How healthy is Giedo van der Garde?
by Eduard Schaepman, on 18 Mar 2021
This week, former Formula 1 racing driver Guido van der Garde talks all about his health and motorsport, and what you need to do to be fit enough to drive a Formula 1 car. For those who thought motor racing wasn't a sport are sorely mistaken: many racing drivers have terribly muscular necks for a reason, and are extremely fit. Of course, we also talk about nutrition, sleep, and everything else that comes with health.
Karting & Championships
Guido grew up in a loving family in Rhenen. When he was 9 years old, his father decided he wanted to do something with his son and took him to the karting track in Driebergen. After the first metres he was sold, and a year later he got his first kart. Even then, he trained 2-3 times a week, joined in compettitions and at the age of 12 he was the Dutch champion. The following year, he raced the European Championship in Portugal, where he did not win due to a broken engine, but he did stand out and was offered his first factory contract. Another 5 years later - at 17 - he won the world championship. Soon it became clear that Guido had real talent, and he was accepted in the Renault Driver Development, the training programme for young drivers of the Renault Formula 1 team. He was also supported by the Dutch motorsport federation KNAF and Jos Verstappen.
Strong neck muscles of vital importance
This means training for motorsport, of which nutrition and training are a major part. After all, excess weight makes you go slower, so racing drivers make sure they carry as few extra kilos as possible. Equally important is that you are fit as a fiddle. Although most people still believe that, as a racing driver, all you have to do is put your foot down and steer, driving a Formula 1, 2 or 3 car is very different from our ‘shopping trolleys’ that don't go any faster than 220km. In the run-up to the season, in January, February and March, Guido trained twice a day: in the morning an hour and in the afternoon 1.5 hours, both strength and cardio combined. He explains why: the G-force (gravitational force) is extremely high in motor sports. In F1, the driver has to deal with 5.5-6G dozens of times, which is about 25-30 kg. In comparison, our shopping trolleys may reach 1-1.5G when going through a bend at 220km. Many training sessions are therefore aimed at strengthening the neck, and there is also a lot of pressure on the shoulders and arms. So there is a lot more to it than 'just steer and go'.
3-4% fitter in the run-up to the season
In the run-up to the season a physiotherapist and personal trainer join the team, and in the first three months of the year the boys do everything they can to become 3-4% fitter than the year before. The Instagram accounts of himself and other famous racing drivers (fun fact that Guido was there when Jos Verstappen put son Max in a kart for the first time at the age of 4), are also full of photos of the strength training, cardio sessions and we also see the special way in which the neck is trained. In 2015, Guido ended his Formula 1 career and switched to endurance racing, in which races last at least four hours: a different kind of driving, but one that requires just as much fitness.
Real estate man
Unfortunately, no contracts were offered, so Guido decided to look for something else. By coincidence, he found out how interesting the real estate world is. Together with his wife Denise Boekhoorn, who is an interior designer (and indeed, who has also furnished a number of beautiful locations at Tribes), he bought a house and completely refurbished it. When they put it up for sale, it turned out that they could sell it well, and Guido saw an opportunity. From then on, he started taking on similar projects in and around Amsterdam, and one of his goals as an entrepreneur is to become a well-known figure in the real estate world. But the urge to race kept itching, and he got back in the car. He came into contact with Frits van Eerd, the big boss of Jumbo, and they decided to drive together. And with success: this year they are going to compete in the World Endurance Championship, 5 races in which they will alternate.
Health 8.5 and happiness 9
To support this, he remains sporty: he exercises six days a week for 1.5 hours. From cycling to running and strength training: all the ingredients. He pays close attention to his diet, and 2-3 weeks before a race, no alcohol, healthy food and even harder training. We also find out about his 'guilty pleasure', although he calls it an addiction: M&Ms. He even admits that after a bad race, he'll eat one of those yellow bags in one go. Oh well, we all have something. His health gets an 8.5, his happiness a 9. Because at the moment he feels happier than ever, and the reason is clear: that little 2-year old boy that he mentions and that makes him shine. His tip: keep moving, even if it's just by walking. It will make you happier and fitter, but make sure you keep up the challenge.
Watch the entire episode this afternoon on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLTsjbI2Zjcxwo8Tyc_7_FQ?app=desktop or listen to the podcast on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/72j2FSBuqOenNtGqY6KRXh?si=zlnYmYdzTmqQtUF5J3GUCA