François D’Haene: Top 5 Lessons We Can Learn from Him

French ultra-marathoner legend François D’Haene discusses the life lessons he learned during his trail running. This talented trail runner reveals all his wisdom in an interview on the Rich Roll Podcast. He shares his experiences on “mountain running” and his approaches to trail running events.

This elite athlete won the Ultra-Trail de Mount Blanc in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2021, amongst other trail running event wins. He is one of the best ultra-marathoners in the world, winning various 100-mile events. Continue on for François D’Haene: Top 5 Lessons We Can Learn from Him!

1. A Performance Mindset is Based on a Certain Approach to Life

During an interview with François D’Haene, he comments that his lifestyle has contributed to his wins on various occasions. He thinks many cultures adopt the attitude “it would be nice to win”, but they don’t consider that winning is the consequence of the effort put into training.

François D’Haene realizes several factors determine if someone can compete or win an event. He says that runners’ mindsets often affect their ability to compete in long-distance trail running. Some of those mindsets include mental states, approaches, and training.

Yet François says he sees many runners enjoying their training and glad to be in the mountains. He recognizes this as a “winning mindset” approach, contributing to a positive running routine. He shows gratitude for trail running as it is a sport he admires. His outlook makes him want to finish each race he endures.

2. Focusing on the Track Helps to Compete

Since François D’Haene’s first race, he has focused on his love of running during events. He often sees other runners suffering from “runner’s burnout” and wants to focus on his enjoyment of the sport. François says he wants to continue to love his favourite sport in 5 or 10 years, as he’d like to enjoy running with his children.

But he said his key to winning races is being passionate about the sport. At the start line of his race, he feels excitement, and it spurs him on. When he feels so excited, he is grateful for all the training and preparation he has completed for the race.

3. Training and Preparation Occur Long Before an Event

François D’Haene trains specifically for each race. For his race, Hardrock, the essential preparation for the event was altitude training. While on other events, he focuses more on distance training. During these training sessions, François aims to compete against himself for “personal bests”. He prepares himself mentally for all races by asking himself what he may need for each competition and what is important.

While François plans his training and considers the weather conditions when training for future races. As he prepares for any events, he plans them with his family. François recognizes that keeping to training schedules and pre-planning his running routines helps tremendously in his event preparation.

4. It Helps to Prepare for Various Conditions

François D’Haene mentions that during his training, he can often feel tired. Yet he understands he will benefit from training while he is tired, as, after 20 hours of running for an event, he will become fatigued.

François says if he experiences tiredness or overeating the night before a training run, he continues with his running. He recognizes that during a trail running event, he may encounter several sensations previously felt in his training. He understands that many circumstances could interfere with his race, but he knows all his training will help him cope.

Trail runners can prepare for everything, but they also need to adapt to all conditions that can come up in trail events. François says those “perfect” training sessions don’t often happen. He admits he could wait as long as a week for his next training run if he kept waiting for the perfect conditions to run!

Therefore, this elite athlete continues to train regardless of how tired, hungry, or full he may feel. As François’ body remembers how he felt during various previous running conditions, this allows him to adapt far more easily to each event.

5. Balance is the Greatest Pursuit in Distance Running

François says he won’t tell people to “drink wine before a race” but thinks people sometimes put too many “constraints” on their diet. He suggests that balance is vital to maintaining longevity in anyone’s running lifestyle. While some people admit they enjoy wine but won’t drink wine six months before a race, François wonders if they can continue that lifestyle for twenty years or so.

Balance is a disciplined act that people can choose to follow. While François admits everyone is different, he believes people’s lives should be balanced with what they think, feel and love. He considers longevity as almost a ‘consequence’ of lifestyle choices and habits. The balance in François D’Haene’s lifestyle allows him to continue thinking about future running plans.

Despite François D’Haene’s impressive trail running wins, he remains a calm and ‘down-to-earth’ man. The wisdom he has gained stems from his overwhelming love for running. His applied principles have produced the outcome of his disciplined lifestyle.

While his body has endured the pains and pleasures of running, he has set boundaries for his training schedules. He knows that training doesn’t go as planned on some days. In François’ unplanned training conditions, he turns any preparation into knowledge.

François uses the knowledge he has has gained to tackle the most challenging trails, which in turn, continues to fuel his mind and body. Can difficult situations create fresh knowledge and new mindsets? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Jeannie White

Jeannie White lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her lifelong passion is running and she enjoys it as an endurance sport. Her running interests began in her teenage years, and she entered community events. Jeannie is interested in learning about health and realizes the particular importance of nutrition as she experienced health implications as a child. As her parents live on farms, she understands the benefits of sound nutrition!

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