Khadija Hegazy “Find your why and you’ll never need to wait for motivation”

Khadija Hegazy

Alongside her love for a challenge and immense drive to do what her heart loves, Khadija Hegazy is an accomplished triathlete and an Adidas Runner. Finding her love and passion in swimming, cycling, and running, Khadija Hegazy is definitely the jack of all trades for sports. It is no easy challenge when you’re trying to master one sport, let alone 3 ones, and Khadija has done it all.

We sat down with Khadija Hegazy to understand more about what it takes to be a triathlete, how sports can affect one’s mental health, and how to deal with burnout. This conversation will leave you up and ready to do the things that you love. Whether it comes to her cake business The Sweet Palate or her triathlete achievements, the passion that Khadija Hegazy has is definitely incomparable. 

Tell us your story with sports from the beginning… 

I think my very first memory of sports is my parents dragging me in the morning to swim practice every other day. Sometimes it wasn’t a lot of fun, but doing sports was obligatory in my household which is something I am very thankful for right now. Every summer I would try a new sport, some of them stuck and some didn’t. I think I was 15 or 16 when I got back to Basketball and I loved it so much. 

Khadija Hegazy

I started running in 2011 as a form of morning exercise to start my day fresh and energized. It started with as short as 2km runs and I fell in love immediately. I kept wanting to improve and challenge myself more, so I started increasing the distances gradually. My first Half Marathon was in 2014 and my first Full Marathon was in 2017. I got hooked by finish lines and medals, so I guess the rest is all history. 

What sparked your love to be a triathlete?

I love to challenge myself and try new things. When I first heard about triathlons I thought these people were crazy. About a year later I went to watch one and got really inspired to try it out, but I didn’t get a chance to do so until 2019.

I did my first triathlon and the finish line was absolutely something else. An indescribable feeling of achievement and proving to myself that I can. Since then, triathlon has become a big part of my life.

Tell us about some of the challenges you faced as an athlete or as a woman in the field… and how did you overcome them? 

As an athlete, I face challenges almost on a daily basis. Whether it’s the early training hours, managing my day, maintaining my social life, or even showing up for practice.

Being a woman comes with another set of challenges. I mean we’re in 2022 and I still get catcalled sometimes when I run alone in the streets.

I always try to run in safe areas or with other people, but there’s still a percentage. Thankfully, nowadays it’s not as much as 5 or 10 years ago. I also don’t know why some people still underestimate women in sports. We work hard and put in a huge effort, yet we’re sometimes perceived as “weak” or “incompetent”. People need to educate themselves more. I am learning to mute all the negative voices of doubts and discouragement whether they’re internal or external. It’s a learning process of ups and downs, but it’s very empowering. 

It is also been very hard to find triathlon training/racing gear for covered girls, especially here in Egypt. It’s a huge hassle as in triathlons you need to minimize changing time between disciplines and that’s quite impossible for Hijabi girls. I learned to adapt and have the best of both worlds; finding the right gear without compromising so much on performance. Thankfully being an Adidas athlete helped a lot in this. 

How did you come to be a part of Adidas runners? 

In late 2018, Adidas approached me to be one of their ambassadors representing Hijabi athletes in Egypt. I have been collaborating with them since then. Adidas Runners Cairo has always been in their plan and we always talked about it from season to season. It didn’t launch until early this year, yet I am very grateful to be part of it along with the rest of the coaching team and I’m looking forward to what’s coming.

As an athlete, what has been your proudest moment so far?

Finishing my first Ironman 70.3 distance last November. For those who don’t know, it’s a triathlon of 1.9km swimming, 90km cycling, and 21km running.

It’s something that had been on my bucket list for years. I had worked hard for almost a year prior to that race and until the start line, I had doubts about whether I could finish it or not. It’s a day I’ll always remember and be grateful for.

What do you tell yourself and how do you encourage it when you can’t find the energy or the mental capacity to train? 

Believe it or not, I’m not always motivated. We’re all humans and it’s impossible to stay motivated 100% of the time. I prefer to stay driven by a goal or set of goals. 

Drive is what keeps you going even on tough days when you just don’t feel like training or when you want to give up.

Khadija Hegazy

Find a goal that drives you, find your why and you’ll never need to wait for motivation.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to take the same career path as you? 

I would say try to explore as much as possible, don’t be afraid to try, and don’t be afraid to fail. Do what you love the most and keep reaching out. Possibilities are endless once you step out of your comfort zone. Reach out as much as you can and one day it will click.

What do you hope to achieve in the future? 

I would like to finish the Full Ironman distance soon and run the 6 Major Marathons. I’m obsessed with the medal.

I also wish to represent and inspire Hijabi athletes not just in Egypt, but worldwide.

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