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Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run: My Triathlon Journey from Common Man to Ironman [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Andy Holgate
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

1 Jan 2011
The inspirational true story of one man's journey from flab to super-fitness. Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run follows Andy Holgate's epic journey from being an overweight librarian to an Ironman triathlete. Before he could even begin the rollercoaster ride which amassed more punctures than Andy cares to remember, this would-be Superman had first to buy a second-hand bike and take swimming lessons. Along the way, he ended up in hospital, dealt with family crises, encountered crocodiles and deadly amoebas, and persuaded his friends that doing an Ironman event is what normal people do on their stag weekend. This is the inspirational, amusing and moving story of how one normal bloke learnt how to fall off a bike and not injure himself, to run a marathon despite two dodgy knees, and most importantly, how not to drown.

Frequently Bought Together

Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run: My Triathlon Journey from Common Man to Ironman + Can't Sleep, Can't Train, Can't Stop: More Misadventures in Triathlon + A Life Without Limits
Price For All Three: 25.17

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Know the Score Books (1 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848187432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848187436
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andy Holgate spends his spare time splashing around a bit, pedalling a lot and shuffling forward ( on a good day ) in the pursuit of Triathlon glory, or more realistically finishing in one piece.

Andy was born in 1972 in Barrow-in-Furness and now lives just across the bay in Lancaster, the one in the always sunny north of England, not the one in the almost always sunny US state of Pennsylvania.

Writing and Triathlon are old bed-fellows for Andy. He started writing when he started harbouring strange urges to jump in dark, cold and frankly scary lakes. Andy started blogging about his Ironman training and other random thoughts and pretty soon he was getting mail telling him he was inspiring and also getting told off when he missed a blogging day. Eventually Andy was offered a book deal and loved every minute of writing his story, as did his cat who loved to sleep on the laptop keyboard. The cat was most upset when he found out he wouldn't be named as a co-author.

When not racing around the world you'll find Andy working as a librarian,training hard, drinking too much coffee, learning the ropes of being a new dad, diving with sharks, jumping off bridges and most of all just enjoying life.

Andy's first book Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run was a finalist in the Best New Writer category at the 2012 British Sports Book Awards. It also won Best Book at the 2014 Running Awards.

You can catch up with Andys latest thoughts by subscribing to his blog: IronHolgs: The Musings of a COLT Ironman at

And if you tweet then follow Andy @Ironholgs

Product Description


"A great book! Andrew Holgate claims he 'Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run', but he can certainly write. His book is filled with terrific lessons on living life to its fullest. I would argue that he can swim, can ride and can run very well indeed!" --Dean Karnazes, New York Times best-selling author and ultra-marathon legend

"What really comes to the fore in Andy's book is that no matter what level of triathlon you are involved in, the motivations, discipline, rewards and love of the sport are universal. Andy's book dispels many of the reservations that can initially prevent people from taking up any form of physical activity and shows us how sport can not only be a positive step towards physical well-being but also can be rewarding for the mind and soul." --Catriona Morrison, Multiple Ironman Champion

"I thoroughly enjoyed it. The ability of sport to change people's lives, like Andy's story, is not something I've considered. It was a real eye-opener. Trying to be as fit and as fast as you can all the time it is very easy to get wrapped up in your own little world so it was nice to be given a wider sense of the sport and be reminded of the real reason and power of sport; to inspire enjoyment in activity. Thanks for a great read." --Alistair Brownlee, ITU World Triathlon Champion

"Anyone new to tri, considering the leap to ironman or just after a mental boost should check out this autobiographical account of one overweight librarian's first forays into multisport. In an inspirational story Andy recounts how he was enticed to take part in Cockerham's annual triathlon, and bitten by the endurance bug. If you want to roll your eyes and chuckle conspiratorially at another newbie's mistakes and triumphs, tuck in." --220 Triathlon Magazine

"Best for Inspiration! If he can do it... Holgate's ironman journey is an uplifting insight into the power of taking on a challenge. He tells his story with an irreverent sense of humour and packs the book with useful information. If you're thinking of doing an ironman this book is just the thing to convince you that you are up for the challenge." --Triathletes World Magazine

"Loved reading Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run. He is able to make you laugh as he turns his depressing situation around to a wonderful, fulfilling life. This is not just a story for triathletes, it's a great book for anyone struggling with life and looking for some sunlight."

"A great read which shows that it's more about the taking part and enjoyment of any sport. Having little knowledge of ironman I became interested immediately when reading Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run! It shows the efforts from a 'grass roots level'. I enjoyed the journey of how Andy accomplished his goal and how he enjoyed himself in doing so, finding time for laughs; and as you will read, he never takes himself too seriously." --Huw Bennett, Ospreys & Wales

"This book shows the reality that triathlon is accessible to anyone. This story would make a great television show as well as being a great book." --The Simon Gowen Triathlon Show

"Andy Holgate's honest and real-life writings set this book above the rest. A heart-warming and inspiring story of one man's personal challenge - try reading this book without wanting to put on a wetsuit. I have Andy to blame for having to get up early and go out training on these cold winter mornings." --The Fitness Blogger

"Andy Holgate is the Bill Bryson of the Triathlon World. Quite simply, I LOVED this book."

"A really fascinating story." --Talk Radio Europe

"An inspiration to us all." --Lancaster Guardian

"An inspirational story." --North West Evening Mail

About the Author

Andy Holgate is 37 years old and lives in Lancaster. After less than 18 months' training, in 2007 he completed his first Ironman distance race, The Big Woody. He walked down the aisle a week later and married Emma, who continues to be an Ironwidow. In 2009 Andy completed his second Ironman in Germany in a time of 12hrs 57m 21s.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Dedication 3 July 2011
I saw this book mentioned on a tweet a while ago and ordered it. I am the sort of reader that reads 2 pages to help me sleep at the end of the day. However, this book saw me finishing it within 2 weeks. This was a first and because of that my wife is now reading it.
A great story about determination and friendship that comes with the sport. It has given me a little boost to get training a little more seriously and it also shows what can be done when you put your mind to it.

A great read and a great story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Anon999
Heard on the grapevine about this book and book it out of general curiousness to see what it was about. BIG MISTAKE. Couldn't put it down and read it pretty much in one sitting. The next day I read it again. Now I can't stop thinking about doing a triathlon, have dusted my bike down from the garage and found my swimming stuff. Yes, it really is that inspirational.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book for me was not an inspirational story about an unfit northern fat bloke who trains to do his first ironman, but simply a means of plugging his Triathlon Clubs and 'bigging up' his fellow triathlete buddies (most of which who have blatantly left reviews on Amazon). Ignoring all this the novel is just mindless dross all about his injuries (in which he had a lot), and how he should have got better times in the ironman races he competed in if it wasn't for those very ailments (welcome to everyone else's world but the rest of us are a bit more humble about it).

The author seems to be a nice enough bloke but the novel I found too frustrating, boring, unfunny and just a poor read about ironman races. I wanted to be inspired, instead I felt irritated and bored.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable, additive and real 13 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I started this book and couldn't put it down. This book is not a how-to guide to Triathlon training - if you need that buy Joe Friel's book. Andy's book is the story of an average guy, setting himself a massive challenge and his experiences through this journey. What really made this book great for me, was its reality. Andy didn't have bottomless pockets to buy the latest kit, his training had to fit around his work and he talks candidly about the challenges of balancing his training with his home life. This is a book for the 99.9% of us who will never make the Ironman podium; those of us who buy magazine to read reviews of bikes that cost more than our family car and those of us who know that lycra will never be a great look for us. I finished the book inspired to follow Andy's steps and booked some swimming lessons the next day. My own Ironman journey has started. It will be a long journey, but it has started. Thanks Andy.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, and very amusing! 7 Jan 2011
I got this book three days ago and have just finished reading it! I loved the style of writing and the humour with which it is written. For me as a newbie triathlete in a similar position regarding recurring health issues threatening to ruin things along the way I could empathize with Andy's problems. Also his lack of funds for buying the top gear though lusting after it all the same! His story proves that anyone with the desire, guts and determination to succeed will do it - hopefully that will be me one day! A great read Andy :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining? Maybe. Inspiring? Not really. 25 Nov 2013
The first 1/3 of the book (up to the Ironman) was entertaining and easy to read, the rest was a chore with dull description of his races, preparations and other benign things of ordinary life... Got really tired of short descriptive sentences, not a literature masterpiece that some reviews claim it to be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ..And can't write either 4 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just terrible, awful, cliched ridden, annoying, self-serving tripe. Couldn't finish it; a feat of endurance greater than an Ultraman. Look elsewhere for inspiration; like "Feet in the Clouds" by Richard Askwith, cracking read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I bought this book on the recommendation of another fellow triathlete. I have been a triathlete since 2007 but have feared moving on in my distances. This year (2012) I decided it was time to move on from Sprint to Olympic, and after reading Andy's journey I am now planning my half Ironman and Ironman for 2013 and 2014 respectively.
This book was a lot of fun to read and very inspirational. I loved reading the journey and also seeing the photos that had been added into the book, which made everything feel more real for me.
Andy, inspirational read, your partner Emma is amazing lady and support to you. When doing this sport that is one thing you need from your respective partner. You have provided me the inspiration to push on my distances and for that I'd like to thank you.
I have been recommending your book to people thinking about triatlons and also those who simply are too afraid to increase their distance.
Good luck for the future and happy racing!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring fun read
A great example of how an ordinary guy can do great things once the mind is set. Also a fun read which encourages all us wannabes to give it a go!
Published 1 day ago by Mike Prince
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read and a thoroughly lovely guy
A great read and a thoroughly lovely guy, attend one of his talks if he comes to your area and get the sequel too!
Published 2 days ago by Miss Wills
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be an Olympic athlete ..... But it helps!
Maybe for those fitness and non fitness fanatics alike!
Published 9 days ago by Brian Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Published 15 days ago by litcrit
5.0 out of 5 stars great book not only for triathletes
great book not only for triathletes. but if you are one, it's a must read before an Ironman distance. great stories. great motivation to train harder and longer :)
Published 27 days ago by Wojciech Lange
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Fun book wich is full of life's little turns which we all can relate too , might just make you give ironman a try !
Published 1 month ago by michael hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read
I run and swim but I don't really have any interest in triathlon, but by the end of chapter one I found myself browsing the internet to see what novice triathlons are available! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Andy holgate
This is an awesome book, funny and inspiring. Couldnt put it down, would recommend it to anyone interested or thinking of entering a race.
Published 1 month ago by andy
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I'm sorry but I found this book dull. Clearly the author is a nice bloke and I respect him for his achievements but I found the writing style pretty uninspiring and the narrative... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dangermouse
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring and down to earth
Thanks! Great book, its very realistic and great fun to read. After reading this book I will book an Ironman and start training for it with determination!
Published 1 month ago by icveritas
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