The internal and outputs of the driver’s hydration – NASCAR Talk

Fans of the Nashville Superspeedway may find it difficult to cool off at temperatures expected in the 1980s. But for NASCAR drivers, staying calm is just another part of their weekly training routine. Every driver has a slightly different approach.

“I’m weak,” said Todd Gilliland, “I’ve been wearing (a cool shirt) everywhere since the beginning of the year and I have a great box.”

Daniel Hamrick told SiriusXM’s The Morning Drive that part of his training included playing golf in the heat.

SCORCHER IN NESHVILLE: A bunch of drivers battle heat week

You will hear all kinds of strategies: cool shirts, cool boxes, ice bags, water bottles, exercise in the heat, saunas … some drivers even have personalized hydration programs.

An entire hydration program sounds redundant. David Ferguson, an associate professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University, assures me that’s not the case. Proper hydration gives drivers an advantage in productivity.

Credit: Michigan State University

You may be wondering how a doctor of science. – the author of academic articles such as “Vivo-morpholinos induces a transient knockdown of proteins associated with physical activity” – becomes an authority on the hydration of race car drivers.

For Ferguson, it was a series of coincidences. The first was to watch a NASCAR competition on television. Jeff Gordon’s debut made him want to drive race cars. Except…

“I was generally too old and too poor,” Ferguson said. “At 18, I decided that I would go to medical school and become a surgeon. Then I can afford my race cars later in life. ”

He attended a runway in Las Vegas where the temperature rose to 116 ° F. Ferguson added the driver, who was the second fastest of the day.

The driver asked, “What are you talking about?” Ferguson said, “There are three cars in front of me.” He was so dehydrated that he could actually see three times.

Ferguson wondered why, with all the effort involved in racing car engineering, no one designed drivers. He holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. He finished just in time for the recession in 2008 to eliminate his first job in motorsport before even starting it.

So Ferguson returned to school and won a doctorate from Texas A&M. The state of Michigan hired him to monitor how early-stage nutrition affects cardiovascular development. But when he arrived, the construction of his lab was behind schedule.

This gave him time to pursue his other research interest: motor sports.

The dangers of dehydration

Your main body temperature is the temperature of your internal organs. They prefer to operate at about 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 ° F), but can handle an increase of about one degree Celsius – about 1.8 degrees Celsius. Ferguson measures his core body temperature with a pill that the driver swallows. The pill sends the readings to the main temperature via a Bluetooth signal.

A rise in core temperature makes your body sweat. The liquid on your skin evaporates, distracting heat.

Sweat comes from the fluid in the cells of your vascular system. When you lose fluid, Ferguson said, “it’s like engine oil. Bad things will happen. “

These bad things start with thirst – the first sign that you are dehydrated. Because you have little fluid, your body cannot produce enough sweat to cool down. If you do not refill fluids, your temperature will continue to rise.

“So 38.5 ° C (101.3 ° F) is ‘I’m thirsty, I have a headache,'” Ferguson said. “And then 39 ° C (102.2 ° F) is ‘kind of dizzy, kind of confused.'” Muscle cramps or fatigue.

Once your body realizes that sweating doesn’t cool you down, it moves on to trying not to generate more heat. This means excluding any function of the body that is not essential for survival. You may faint.

The real danger begins if your temperature continues to rise.

“If your core temperature reaches about 41 ° C (105.8 F),” says Ferguson, “your body actually thinks you have a really bad virus.”

The body generates heat because heat kills viruses. That’s why you have a fever when you get the flu.

Now your temperature is rising – exponentially.

“You’re going to get 45 ° C (113 ° F) very quickly,” Ferguson said, “and we need to be in the emergency room. Now. “

In addition to monitoring basal body temperature, Ferguson quantified hydration by testing the specific weight of the driver’s urine. This is a quantitative analogue of determining the level of hydration by looking at the color of your urine.

A special patch collects the driver’s sweat because everyone sweats differently. Measuring the concentration of ions in sweat tells Ferguson how much electrolyte the driver loses. And, of course, the weighing of the pilot before and after the race determines the net fluid loss.

Hydration programs

Hydration is extremely important for race car drivers, as they work in enclosed, hot spaces where safety equipment covers every square inch of skin. They are often so focused on racing that they may not even realize they are dehydrated.

Ferguson recommended that pilots drink 10 milliliters of water per kilogram of body weight two hours before the race. That’s approximately two teaspoons for every pound of weight. A 150-pound driver will fill his pre-race hydration bottle with 20.5 ounces of water or a sports drink formulated to improve hydration.

But the driver did not finish when he got in the car. Most drivers drink from a water bottle or from a drinking system under consideration or during a pit.

“They’ll grab the straw, sip, sip, sip, sip,” Ferguson said. “You get fluid. It’s better than nothing. But it actually dilates the stomach and slows the flow of water. You don’t really get the benefits of filling out. “

Proper hydration in the car requires the driver to constantly replenish fluids. This means a system to drink in the helmet and get in the habit of using it during the race.

“We’ll tell you to drink at key intervals,” Ferguson said. ”

After the race, the pilot must repeat the hydration before the race, even if he is not thirsty.

“You can’t overhydrate,” Ferguson said, “you’re just going to pee.”

Moisturize early and often

I never understood why drivers start hydrating days before the race. The water, tested on Thursday, has long since disappeared by Sunday.

“If they start to become dehydrated,” Ferguson explained, “they will release antidiuretic hormones. All of these hormones try to retain water. So when you give them water, they will actually swell and feel uncomfortable. “

This is the physiological reason to start long before you reach the track. But there is also a psychological reason. Maintaining awareness of water intake helps the driver to build positive hydration habits. This is especially important for the next generation car.

“It’s definitely going to be hot,” said Alex Bowman, “but I think we’re all training for that and we’re all looking forward to it.” Cup racing in the summer is a very uncomfortable environment, and the next generation car has made this environment much more uncomfortable, but you just have to keep training. I think these things pay off and I hope I’m on the right side of it. “

The question of urination

No discussion of driver hydration can be considered complete without talking about the fact that drivers have to pee in the car during a race.

“When drivers get in trouble,” Ferguson said, “they just think, they keep doing it, they keep taking it, like a liter every hour, they go to sit in a hot environment and drink a liter an hour. Then you are you will pee a ton. “

A driver who is otherwise in good health and who is properly hydrated should not urinate in the car. Another reason for the crew to encourage the driver to stick to their hydration program.

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