality. So that’s where I’ve been going wrong!! :o)

  2. I’d forgotten all about your blog. I hope you are able to keep this and the training going in 2011

  3. I picked up your book in Waterstones last week – I’m trying to find inspiration to carry me through the Reading Half Marathon in a few weeks time (nowhere near your distances, but a challenge for someone like me!). In a week I’ve nearly finished it and just found your blog today – will be an avid reader of your blog now too! Thank you πŸ™‚

    • Hi thanks for your kind comments, I really appreciate them.
      Good luck for Reading, have heard it’s a really good race – do they still do the stadium finish ( that sounds cool ! ) ?
      It may be a lot less than an Ironman, but having done my fair share of half-marathons I know that they are a challenge that needs to be respected. Good luck with the rest of the training, stay injury free and enjoy the whole thing come race day πŸ™‚

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  5. Saw your book yesterday, and was curious as I’m about to do my first sprint triathlon in May. When I read the back cover my jaw dropped open, as I’m an overweight, thirty-something, librarian, who hasn’t swam for more than 20 years and up until a fortnight ago didn’t own a bike. Needless to say, I took your book as an omen and read it from cover to cover in one day. Strangely enough, I also had complications at birth, and I’m also allergic to chlorine (though not as badly as you by the sound of it).

    Anyway, the book was fantastic, a real insight into an “ordinary” person doing an extraordinary thing. The triathlon is really a stepping stone towards a half marathon I’m running in November, then hopefully the London Marathon next year (or failing that, the one in Stratford a month later). Who knows though, maybe I’ll be addicted after one, as you were.

    Great book, and interesting blog. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Statto,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Weird eh? The similarities.
      Hope the chlorine allergy doesn’t hamper your training – plenty of pools around that don’t use it anymore.
      Good luck with the sprint, and the half marathon in November. Not to mention with the London lottery – good you’ve got a back up race though, there are plenty of other great marathons around.
      Glad you enjoyed the book and hope you continue reading the blog.

  6. Was browsing through waterstones in glasgow when I picked up your book. I saw some similarities right away. I’m 30, overweight and I had agreed to do a daft endurance event with no real idea what I was letting myself in for ( a few months earlier I had signed up to do a 600 mile bike ride…when I didnt own a road bike) Like you I enjoy training and have now become a bit addicted to it, so much so that I was already looking for the next challenge (even tho I havent completed the first one yet)…and Ive found it in your book!! Looking throught the pictures in your book I saw you standing there with your Medals at the Skipton Triathlon… Girlfriend is from Skipton and all her family are there….so that was it…….Why the hell not eh?? I can swim (though I might have to have another think about this after reading the book) I can Ride…nope def got that covered…..but I cant run…..2 out of 3 is a start. I just finished your book last night and I have to say I have renewed confidence to do my bike ride and I now can wait till its finished so I can get training for Triathlon and hopefully other events in between. ….now I dont know if that will kickstart a desire to become an iron man………………………………..but I do know that last night looking through my gps computer I noticed that 7 laps of my local park is exactly marathon distance………………whats the worst that can happen!!!

  7. Oh and I forgot to say!!…the book is great…thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • Thanks Kendo, I’m really glad that you enjoyed the book.
      A 600 mile bike ride? Wow, now that is impressive! Best of luck with that. Don’t forget the chamois cream.
      Skipton was a really great event, my club, COLT, have it as our sprint counter for the club championship every year.
      When you start the running build up gently, so you don’t get injured.
      Good luck with the future triathlons, let me know how you get on.

  8. Hey Andy. I bought your book as a means of post-op inspiration. Hasn’t disappointed. Just what I needed. Pirates wah-hey!
    Many thanks,
    Renny H

    • Hey Renny,
      Thanks for leaving a comment, and very glad that you are enjoying the book. Hope the recovery from the op is going well, and you are back to full strength soon. Pirates are great!

  9. Hi Andy,
    I bought your book on Saturday as I have been thinking about doing a triathlon for years, but I have always managed to find a reason not to enter. Anyway I finished your book late on Monday night and found I had signed up for the Blenheim sprint triathlon. I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me with your story. It really helped me take that first step. Just need to do the training now. I hope I get the bug like you.
    Thanks again

    • Hi John,
      Glad you enjoyed the book and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment – really appreciate it.
      Nice one – by all accounts Blenheim is a top event, am sure you’ll love it. Ha ha yeah that pesky training malarky, I’m sure you’ll get it done and get bitten by the bug.
      Good luck with it all.

  10. Hi andy

    Read the book what an inspiration completed my first triathlon earlier this year and have now found myself signed up for outlaw 2012. Good luck with winter training and the 2012 season

  11. Hi Martin,
    Thanks for leaving a comment, glad you enjoyed the book, always nice to hear that.
    Cool that you’ve signed up for the Outlaw, it’s a top event, I’m racing there next year as well so if you see me come and say hi, or shout some abuse as you pass me on the bike / run πŸ˜‰
    Good luck with the training.

  12. mauricio elizondo

    like the book! congrats..never give up!

  13. Hi Andy

    Great book came across it on Kindle .
    Mostly keeping fit on the bike these days due to bad left knee but would like to get back running for more all round fitness I to have orthotics in my trainers but my left knee still gives me trouble after a run NHS say the left leg is half inch longer then the right which has made it flat footed.l would be interested in your ideas how to get back running again I read I your book and you say that you got your running style looked at on a teadmill and changed it and it is now ok were go for this .

    Ps good luck in you do this year

  14. Just finished reading your book. Pretty inspirational mate – well done. I’ll now spend some time catching up with your blog and seeking further inspiration for events in 2012. Great stuff.

  15. I have just finished reading your book, it has inspired my to sign up for an Iron Man event, later in the year. I’ve got no experience with triathlons at all. Hope I get round.

    Thanks for an excellent book!

  16. Time to take some incoming! Its all your fault! I read your book whilst working in Nigeria for several months bored and looking for training books on kindle. 4 more triathlon books later and hours spent reading forums with a little bit of training I’m down from 21 St to 17.5 St. I get home from Africa with just 10 days to train for my first event the Great North Swim and a small Aquathon days after something i would have never considered enrolling for till reading your book – inspirational. Best wishes for the Outlaw and to you and your young family.

    Will (the cart horse)

  17. Loved the book mate – provided some great motivation as I am coming up to the end of a similar year to yours and it is good to know that there are others in the same boat! Really interested to see that you succeeded so well with group training – I had the problem of no tri club near me, but then didnt go looking for another – training solo can be hard sometimes! Good luck for Outlaw, and I’ll probably see you around on one of the courses…need to walk the plank and get some Pirate gear!

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed your book, Andy. I read it the day I bought it in within the space of a few hours – the other book I bought at the same time by one Mr S. Coe is still sitting in the Waterstones plastic bag! Congratulations, too, for completing the book to the short deadline and for your truly amazing Ironman achievements. I believe that you offer exactly the right amount of tips and advice and the more discerning readers will no doubt be able to glean these and put them to use as part of their training. What comes through strongly in your book is the genuine warmth and support of those around you.

    As someone involved in the publishing industry, it was very interesting to read about this side of the story, too. Your book has inspired me to take up running again and to try to be more disciplined with my blog. If I do have a criticism, I thought that at times you could have been better served by some of your editors, perhaps, but this is more a reflection of publishing rather than any criticism of you. Altogether, you carried it off with your sheer enthusiasm and engaging story-telling – well done.

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks very much for your kind comments, I really appreciate it.
      I’m very lucky to have an amazing support network of family and friends, which has made my adventures much more enjoyable.
      I hope that you running is going well and that you’ve got round to reading Lord Coes book.
      As for the point on the editing, I worked with two different ones who I never met. Being new to this game I just went with whatever I was told to do.
      The books are far from perfect, there are spelling mistakes etc…but as long as the readers get the story and the message then that’s all that really matters I guess πŸ™‚

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  20. Just read your book and i must say it was an inspiring read.
    I must confess the first part of the book had me thinking ‘you need to seriously man up’ especially regarding swimming outdoors.
    Then again i learnt to swim in a reservoir near Barnsley in a pair of trainers so it all about perspective i suppose:)
    But you did man up seriously as the book went on, you overcame all your fears and more.
    It got me seriously thinking about entering the world of triathlon.
    Well done mate:)


  21. Hi Andy, just read your book – it’s been on my wish-list for a while now. I took up triathlon 2 years ago, after 10 years on my backside working as a lawyer turning me into a fat forty-something year old. I did my first sprint distance at the 2XU Mamzar triathlon championship on the Dubai/Sharjah border and even though I was probably in the last 10 out of the water – only just learnt to swim front crawl, I loved it. I have done 4 more triathlons and Cape Argus (Cape Town) since then and even did a triathlon camp with Michelle Dillon which was – let’s say – interesting for a total novice.

    Triathlons are parked for a while as I finish a masters degree that has been hanging around for a while although I continue to swim/bike and run for fitness. Husband has taken to it like a duck to water and is doing his first 70.3 next month, a second in December and Roth in July, so I will be co-piloting whilst I look for my next challenge.

    Anyway point I wanted to make – triathlon is a lifestyle, a new set of friends, replacing old habits for new, positive and healthy ones (with the odd slip every now and again – we are human) and the more I read about people taking it up, the more this is obvious to me. I am so glad I read a magazine article with a 50+ year old woman telling the world that she was fitter at 50 than she had been at 40 thanks to triathlons. It just takes that one article/voice to set the voices off in your own head and before you know it you’re out there giving it a go.

    Thanks for being that voice Andy – am sure you will inspire many more with your Pirate/COLT antics and race war stories! Hope to see you out there at some point – am a Donny lass after all.

  22. Hi Andy, I’ve just finished your book. Came across it in Waterstones and took it on holiday to Corfu with me. I’ve never done a triathlon but recently completed the Swansea half marathon and as my dad does triathlons and is slightly crazy (like you and most triathletes!) it is something which I am considering. Just wanted to say what an inspiration your book is and that you seem like such a humble nice guy, despite what you’ve achieved! Look forward to reading the second book and keeping up to date with your blog now that I have found it πŸ™‚

  23. Hi Andrew, I finished reading your book about 5 mins ago and I got to say that it is a great inspiration. I found it in a book exchange in a hostal while traveling Peru (of all place). I have started cycling and swiming a couple years ago in the hope to some day but my self to the test and complete an Ironman (althought I’m sure just going to the starting line must be a great challenge too, knowing what’s coming). I registered for my town (Rimouski Canada) annual marathon for the 10k distance (got to start somewhere) and the hope to do a full one next year. On my first run to train for that, I had a crippling pain in the knee after only 3 miles. I walked it off. I went for a seccond run a couple days later and the same thing at just about the same distance. I’m have to go running today to. If I still get the pain I’ll have to see a doc. What really keeps my spirit is the knowledge that you had bad luck in training too, but you kept going and it was worth it, so I’ll keep going and won’t let injuries stop me.

    Sorry for the long post, but I feel like I had to let you know that you are an exemple of determination. And I hope I’ll be able to do an event with you and your friends, you guys rock.

    • Guillaume – do NOT run on it. Go to your doc, otherwise you could be exacerbating an existing injury. Do not worry about the challenges – a lot of people get issues with their knees. Get it sorted and aim for a long cycling / swimming challenge to start with, sort your knees out, then aim for the ironman! Good luck!

      • I went for a run yesterday, as soon as I felt pain I stoped and started walking for a bit, then tried running again until I felt pain. I did a whole lot of…. 1.5km 😦 then I could not do one step running without pain (altought I can walk fine) I’m calling sick tomorrow to go to the doc

      • Hi, Running really harsh on the body for new runners especially if you aren’t very lean or haven’t run in a long time.
        As the previous poster said I’d stick to swimming and cycling. IMO cycling is the best form of exercise for building fitness and weight loss bar non.
        Couch to 5k is a really good programme for getting into running or those returning from injury.
        Cheers Rob

  24. Just finished reading your first book, and it could of been written about me! Really enjoyed following the journey you went on, I have experienced many of the same feelings with some of the races you have completed! After various cycling, endurance and triathlon events including Ironman uk 70.3 your book and your story has given me the motivation to sign up for my first iron distance, my sights are set on Bolton 2018 giving me enough time to go from a professional eater to a professional triathlete! Just hope I can hit the training with as much energy and enthusiasm as you did! Thanks for the inspiration, and looking forward to ordering the second book to see what other antics you got up to! Keep on ‘tri’ing



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