12 F1 ways to make your New Year resolutions stick
Struggling to keep your well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions on track? With pre-season testing just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to make like an F1 driver and revive your training programme with some top tips to feel better, get fitter, and prepare yourself for a new year of racing!
A good way to kick-start a healthier new you for 2016 is by drinking more water – for F1 drivers it’s crucial to keep hydrated, especially in the heat of places like Singapore and Malaysia. It’s a good idea to ditch (or at least attempt to reduce) the caffeine intake too, as this reduces hydration, which actually leads to tiredness and a decrease in performance.
2. Get out!
While we may not have the budgets for personalised training camps in sunnier climes for pre-season training, getting some much-needed daylight during the winter months can be a great mood-booster and improve your fitness, too. The increased vitamin D and serotonin will help curb cravings, and a brisk lunchtime walk will help towards your 10,000 steps per day target and counteract the Christmas indulgence – winner!
No, we don’t mean at your desk. Getting a good night’s sleep may seem simple, but developing a good sleeping pattern helps your body recover and gives you better performance during the day. Racing drivers often use their motorhome rooms to recharge with a quick nap before a race to ensure peak performance. And if it’s good enough for them…
4. Fancy a chippy?
It’s easy not to realise the amount of salt and oil in regular processed foods. Why not swap your Friday night chip shop habit for homemade sweet potato fries? Not only will you feel smug but you’ll also feel the benefits in increased energy levels and reduced cravings.
5. Pedal to the metal
And we don’t mean cycling, although that’s good too. Like a racing driver, practice some fast acceleration and sharp left-foot braking under your desk to mobilise your ankles and get the blood pumping (good idea to watch some great on-board quali laps while you’re doing it, too. Yes, we can get pole around Monza like a true champ).
6. Look over your shoulder
Another good way to get moving is making like a racing driver part two, and pretend you’re on the front row in Monaco with an ex-world champion breathing down your neck. Move your head from side to side as if you’re checking your wing mirrors (or just checking yourself out) and it’ll help improve mobility and relieve tension in the head and neck.
7. Pretend the lift is broken
…that way you won’t be tempted to hop in and waste the opportunity to burn a few more calories by taking the stairs. Pretend you’re a driver being chased up the stairs of your motorhome by an over-zealous reporter asking for the umpteenth time “so, are you looking forward to the race today?”
Snacking little and often is a key way that racing drivers keep their blood sugar levels up and maximise performance during a race weekend. Sadly, this doesn’t mean a crème egg on the hour, every hour, but swap your usual sugary break-time treats for bananas, a handful of nuts or an energy bar and you’ll soon lose the tendency for that post-lunch 4pm slump.
9. Get in the zone
What do twenty racing drivers on a starting grid before they get into the car for a race have in common? They ‘get in the zone, man'. Be it listening to music or spot of meditation, stepping out of the hustle and bustle for a moment of quiet can help focus the mind and improve concentration, even if you don’t have a 308km (191-mile) race to drive on a Sunday afternoon!
10. Desk press up
F1 drivers have to work hard to wrestle the steering wheel against the huge G forces they encounter at every grand prix. While our morning commute may not be quite as strenuous, muscle tone in arms is important to build strength and improve fitness – those shopping bags from the January sales are heavy, right? Give yourself a power boost by standing up by your desk and doing push ups against it, keeping your back straight and lowering your chest down until your elbows are at 90 degrees. You’ll be charging for tickets to the gun show in no time.
11. Driver seated position
In an F1 car, drivers are seated low down with their legs at roughly 45 degrees to the body, putting huge pressure through the lower back and lumbar area. Likewise, sitting at desks hunched over computers puts strain through the spine and shoulders, and can lead to greater risk of injury. Improve your posture and build up core strength by sitting up straight in your chair, and slowly pump your arms backwards and forwards to mobilise the spine and work the shoulders, biceps and triceps. We find making car engine noises while you’re doing it really helps, too.
12. Chair squat
Increase your core and lower body strength and flexibility from your desk by squatting every time you get out of your chair. Keep your weight through your heels and try to get as low as possible, raising your arms at the same time for balance. You may look silly, but your colleagues/family/housemates will all be jealous when you have thighs of steel like an F1 driver. Have a competition and set up your very own F1-style championship leaderboard. He/she who squats the lowest and longest, wins!
Thanks to Simon Reynolds, David Harvey and Clayton Green for their fitness and nutritional wisdom for this piece, and to our partner Technogym, equipment supplier to McLaren’s Fitness and Wellbeing Centre.