Staying fit by improvising.
By Terri Hundertmark
Staying fit is as challenging to me as racing. It seems that travel, diet
and regular exercise are oxymorons. A race car driver's lifestyle is similar
to that of a salesman's. We are constantly traveling, late night dinners,
red-eye flights, and a different hotel and city every
night. We get up early, at the track all day and leave as the sun is
setting. This means late dinners and struggling to find somewhere to work
out. As a traveler, it is necessary to improvise.
As a race car driver, staying fit is important. Upper body strength,
muscular fitness and muscular endurance are the most important physical
features of a race car driver. Upper body and hand strength is important
because a driver's body is put through a vigorous pounding from the g-force
of the car. Tired muscles also tend to make you lose concentration. If you
lose concentration, you lose time or worse, you could end up in the wall.
During a race, a driver's heart beat stays at a high rate during the race.
The driver must be able to maintain this high rate, if they cannot, the
driver's mind begins to loose concentration. Concentration is one of the
most important mental abilities of a driver.
Training while traveling can be done but it takes dedication and desire. I
find running is the easiest way for me to stay fit cardiovascurally and easy
to accomplish on the road. If you are in an area that you can't or don't
feel comfortable running, run the stairs. Make an outing of your workout.
By keeping it interesting, it is more likely that you will give your workout
a hundred percent! Go for a hike, mountain bike ride or roller blade in the
Strength training is more difficult but it can be accomplished by being
creative and using what is available in the environment. Simple sit-ups,
push-ups and stretches can be accomplished anywhere, in your living room,
hotel room, even on the beach.
Maintaining a diet is also hard while traveling. Junk food is easy and very
tempting but necessary to resist. It is hard to maintain a high energy level
on minimal meals so I often eat energy bars through out the day. Make sure
you research the energy bar and understand fat and calorie content in each
bar to insure that you aren't over eating. Just because it is sold at the
Health Food store and it says healthy, doesn't mean that it is. I use
Mannatech Nutritional Supplements. They have products designed to help
support athletic performance by providing nutrients to support the body's natural physiology prior to a workout or
athletic event. They have supplements that aid the body's natural energy
production during a workout or athletic event. They also support the body's
natural recovery process after a workout or athletic event.
As for meals, I try to eat pasta and vegetables with a light tomato sauce
the night before a race. For race day I tend to eat fruit and energy bars. I
generally can't eat a meal through the day. I get very nervous and food
tends to make me nauseous. I try to drink lots of water and try to stay
hydrated, it tends to be very hot in the car (especially with my 3-layer
fire suit on to protect me).
During the 2000 Women's Global GT Race at Texas our car reached 160 degrees
inside. Texas was experiencing a heat wave and the constant 110+ degree
days were very taxing on our minds and bodies. Some women competed with
"Cool Suits". A suit that is designed with refrigerant running through it.
I had a big water bladder filled with ice stuffed in my suit.
As an athlete
or just enthusiast, racing cars requires concentration to stay
safe and be fast. So stay cool, fit, fueled and focused!