With finely tuned cars that hug the racetrack at up to 200 miles per hour, the breathless seconds that determine the final standings in a NASCAR race often come down to the driver and crew’s physical abilities. Races can last 4-5 hours or more, with in-car temperatures skyrocketing and drivers already under enormous pressure. Meanwhile on Pit Road, pit crews work vigilantly during races to keep their team’s car ready to perform. Theirs are demanding jobs that require skill, dexterity and endurance, and physical fitness has become more of an important factor than ever when it comes to who ends up in Victory Lane.
Ryan Von Rueden is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kasey Kahne Racing and also trains NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. Besides his daily workouts and frequent runs with Kasey and the racing team, he’s a big runner himself. With the October 11 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway just around the corner, Run Charlotte asked Ryan for his top training tips when it comes to running.
Ryan’s Top Tips:
1. Speed work is important for faster times and better running economy and should be part of your training. It gives you that extra edge just when you need to push through something that is really physically difficult, which is why we place a lot of emphasis on speed work at Kasey Kahne Racing.
2. Add in recovery runs, which are slower-paced runs to get your legs back. If you keep breaking your body down with tough runs it can’t heal and get stronger.
3. Focus on controlling your breathing during runs to prevent hyperventilation. Our drivers and pit crew are in tense situations all the time physically and mentally and use that controlled breathing to get their jobs done efficiently under pressure.
4. After an intense running workout, get carbohydrates and protein into your body as soon as you can to aid in muscle and blood glycogen restoration. I always recommend chocolate milk for recovery because it rehydrates you and provides the calories, carbohydrates and proteins in a way your body can metabolize.
5. Get plenty of sleep. During sleep a lot of things happen in your body that aid in recovery and you don’t want to interrupt that cycle. Without sleep, cortisol (the stress hormone) can increase. We travel so much for races; get up early and get home late and it can be tough to do, but a full night’s rest is very important.
If you’re feeling inspired for a little speed by foot or by race car, here’s your chance to experience both: The 2014 Kasey Kahne Foundation Five Kahne 5K presented by Great Clips takes place from the NASCAR Hall of Fame Sunday, October 12 at 10 a.m.
Ryan Von Rueden C.S.C.S.is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kasey Kahne and Kasey Kahne Racing. He has been training in the motorsports industry since 2006. Over the course of Ryan’s career he has worked with professional race car drivers in NASCAR, Indy Car, NHRA, Indy Lights, World of Outlaws, All Stars, and USAC. Ryan has also worked with traditional athletes at the college, high school and middle school level.
Prior to becoming a strength and conditioning coach, Ryan obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where he also played football. After his football career, he coached football, basketball and track at the varsity level for high school as well as AAU.