In the latest edition of ‘In the Pen’, our series of interviews with the runners that inspire the Lonely Goat Running Club community, we welcome double Olympic gold medallist, Dame Kelly Holmes.
Introducing Dame Kelly
Col. Dame Kelly Holmes MBE is one of the most successful British track and field athletes. She specialised in running the 800 and 1500 metres races, and won Olympic gold in both events in Athens in 2004.
Initially, Dame Kelly combined her athletics with a career in the British Army, and she has since been made an honorary Colonel with the Royal Armoured Corps Training Centre. Since retiring from athletics in 2005, Dame Kelly has become a motivational speaker, written five books, and founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust charity which supports young athletes and young people facing disadvantage in the UK.
We are very grateful to Dame Kelly for taking the time to answer our ‘In the Pen’ questions.
Why do you run?
I run because I’m good at it. I run because I have been doing it for 38 years. I run because it makes me feel good, and I like to see progress, and because running is good physically as well as mentally.
What motivates you?
Having goals, setting targets, having success. When I was 14 I wanted to be an Olympic Champion and that was always my motivation.
What are your top tips for beginner runners?
Ensure you have the right footwear. You don’t need to have expensive trainers, but you do need to have trainers that are suitable for your running style, so go to a running shop and get an analysis of your style done.
- Having high-vis and lights in the winter is really important;
- Find a programme to follow;
- Set yourself goals so you can see progress;
- Entering an event or challenge of any level will help you have something to go for.
What is your favourite place to run?
I’m a massive fan of South Africa. The weather is beautiful and it has lots of different terrains. It’s quite mountainous but also has coastal paths, trails and vineyards, so I love running there.
Locally, I have a lake that I love called Haysden Lake. I run down there and near the sports ground as it’s a lovely quiet route.
I also run locally at Knole Park, which is very undulating but you see the deer. It’s got a stately home called Knole House and is just a lovely place to go.
Where would you like to run that you haven’t?
I’d like to just run in different countries. I like warmer countries – but who doesn’t?
It would be nice if I could set a series of races in my head that I’d want to do – possibly 5Ks or 10Ks – and then travel around Europe to do these, and then go wider afield.
What did you used to do that you don’t do now?
As an élite international athlete, I used to do track work, but I don’t do that now.
Track was very important for a middle distance runner and I did a lot of speed endurance sessions: 200 [metre reps], 300s, 400s, 800s, or kilometre reps, with short recovery inbetween.
It’s not something that I need to do or particularly want to do now.
What result are you most proud of?
The Olympic Games and winning two Gold medals, as it’s more than I’d ever imagined I could do.
But I’m also proud of when I first broke the British record in 1997 in Sheffield. It had been set by Zola Budd and stood for 12 years. It was amazing. My family came to watch and I felt like I was flying. I was 5 seconds faster than anyone else in the World that year.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by other people who have gone through different stories and journeys and continue to fight through them to come out on top – whatever that means for them in their life.
When I was 14 ,it was Sebastian Coe and watching him win the Olympic Games 1500m in Los Angeles. That created the dream I had to become an Olympic Champion.
Are you a parkrunner?
Yes, I love parkrun. I think it’s brilliant and has such a great community feel.
I think parkrun gives everybody an opportunity to shine in their own world, whether that’s taking part in something for the first time, interacting and socialising with other people, or going out there and getting personal bests and using it as a training tool. I think it’s great.
I do “parkrun tourism” [visiting different parkruns] when I’m working away.
Music or silence when running?
I like both. If I’m not really training, and I’m going out for a nice easy run, then I really enjoy music.
I think it lifts you and you get lost in a song and don’t really realise how far or fast you’re running. It makes it painless.
But also, sometimes I like going for a silent run and just being within my thoughts. I think that’s good for your mental wellbeing.
What do you like about running on your own?
I’ve pretty much always run on my own, so it’s something I’m just used to.
To be honest, I think running on your own gives you good skills in terms of being able to get in a race and know how to control your breathing and form.
When people run on their own, it’s a time for learning. Really think about how you run, about your form, about relaxing your shoulders and controlling your breathing. Then, when you’re in the hype of an event you’ll perform so much better.
What is your next challenge?
My next challenge is to get back running and fully fit. I had an operation in July 2020 on my heel bone. I had Haglunds Deformity, which is a bone that sticks out from the heel, so I had the Achilles tendon lifted and cleaned. I’m still taking it slowly, but my aim would be that I can get out and do a proper run on New Year’s Day. That’s my hope.
How can people follow you online?
Please follow me online @damekellyholmes on pretty much all social media:
I also have Military in Motion, which is a community-based platform that I started at the beginning of the first lockdown. It’s a brilliant platform for people who just want to push themselves and have a really good social and support mechanism, while getting fit and active. It’s for all different levels, but I push everyone to reach their full potential. I run lots of live running sessions and fitness challenges and people really immerse themselves into those challenges. Follow @militaryinmotion or go to militaryinmotion.com to find out more.
I’ve got lots of programmes coming out in 2021. A lot of it will be around mindfulness and mindset so tune in! I’m hoping they’ll inspire people, motivate people, and give people hope.
Thank you Dame Kelly!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of ‘In the Pen‘, coming soon…