First , thank you to Stephanie for allowing me an opportunity to share my passion for healthy living with all of you. My name is Stacy Litke, Health Coach and Holistic Nutrition Expert at Humble Spoon. I also have the unique makeup of being part Redneck and part Hippy. It is this distinct lineage that puts me not only in the ranks of lifeline NASCAR fans, but also has me serving quinoa taco salad and kale chips during my annual Daytona party.
As I began thinking about what information would be most valuable to you, my first thought was “boy, racing sure has changed as a sport”. Years ago, before I could even date, I started watching NASCAR with my grandparents. Despite having a big crush on 1979 rookie of the year, Dale Earnhardt, I also started following Ron Bouchard, a rookie from Massachusetts, because that’s where I lived. To look back at pictures of him, he was stuffed into his racing suit like a sausage. And do you remember? Some of the drivers used to smoke during caution laps, or in victory lane, although I’m sure Winston had something to do with that.
Yep, things have changed. To be competitive today you have to be physically fit. Endurance, energy, and hydration are key.
So how does a racer prepare herself for the challenge of racing? What can be done off the track to improve performance on the track? Think of it from this perspective. When your car is off the track, does it sit and do nothing? Probably not. Most likely it’s getting new filters, plugs, brakes, hoses, and performance upgrades to keep it running smoothly. This is what your body needs too. You can’t just pay attention to your health on race day, you need to keep YOUR machine running in fine condition.
Let’s start with endurance. Exercising your body will condition it for endurance. Working to build muscle strength, particularly your core muscles will help them be conditioned come race day. Flexibility is another key, stretching and even yoga will help to prevent injury from quick reactions on the track. Long, strenuous hikes would be a good choice to build endurance. Single threaded exercise like being on a treadmill for 45 minutes a day will only build one set of muscles. You’ll need a variety of exercises to build different muscle groups and reaction skills. There’s a reason NASCAR racers are always golfing, dirt biking, playing baseball, boxing etc. Keeping your exercise routine challenging and varied will make your heart stronger, your lung capacity fuller and your reflexes quicker.
Energy. That comes from eating a simple, whole foods diet all year long. Not only will your body be able to get the nourishment it needs, you’ll also be able to maintain a healthy weight. This nourishment comes from quality carbs, lean proteins, heart healthy fats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food should be minimally processed to avoid hidden sugars, salts and chemicals that can cause energy sapping inflammation in your system. This can be particularly challenging when you’re on the road going from race to race, but with a little preparation and planning you can still eat healthy while travelling. On race day you’ll want to have a variety of carbs, from fast burning to slow burning. That way you’ll have a more consistent stream of energy to use. A great race day breakfast would be a warm bowl of quinoa flakes with bananas, walnuts and some real maple syrup. Or, how about a couple whole wheat pancakes, with diced apples and peanut butter maple syrup. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Hydration is super important on race day, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t start with a deficit. Drinking water on a regular basis keeps your system lubricated and moving, which keeps toxins from building up. First thing you should do in the morning is have yourself a nice tall class of water, with lemon if you like. This helps rehydrate your body after it went all night without fluid. Keep the water coming throughout the day, and avoid sugary drinks. Personally I’m not a fan of those vitamin touting electrolyte pushing drinks. And don’t get me going on energy drinks. If you want natural electrolytes for recouping after a race or a workout, drink coconut water or make yourself some lemon water with honey and just a little sea salt.
So, here’s a recap for you of the seven things you should do to keep your system in good working order:
1. Exercise regularly to condition your body
2. Vary your exercises to keep all your muscles and reactions tuned
3. Include stretching or yoga in your routine for flexibility
4. Eat whole nourishing foods to provide your body good clean fuel
5. Avoid processed and artificial foods that can clog your filters
6. Stay hydrated every day, not just race day
7. Include natural electrolytes on workout days and race days to replenish your body
If you have any questions, or want to talk more about a six month personalized plan, contact me at Stacy@humblespoon.com.