Inside the world of Kelly Holmes - Women's Running

Inside the world of Kelly Holmes

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  July 11, 2014


My aim is to do one competitive duathlon every month I have done five. For the first one I went to Dorney Lake, it was in January and luckily no snow but it was when we had all this rain so they hadn’t cleared the pathways, so I got a puncture. You get all hyped for it and I did the run and I was on the bike and I got this puncture and I thought “oh no” and then suddenly I thought “thank god for that because I’m absolutely knackered.” I was stomping back on my bike and then I thought “actually no I want to finish now.” The last two I’ve won my age group and been first woman back as well.

I train six days a week I have been out on my bike and these watt bikes the last couple of months. I do some core work, a few weights and circuit training but I don’t have a regimented plan at the moment, I’m just fitting it in when I can. I think about what I want to do depending on how I feel, but I am trying to be consistent with training.

When I did my first duathlon I literally hadn’t done any running I have done more cycling as opposed to doing the running as I still get calf and Achilles problems and I don’t want that to be the limiting factor of me doing this duathlon – it will if I up the anti on the running so I’m having to be really cautious with that.

Inside the world of Dame Kelly Holmes

I was not able to walk for four days after racing I’m having to do more calf races, heel drops, trying to stretch a little bit more, do shorter runs and a little bit quicker as that suits my type of training anyway, and then do more on the bike.

I can get by on the runs I do the sprint distance, so it’s 5K, a 20 or 30K bike and then a 5K run. On a track you’ve got two laps, set distance, flat as a pancake, on these other runs they can be undulating, on mud or grass. You could be going through streets, towns. You start off genuinely all together but by the time you’re on the bike you’re all split up so you don’t really know if you’re at the back or at the front

There’s no pressure because no one knows where I am. Certainly I’m not at the front on the bike. I go for it on the first run to get a bit of a head start but then I see all these guys charging past me on the bike. You get to the run and you can see the guys charge past you and of course my head goes into catch up mode. I really enjoy the competition because there’s no pressure.

I believe in fate. I believe in destiny. And I do believe that if you put the work in then it will come I’m not religious in any shape or form but I do believe that if you’re one of those people that has been trying and you’ve kind of proved that you can get it then you’ll get it.


When I did my 1,500m at the Olympic Game in Athens, it’s bizarre, a couple of things happened to me One was I was sitting in my room in the Olympic Village in Athens I had my own room. I sat on my bed and I listened to Alicia Keys ‘If I haven’t got you’ – because that was about my medals. As I sat on the bed, no word of a lie, a gust of wind came around my neck and it went three times, I remember it absolutely clearly and I thought something had come into the room – no one had come in and you know when you get all your arm hairs come up and I actually shouted out ‘I’m ready’ sort of thing. Just before the 1,500m, I had that same feeling. When I was running around the track in the 1,500m I felt so relaxed and so in the zone, it literally felt like I was kind f being ‘thingied’ (lifts up shoulders of shirt).

That’s why I’ve got the word ‘Angel’ written on my shoulder Because it actually felt like something was helping me achieve my dream after all of the ups and downs. I always tap my shoulder, when they’ve told me that I’ve forgot my purse and I have to drive back home or something. I always say thanks to the angel on my shoulder.

It’s quite hard to put yourself in the positive A lot of time in the competition you sometimes see a defeat, because you’re always worried about the outcome. So, that’s the key, to actually turn whatever people always see, because they’re worried about, into a positive, actually seeing themselves achieve it. I would look back at my races, look at my opposition and look at my form and where I had made a mistake, where somebody else had made a break and I didn’t see it.

I always, always believed that I would win a gold medal Since I was 14 I always believed that I would win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Just took a long time to get there. When I was 16 I won the Mini Youth Olympics 800m. I remember standing on the rostra, getting my gold medal, with the national anthem playing, British flag flying and I remember saying to myself, “I wonder if this comes true when I’m older”. 


I joined the army when I was 18 and I became a personal trainer when I was 21 I watched the Olympic Games when I was 22 again and there was a girl I used to run against as a junior – because I’d given up athletics to join the army ­­­– at the Olympic Games. That reignited the dream. When I was in the army I was very much committed to my army life, it was like 100 per cent, so when I got back into athletics, I was running for the army and they found out about my international junior career so that persuaded me to get me in the teams more. I was very much juggling because I wanted to be good at my job and it happened that the championship I got to, I got to off the back of training three times a week off the track. The rest of it was in webbing, weights, boots on my feet, going over assault courses, going through mud with me weapon and that was my training. Then I was at the World Championships, getting an English record. 

I think more women athletes should train with men If you want to get better, you should always train with people who are better than you in something. It’s the only way that you can see the progression that you need.

Seb Coe was my hero I watched him win the Olympic games for GB in the 1,500m and I wanted to be Olympic Champion 1,500m. It didn’t matter that it was a male or a female. There is an element of women that need women role models to show that it is possible. There is a physical difference obviously; a lot of woman will go ‘I can’t do that because I’m not a man’. For me it was just about the success of somebody achieving, it doesn’t matter who it is it’s just about somebody who has worked hard, committed to what they do, and will try and do anything to try and achieve it, and see the success and how much it means to someone, that is what inspired me.

In my early days my PE teacher was more of a role model She was somebody that taught me to believe in myself. With my PE teacher she was very athletic, very motivating, she believed in me, she encouraged me to get into sport, she was the only person that told me I was good. In sport and fitness as a whole I would like to think that women can just find somebody or something that drives them to be good. You can never be somebody else, but you can look at what somebody else has achieved and go “actually there are elements of what they’ve done as a person, I can’t see why I can’t do it!”

I put a lot of pressure on myself to be good because I don’t like failing But I understand now how to cope with failure. I am probably quite erratic at the things I do, I’m kind of an all of nothing person. If I say I’m going to do something I’ll do it, so I push myself to the limit.

It’s tough, if you want to be good, you have to work hard. Natural ability can only go so far If you don’t win the first time, pick yourself up, work out how you’re going to be better, and go again.

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Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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