Share a part of the life of our consultants by discovering their hobbies! This month, let's talk about Boudjema Debbah (d²X Lyon) and his passion for trail running.
(Credits: Boudjema Debbah, 2020)
What is your double life?
I dedicate a lot of my spare time to outdoor sports, especially running. But I had never run competitively before I started trail running.
For those who don't know this sport, trail running can be practiced alone or in a team, outdoors only. Moreover, trail running is not only possible in the mountains, but the uneven ground and the difference in altitude are part of this sport! Also, in trail running, you don't just run, when climbing you alternate walking and running. Sometimes you use walking sticks or you push on your legs with your arms in the steepest sections (>25%).
When and how did you start?
When I was 10 years old, I discovered cross-country skiing and soccer (one individual sport and another collective one), but I discovered that the mountains and sports had a very particular effect on my well-being. Well, living in the Alps helped a lot, but I was always looking for the comfort and the peace of mind that I found in sport. I also had the chance to practice many other sports. Some of them have remained anchored more than ever (water polo, judo, ...), then in 2016, I discovered trail running. And what a great discovery!
As in many other fields, it is first an encounter: a place, people, and then experimentation. So in 2016, following a hike in the mountains, where I saw people running on rather demanding parts of the course, I wanted to know more about this sport and it immediately attracted me...
So I asked around, and I quickly understood that trail running was going to shake me up and take me out of my comfort zone. I was only vaguely familiar with this environment until now, it wasn't just a matter of putting on a pair of running shoes and going up the hill. I realized very quickly that preparation, technique and equipment were required.
I started by connecting with a local team and adopting a program throughout this first year of practice, without participating in races. Then I did some trail training courses of 2 to 3 days in the mountains.
What do you like about this passion?
First of all, it is a sport a little different from the others in that it can seem extreme, and very often it is an adventure (especially in its ultra version), but it remains accessible to all. Then, like many sports, it requires a regular practice to progress and thus to participate in races to measure yourself against others, but especially... against yourself.
And finally, the notion of proximity with nature is important. The absolute respect of the environment is always highlighted so that the passage of the runners has a reduced impact on nature. In the mountains, or in the middle of the forest, nature welcomes you without asking for anything in return, but these are places that must be respected.
And in your daily life, how does trail running fit in?
Until the beginning of 2020, I had found a balance between the practice of this sport (training, races, recovery) and my professional activity. I was taking my equipment everywhere with me during my professional travels (as far as Russia... !!).
Then with the sanitary measures linked to Covid-19, I had to slow down a bit, or even stop my practice. But I still continued running, and then, with the easing of sanitary restrictions, I returned to the trails in forests and mountains. This balance is almost back, even if the current context is a bit complicated to follow a 100% training program (especially since I am currently living between two cities).
Anyway, I remain optimistic and start thinking about a new goal. I'm thinking about preparing for an ultra in 2022 (~149km, 11,400m of positive elevation gain, the famous D+!).
Have you acquired skills that you use in your professional life?
Many soft skills can be acquired through this sport. First of all, I would refer to self-knowledge and confidence in one's abilities. These are particularly important points in trail running, and that we find in professional life. I will add that several values are conveyed through this sport, and these are often carried/shared by companies, such as respect, inclusion, perseverance, humility, etc.
With this sport, you quickly learn to surpass yourself in difficult situations, and once you have crossed the finish line (you are a finisher!), you learn from the intense experience you have just lived. Then, you have to get motivated for the next adventure.
I like to say that by running, you get the taste of the effort. The trail can be ungrateful but it knows how to reward the kilometers covered in training, and so we know that there are different stages to reach an objective.
Finally, you learn about yourself, you learn about the paths ("technical" versus "rolling"), and in the end you are much better able to deal with situations that can sometimes be demanding and complex thanks to this acquired knowledge. We find this type of pattern in business: learning to better understand the bridges between situations and experiences.
Thank you Boudjema for answering our questions!