Training & Racing

Western States 100 – Preparing for the Dream Run Part 2

Western States 100 – Preparing for the Dream Run Part 2

In “Western States 100 – Preparing for the Dream Run Part 1″ I discussed the physical categories of my training for this particular event. With the Western States Endurance Run (Western States 100) less than a week away, today in my follow up article I’ll continue to break down my preparations for the categories of Heat Training, Mental and Diet.

Heat Training:

Acclimating to the heat is necessary but sometimes an arduous task living here in Portland, Oregon; although I have definitely lived in worse places. There are many different schools of thought around this topic but one thing for sure: There is a definite physiological adaptation process that happens because of heat training that can really help come race day. I have read some stuff and talked to some experienced runners who have run Western States and I have formulated my own little tactics and style based on suggestions.

The initial stage: First off I started running with extra layers on during some of my runs. I will wear a beanie on my head, a short sleeve, long sleeve, tights, and then a light jacket even if it’s 50 or 60 degrees outside. This sometimes becomes extremely uncomfortable but it initiates this adaptation process. You want to get used to sweating a lot, taking in lots of water, replenishing electrolytes, etc. Your body is burning a lot more calories as it’s trying to cool itself down so getting used to ingesting calories more often is good practice as well. Eventually when the mileage starts dropping a little I start incorporating active and passive heat training via hot yoga and the sauna.

Stage 2: Progressing in a similar manner as adding weekly mileage is an important and safe practice. I started with 20 minutes in 175 degree heat and have worked my way up to an hour. The hot yoga is something to be careful doing as your muscles become extremely loose due to the heat. We as runners are not used to bending and twisting certain ways and it is easy to tweak something this way and, because of this (and time and availability), I have only done this a handful of times. Something that I like to do to utilize the time in the sauna is to do a full body stretch and self-massage my entire body while standing and sitting. I take two or three 20 ounce bottles with me into the sauna and am sure to hydrate early and often. At usually 25 minutes or so I will step out quickly for a core cool down in the shower, and then jump right back in there. Another thing that I like to do is to print out and laminate some reading material such as the Western States 100 course elevation profile, aid stations, crew access points, etc. to help get a logistical plan in place for the big day. Do this multiple days in a row and you’ll notice yourself being able to stay in longer, and it getting a little easier. Then you start increasing time spent in there. Again you want to increase incrementally in a smart manner such as doing 45 minutes three days in a row before jumping up to 55 minutes.


If you run ultras you know that so much of it is mental. Getting mentally prepared is not just something you do the night before the race. It’s something that started for me back in December when I was drawn in the lottery and has been building and growing ever since. I am often thinking about different aspects of the race, visualizing things while doing certain specific runs, and trying to keep stress levels at bay. I have recently started implementing sensory deprivation floats into my recovery/training. Basically you enter a tank that is completely dark and silent and you float on your back on a foot of water that is super concentrated with Epsom salts. Because the water is so concentrated you are so buoyant and are able to just relax. This is a time for me to get centered so to speak and for my body to heal from a lot of the pounding.

Unbreakable: The Western States 100

Unbreakable: The Western States 100, a film by JB Benna.

I also start getting all of the information in order for the race, i.e. race packet, elevation profile, printouts for crew, etc. Having all of this in order helps me feel at ease mentally. The other night I watched the movie “Unbreakable” with a couple friends and had the elevation profile/aid station information out with me while I watched. It helped to get an idea of the course, the condition of the runners in the movie, and the times they passed through certain areas.

Another quirky thing that I will do is after a long or hard effort I will come home and set up my laptop next to the bathtub which is full of ice cold water. Then I type “Western States 100” into YouTube and find a good video to watch while I am soaking. Not only does this help the time go by quicker but it helps me get more of an idea of the course, experiences, stories, inspiration, etc. etc. All of these little things I do help me become mentally prepared and even more excited to run!

A good quote I like is: “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”
-Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner


I’m not going to dive too deeply into diet. Personally I have thrived on a vegan diet for the past three years and I continue to incorporate only a few supplements into my diet such as products from Udo’s Oil (Flora Health). The main thing I want to talk about is diet during racing. I had an experience at Bandera 100k in early 2012 that sort of traumatized me. I was having a stellar race until I ate and drank something at around the 55k mark which sent me into a tizzy of stomach distress. The powder product mix that I used in my bottle (which I learned in hindsight) was too concentrated AND I didn’t practice enough with it while cranking hard during training or racing. Because of this I was forced to relinquish my race and was forced to walking for almost an hour. Lesson learned. The point is that if you are going to be trying certain dietary supplements during race day then you want to practice taking them at race pace not just on your easier runs. Practice taking them when you do your 50k’s or when you are pushing hard on a long run.

With so many awesome races out there, and entry into Western States 100 getting tougher and tougher who knows when the next time I will run this classic race. This could be my only time or I might not run it for a few years to come. That is why this buildup has been so unique and beautiful, and I feel honored to be toeing the line with so many amazing and inspiring runners. See you in Squaw!

For more information on how ultra runner Yassine Diboun has prepared for his upcoming Western States 100 read his companion article “Western States 100 – Preparing for the Dream Run Part 1: Physical Training”.

Western States Course Map Poster credits

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This post was written by:

- who has written 7 posts on Trail Running Club.

Yassine Diboun is a Portland, Oregon based trail ultra runner, personal coach and an adventurer at heart.
• From June 2007 to January 2012 Yassine completed 31 trail ultra races that included an amazing 29 Top 10 finishes, 20 Top 3 finishes and 9 victories.
• In 2008 Yassine was named Western New York Ultra Series Runner of the Year.

Learn more about Yassine Diboun and Animal Athletics at:

Yassine is sponsored by Rudy Project Udo's Oil. Oil the Machime Drymax Sports Socks.

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