“Racing drivers aren’t athletes, all they do is sit there whilst the car does all the work.”
Tell that to a racing driver. Tell that to the human who has to sit in 60°C heat for as much as three hours at a time, whilst simultaneously clenching their core, legs and neck to fight against the cornering forces that make their body feel as much as three times heavier than normal. All of this whilst wearing protection that would give ski clothing good competition for body heat retention, and also having to lug around another 2.5 kilograms wrapped around their head. Alongside this skeletal torture, it is expected of you to be able to think clearly and make hundreds of split-second decisions per lap. Oh, and this happens at speeds up towards 200 miles per hour. Believe it or not, racing is a physical and mental endeavour. Racing drivers really are athletes.
As a result, fitness becomes a large differentiator between drivers especially in the lower echelons of motorsport. Fitness is such an important factor to a racing drivers’ results on circuit that almost every top-level driver will have a full-time personal trainer. To clarify, I’m not talking about some bloke working at your local gym who’s on call whenever you need him. I’m talking about 24/7 by-your-side service. During the season Formula One drivers will see their personal trainers more than they’ll see their families.
So how am I planning to introduce aggressive levels of fitness training into my everyday life? The short answer is: I’m not. Not yet, at least.
Whilst I have devised a fitness plan for myself, this aforementioned plan does not include rushing out to buy a long-term gym membership as soon as I wake up in the morning. This is due to a number of reasons, but mostly because of how busy gyms historically become during the first few weeks of January. Not immediately ‘hitting the gym’ and ‘pumping iron’ five times a week also allows me to better appreciate the difference in performance levels between a complete lack of fitness, a basic level of fitness work and a high-intensity regime.
So, what exactly do I have in mind? The prime focus will be to work on my core. Having a strong core will ensure that, when cornering at high speed, my body is more stable within the seat and I can focus on picking my lines in and out of the turn rather than concentrating on keeping myself from sliding out of the car. The core is also one of the easiest muscle groups to work on at home, as the use of weights is not required for the majority of exercises.
My secondary training focus will be flexibility. Increased flexibility is key for athletes as it aids injury prevention and recovery due, in part, to the absence of knots within the muscles. Knots can also interfere with muscular coordination, which is vital for driving performance. For these reasons, yoga is extremely popular and widely utilised within the racing community. Therefore, yoga is to become my method of choice for contortion training.
Having disclosed this weeks’ personal challenge it’s now my job to stick with it, all in aid of the #RacingGrind. Alongside the new exercise regime this coming week is an exciting one for myself, as I will be making an appearance at the Autosport International Show on Thursday, January 9th. It is an event I have been planning to visit for a couple years, not through my newfound calling as a blogger but purely as a car fan. It should be a brilliant opportunity to meet a tonne of individuals and brands that work in the automotive sector, and potentially could even be perfect setting to find myself a race seat! I guess we’ll just have to keep watching this space…
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