Overcoming yet another fear

I have spent the past few months disciplining myself to do things I find very difficult

bib IM

My Ironman race bib number.

and/or unpleasant. “Mind over matter” has been one of my many mantras. “I can do this” has been another, and “Just a few more minutes”, “Just a few more laps”, and “Just a few more kilometres” have been others.

I have been teaching myself not to fear the water, not to fear pain, not to fear exhaustion. And I have been telling myself I should not fear failure.

It is that fear of failure that has prompted me to write today. While I was doing a 50-minute intense treadmill session this morning, and doing it well, my mind was in complete self-defeat mode. Something inside of me was telling me that no matter what I did, I still wasn’t good enough.

The other Nadia inside of me has decided enough is enough.

On September 30, in less than three weeks from today, I will be standing on the start line of Ironman Barcelona.

For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman race involves a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km cycle followed by a 42km run, all within a specified period of time. 

I haven’t told but a handful of friends and family members about this race for many reasons:

  • What if I don’t even make it to the start line? What if I get injured while I’m training? I can’t deal with the burden of other people’s expectations.
  • What if I jinx it by telling people?
  • What if I do the race but don’t manage to finish it? I’ll be letting everyone down. I’ll be letting myself down as well in front of everyone else.
  • I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. I don’t want anyone to think I’m bragging when there really isn’t anything at all to brag about.
  • I need to focus. I need to do what I need to do without thinking about other people.

I am sick of these conversations going round and round in my head. I am sick of fearing failure. I am sick of fearing others knowing about this for whatever reason.

The past many months have been more about gaining mental strength than they have been about gaining physical strength. Today I decided I needed to gain the upper hand over my self-defeating internal conversations. I need to gain the upper hand over some more of my fears.

There, world. I’ve said it out loud. I have been training to do an Ironman.

I am FULL of self-doubt over my ability to finish this race. I know I can keep going. But this race is not just about keeping going. It’s also about going fast enough. I have never been fast. If I don’t reach certain points in the race at certain times, I’ll get pulled out. Since I’ve been training for this event now for quite some time, I have a pretty good idea about my ability level. It isn’t impossible that I finish this race. But if I do, it will be very very tight. All I can do is do my best. If it isn’t enough, I’m proud of all the work I’ve put into this.

Let’s be honest, if it doesn’t work out I’ll be heart-broken. And I don’t want to be.

I want to be convinced that this is just another race. That whether I finish it or not isn’t important at all. That getting fit is what is important and I’ve been doing that.

But no matter what I tell myself, there’s a part of me that just REALLY wants to finish the race.

Today is the day, I have decided, that I switch on my “I CAN FUCKING DO THIS!!!!!” mode. It is going to be a HUGE struggle for me to keep that mode switched on.

The next 2.5 weeks need to be about training my mind to be positive. I have done the physical training. It has required tons of mental training. But it’s that mental aspect that still needs more work.

The funny thing is that the only reason I ever sign up for these crazy things is that my “I CAN FUCKING DO THIS!!!!” mode was switched on to start with. Why does it switch itself off the minute I’ve done the signing up?


I hope. Maybe. We’ll see. If not, failure is just another thing that strengthens us.

Oh, for goodness sake!


    1. Congratulations, Yasser! I’ll certainly do everything I can. Hopefully that combination of numbers is lucky 🙂

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