Lessons learned: fitness part 2
Continuing with the fitness topic, here are a few other considerations.
We spend a lot of money trying to make our cars lighter: wheels, carbon fiber parts, removing trim, lexan windows… but we rarely think about the driver. I remember a few years ago, Joe Foster spent some time talking to our Mazda group back when he was driving the RX-8 with Patrick Dempsey. He was telling us how meticulous they were with car maintenance and how they focus on things like light weight lug nuts… said “every single gram counts”. He also mentioned that he had started a new workout routine and a new diet with the purpose of shedding some weight. Joe is of average height but he looked pretty lean, as most drivers do, so we asked him why. He said: “It’s cheaper for me to lose 10 lbs than to make the car 10 lbs lighter.” That is some serious dedication to your craft.
This is something I have struggled with for years. I used to weigh 180 lbs when I was in high school, 20 years ago… for the last 4 years I haven’t been able to get under 235 lbs! My fat % isn’t very high, and even though I’m not lifting weights my body just gains a lot of muscle. I’m constantly looking for ways to get rid of it and I haven’t had much success. I’ve been working out at Orange Theory, getting support and encouragement from my coaches. After looking into what other drivers like Montoya, Ashley Freiberg and Katherine Legge do to stay fit , ended up getting a bicycle and ride whenever I can. I have seen a positive change in the last 7 months; I have more endurance, I don’t run out of breath (as much), I lost 15 lbs and some fat but still can’t lose more weight.
My goal is to get down to 200 lbs, quite ambitious but it’s the one thing I’m focusing on since I’ve put driving on hold. Trying to be a responsible adult; paying off debt (because racecar), building a stronger retirement fund and saving up for a house (adulting sucks). I’m also considering switching to karts, that makes weight a bigger issue to consider.
I’m currently tracking everything I eat with the MyFitnessPal app, which also helps you track your protein, carb and fat intake based on what you eat. If you want to start making changes to your diet, I recommend The Zone Diet, it worked very well for me and helped me eat better overall. I still enjoy a burger or pizza every now and then, but I don’t feel bad about it.
Bottom line is, invest in yourself before you invest in the car. Driver development is more important than car development (more on this topic on posts to come). It helps you be a better driver, and it provides a better quality of life.
Aside from all the positive effects of proper hydration in your everyday life, this should be an important part of your routine when you’re at an event. It’s easy to get carried away and forget about staying hydrated, if you don’t then your body won’t be able to perform 100%. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water, Gatorade or other power drinks are tempting but they contain too much sugar that can throw off your insulin levels.
Just as it’s important to breathe properly to make sure your brain has enough oxygen, it’s also important for your brain to be hydrated. Most of the time temperatures are high throughout an event weekend, and it’s worse inside the car. We all know the conditions are harsh, so make sure you’re prepared to deal with them.
This does mean more trips to the bathroom, so plan accordingly.
Most of the time food from the concession stands is good, but it’s not very healthy. I found that bringing my own food is more convenient. I make sure I have a good breakfast wherever I’m staying, I bring lunch and 3 snacks: 1 for mid morning, 1 for mid afternoon and 1 for the drive back. I also make sure that the food I bring is light; fresh fruit, sandwiches, tuna salad, etc. Why? Well, it reduces the chance of having an upset stomach, and other surprises…
Some pro drivers have a routine that starts a week before an event, they have a specific way to eat and stay hydrated. This allows their body to adjust to a schedule, this way their cells are properly hydrated and they won’t have to deal with bathroom breaks when they know they’re going to be in the car. Pissing in the seat is somewhat acceptable during endurance races, drivers deal with it but taking a dump is certainly not. Having a routine will greatly reduce the chances of you needing to do something at the wrong time.
I learned a valuable lesson the hard way: don’t have Chipotle for dinner the night before an autox. That event didn’t go well. I don’t have a strict routine before an event, but I do stay away from heavy foods, like Chipotle, or trying something new.
The only thing that is mandatory after an event at Mid Ohio is to have dinner at Los Jarritos in Lexington. Mexican food and margaritas with friends is the best way to end a racing weekend. If you’re at an event at VIR then go to Los Tres Magueyes, the margaritas are insane…
There are a lot of things to consider, the easiest way to deal with them is to make it a part of your daily life. Once it becomes part of your routine, making small changes when you’re at an event is much simpler than improvising or not doing something.
Eat well (most of the time), exercise as much as you can (always take time to rest), drink lots of water (know where the bathroom is at all times) and breathe.