I am currently sat at the gym… okay were going to be honest in this one… laid down on the floor at the gym. Out of breath. It is now officially the month were race season is kicking off and I have procrastinated and distracted myself to the point where I woke up this morning and realised that I am roughly 3 months too late, to get back in shape. A moment I am sure at least most of us will have come across in our time.
I have not even started yet but I feel like I am out of time. Yep, sounds about right. So, I am here, laying down at the gym trying to remember that once upon a time I could do this. Its making me contemplate this up and coming season. How on earth did I do this? It is not rhetorical, I really want to know.
Race season is no joke, it can take its toll on you both mentally and physically. Everyone I know says they understand what is included in the race weekends but its also the prep work to get there, the aftermath of arriving home. But okay, yes the weekends at the circuits are some of the hardest I have ever had. Physically you walk around 20,000 steps a day on average, you eat nothing and drink… gin, damn this honesty. Its rough, so this year I am making a conscious effort to be prepared as much as I can before we go racing. Food, working out, actually reading a map before leaving home, and I think I might give the gin a miss…might! I think it will go towards my mental health. It is very stressful at race weekends and it is not all parties and fun like it is perceived.
Mental health is a big issue at the moment and I don’t think it is addressed enough within the Motorsports world. But why not? That is my mantra in life, why not? So lets talk.
My fear in motorsports has nothing to do with getting hurt, it is mostly about messing up. I am someone who tries very hard in everything that I do, so messing up is my worse nightmare. I worry it will affect how I am perceived by others and effect the whole team. If I do something wrong, where does the domino trail end? Sounds silly?… most likely. But if you have ever been lucky enough to become apart of a paddock where people know you, you come to realise the pressure you build up in your head, doesn’t exist. I learnt the hard way to pop the bubble of dread and concern, and realise that there are others out there that think the same way.
I don’t race, but I have enough going on that I understand the extreme pressure the drivers go through. I feel like I am in the car with them at times I swear. When something goes awry it is hard not to retreat into yourself, but one good thing is the paddock. No matter what championship you’re in, it always feels like a family. The team mates you have will be there, more than some of your real family. I found a coping mechanism in talking to people. Even if it is not about what your brain won’t shut up about, it still helps to feel like there is open communication. If you don’t know where you are, what your doing, or what went wrong, go get some lunch and have a chat to the person in the next awing.
As I say I don’t race, but I have never seen so many people bond over a mutual interest.
I am however a very competitive person, but I don’t think the ‘Winning is Life’ culture belongs in the paddock. Winning is fun but it is all you concentrate on it builds a bad atmosphere and it is all consuming. The way forward should be ‘Racing is Life’, it promotes racing and family and teams, not all about one person. It can take the pressure off you. I have walked around enough paddocks to notice the people chatting are not always on about who won, its more about taking part.
So, I am going to get off this floor, go home and come back tomorrow as one thing I have come to remember is that it doesn’t ever end. I will take it one step at a time. Fingers crossed this will turn into me running, but for now I just hope that there are more people that can take these racing weekends as a way of escaping the stress, not adding to it.