Something we often neglect (especially us oldies) is our physical fitness for racing.
Let’s face it – unless you’re in Formula One or doing the Le Mans 24 Hour race, you can get away with driving a Formula Vee fuelled only by Big Macs and donuts.
But that’s the danger – you CAN race so long as you can fit into the cockpit, but you won’t be the best that you can be.
If you walk around any amateur racing paddock you will see drivers of all shapes and sizes. Yes, there are some super-fit specimens there, but most of us have lives and stuff going on outside of racing that means we can’t commit to a full training regime and diet. Hell, we even laugh nervously when we chat about about how unfit we are, but we all know we should be putting a lot more into our personal fitness.
Weight is a crucial factor in motor racing, and when you’re racing a 370kg single seater the difference between you being a 68kg active Lightweight boxer and a 100kg post-Christmas lummox will have a huge effect on the performance of your car.
Around the middle of last year I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life – slowly creeping up towards the 14 stone (89kg) mark.
This was all my own fault, as the rule is very simple:
James Cater’s Book Of Dieting: Chapter One –
Eat less and exercise more.
Around July I had a ‘lucky’ break and had a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, which saw me lose almost a stone over a few weeks. I saw this as a golden opportunity to join a gym, make some lifestyle changes, and try and keep it going.
It also helps a massive amount if you have a training partner, and so when The Ryland Centre were offering a free ‘taster session’, my fiance and I went to check the place out and see if we liked it.
We didn’t want to go down the whole personal trainer route, and decided to just do our own thing – once my fitness is back to a certain standard I might review this, but ideally I’d need a trainer who knows how to deal with a racing driver.
I figured the first step for me was to chip away at core strength and get my aerobic fitness up – so started increasing my pace on the treadmill to a fast jog, and taking advantage of their indoor cycle, rowing machine and cross-trainer.
The Ryland Centre have a good variety of machines, so I can switch it up a bit rather than bore myself on the same machines every time, and also use the weight machines and free weights. I will use these more once I’m happier with my overall levels.
That’s another thing about gyms that can be a struggle – you have to drag yourself there for at least a month or two before you start to really see any results, and maybe even start to enjoy it.
After about 7 weeks of going twice per week, I ambled into the section to do some stretches (I know how important flexibility is from my martial arts training) and was absolutely ecstatic to see a punch/kick bag hanging up!
This totally reignited my training, as it’s a piece of kit that I’m good with, plus it gives an amazing workout! I challenge anyone to do 60 seconds punching a bag as hard and fast as they can – it will kill you!
So now my routine is to warm up on a few machines, stretch and hit the bag for a few minutes, then back to the machines for a while before round 2 on the bag! I’m monitoring my heart rate as well as recovery time, and toning up very well, so far
I eat pretty well, generally speaking. I eat a lot of home cooked food (believe it or not I’m actually a pretty good cook, and chase perfection with anything I’m doing in the kitchen) but I’m not denying myself the odd takeaway or anything like that. The key is to control your portion size, and if you know you’re going to cheat and eat snacks between meals then you have to have smaller meals to compensate!
I’m here to enjoy life, so don’t agree with total denial for diet, as it never works. I’m also open to trying new food, and will swap in healthier options as and when I find them.
Also, in those spaces between the Winter rebuild, I’m getting myself up into the hills as often as I can! Even just walking can be tough if you chose the hardest route available in your local hills, and a few hours away from the garage does wonders for your wellbeing and mental health!
In a future blog I may go more into depth with training methods and routines, and even add in a few of the things I eat. This blog is really just the basics, and that doesn’t mean it’s the least important – if you embrace the prinicples here, your diet and training will work, however you specialise and jazz up the finer points.
Have you found anything useful for your training and diet? Let me know in the comments!