What Works for Me

If you have any doubt that race car driv­ers are se­ri­ous ath­letes, just hear what NASCAR champ Kurt Busch does to stay ahead of the pack.

Men's Journal - - CONTENTS - as told to MARJORIE KORN

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on run­ning, kayak­ing, yoga, med­i­ta­tion, and ev­ery­thing else he does to stay ahead of the pack.

Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how phys­i­cally de­mand­ing it is to drive race cars. Three hours of en­dur­ing G-forces, re­act­ing to other driv­ers at 200 mph, and talk­ing to my team are all in a day’s work. You’re in one po­si­tion in a car that can get up to 135 de­grees. I have a de­vice that pumps fresh, cool air into my hel­met. I imag­ine my body is in a hot tub and my head’s in the cool au­tumn air.

Mo­tor­ing

My rou­tine keeps me per­form­ing at the high­est level: eight hours of sleep, ex­er­cis­ing daily, clean eat­ing, race team meet­ings, pit stop strat­egy, re­view­ing video. Strength train­ing, es­pe­cially my up­per body, is cru­cial. And so is prac­tic­ing be­ing in­tensely, phys­i­cally fo­cused for hours. The key for me is repet­i­tive car­dio: run­ning, bik­ing, step ma­chine, kayak­ing on the lake out­side my house. That plus Pilates, yoga, bal­ance work, stretch­ing—what­ever I can do to make my­self bet­ter. Med­i­ta­tion is prob­a­bly the next step. I’m open to any­thing.

Run­ning Hot

The night be­fore a race, I eat a steak or salmon and some pasta. A few hours be­fore start, I’ll have a piece of fruit. And right be­fore, I eat my lucky turkey sand­wich. It’s plain and sim­ple, and turkey kind of calms you down. Also some Fri­tos for the salt. Elec­trolytes are im­por­tant for hy­dra­tion. In the car, I don’t have en­ergy drinks or food. Noth­ing to dis­tract me. Just wa­ter.

Find­ing My Groove

My wife, Ash­ley, is a pro­fes­sional polo player. When she’s prac­tic­ing, I run laps around the polo field. I run four laps, coun­ter­clock­wise, like in NASCAR. I en­vi­sion the track I’ll drive in my up­com­ing race. This is turn two, turn three. I feel the as­phalt un­der­neath me, and I’m fo­cused.

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