This American ultra marathon runner competes in races that range anywhere up to 100 miles at a time, all over the world. And not just on roads or sidewalks, but he’s running these long distances up and down mountains and on steep trails.
It’s pretty much as intense as it sounds.
So how does a professional runner get to this point?
Yassine explains that he’s always been highly active since he was a young kid. His mom would constantly have to remind him to put his legs underneath the table because he would leave his feet out to the sides – always acting ready to go. Though he played some sports in school growing up, endurance sports never appealed to him until about a decade ago when he was 25.
Yassine heard about a local triathlon and decided to try it out. One thing was obvious – he was okay on the swimming portion, okay on the biking portion but really good at the running portion. At that point, everyone encouraged him to improve on the other areas but Yassine decided to instead focus on the one area he knew he was good at, running.
Unlike other ultra runners that work their way up over time, Yassine quickly moved into ultra running after competing in just a few marathons. The average distances that he runs are 31 miles (50k), 50 miles, 62 miles (100k) but some distances as long as 100 miles. What he liked about ultra marathons as opposed to a typical road marathon is that the that the locations are usually in more scenic areas. In Yassine’s words, “Running through mountains and trails allows me to run in some of the most breathtaking beautiful areas of the world. It’s more sensory stimulating and there is something deeply embedded in our genome that feels good to be out in the forest and mountains.”
He makes a good point. But still, how does someone endure through these long distances both physically and mentally? For Yassine, the answer has been through floating.
It any sort of endurance sports, injuries are a regular occurrence. Yassine heard about floating through one of his friends who owns The Float Shoppe, in Portland, Oregon who recommended he try floating to help with recovery. Though he started out looking to reap physical benefits he now values floating for more for the mental benefits and overall well-being. He explains that we live in an era of technology and for him to be able to unplug and not have his phone or social media, is such a beneficial thing. Physically recovery is just an added bonus.
However, a huge part of the float tank for Yassine is mental preparation for his races. He states, “You can do all the physical training in the world that you want but if you don’t have the mental game, then forget about it.” One thing that Yassine likes to do is visualize himself running in the race that he is preparing for at the time. He’ll visualize himself going through different parts of the course and really doing well, running free and happy and crossing the finish line in good timing.
One memory for him stands out in particular from summer of 2013. Yassine was preparing for Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, which is the world's oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Before his race in the float tank he was envisioning really finishing out the race hard, hoping for a place in the top 10. Since it’s usually during the last 20 miles that matter most, he kept envisioning himself having a lot of energy towards the end of the race and coming out with his physical strength very in tact.
Day of the race. He’s 17 hours into his run, mile 75 – and he’s ready to give up. About 10 minutes later he sees the guy ahead of him walking and he knows he’s only in 13th place. A few minutes later he sees another guy ahead of him walking and another one laying down. He knew at that point he had to go for it.
His visualization from the tank came back and he was able to make the mental shift necessary at that moment. As Yassine describes it he went from feeling like the hunted, to the hunter. That mental shift was exactly what he needed to carry out the rest of the race.
Yassine finished the race that day in 9th place.
Now, floating once a week is pretty much dialed into Yassine’s schedule. Like with most things, he notices that when he floats more he reaps more of the physical and mental benefits so he tries to keep his schedule consistent.
Though Yassine knows that floating is absolutely beneficial and necessary in his professional running career, he also uses it as a tool to be a better dad, husband, and person. “Floating really helps me to just calm down and live in the moment.”
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To find out more about Yassine Diboun – Life On the Run please click here.