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If there is one area in my daily routine that I always fall flat on is keeping hydrated. I love coffee and tea but even then, I tend to only have three cups over the workday then very little in the evening. Contrary to popular belief coffee and tea don’t dehydrate you. But how can I make sure I keep hydrated during long racing sessions? And is it transferable to real-life racing? First, let’s take a look at racing drivers and how they keep hydrated.
The Racing Driver
Obviously, there are many different disciplines in racing so I’ll be taking a look at the F1 racing driver. Essentially Sport’s website, explains that for the race, teams fit each car with a bag of fluids. They usually attach it to the cockpit itself and it’s also fitted with a pump. The pilot can then press a button on the steering wheel to send a shot of liquid through a tube into the pilot’s mouth.
Of course, I’m sure there is a way to DIY this bit of kit, but it is rather overkilled for sim racing. The other drawback to this system is that it doesn’t keep the drink cool. Within the F1 Cockpit, the temperatures can go up to 50 degrees. This changes the drink from cool and refreshing to lukewarm. But for the pilots to stay hydrated they must still drink it. Here’s a funny fact:
Apparently because it gets so hot some of the British drivers used to fill up their bottle with tea, Damon Hill being one of them. Although I imagine these days it’s all isotonic drinks chosen by their physical therapists and nutritionists.Eendracht – Redditor
Most if not all F1 drivers have a drink that is enriched with vitamins and electrolytes to help them stay hydrated and keep their energy levels up. Since they cannot eat to refuel, the drink needs to compensate for this. Each driver has a different drink depending on their needs and is prepared according to their diet.
Electrolyte – Electrolytes must be present in proper concentrations to maintain fluid balance, muscle contraction and neural activityThe Importance of Electrolytes for Athletes | BridgeAthletic
Now I doubt any of us mortals have access to a dietician so we will have to look into what is out there for us to try and boost our energy levels and concentration.
Drinking System for Us Normals
There are two routes we can go down to have the perfect drinking system. One is to get a large plastic reusable bottle and have a longish and sturdy straw. Or we can take inspiration from cyclists and joggers, and use a drinking system that relies on you sipping through a long water system.
This is by far the easiest and cheapest method to go down. You can get a decent bottle for around £10 and this should last you quite a long while. They are available in sizes up to 1L. So if you are racing for more than an hour you may need to use more than one. Another drawback is you have to take your eyes off the road to find your drink. This can be minimised if you keep the bottles close and only drink during the straights. Below are a few options:*
Cycling/Jogging Water System
The option I would recommend simply because of its ease of use and the fact I had already bought one for when I used to cycle (used to try to keep fit during the first lockdown) is a jogging water system. These are basically bags of water with a long hose that you can clip on your clothing. So if you clip it to your top it will always be accessible. Some of these water bag systems have cut off valves that prevent water from coming through accidentally but it isn’t necessary. These are easy to drink absentmindedly which is great if you are anything like me and struggle to drink outside of sim racing. Here are a few selections*:
Some of these packs will come with a backpack which isn’t necessary. But it could be used to secure your drink on the back of your sim racing rig, like I’m doing. The packs offer a higher capacity than bottles and generally are lighter and take up less room once you start drinking.
What to Drink
So before I go on, please not I am not a trained nutritionist. All of what I am about to provide is based on information available to me either through websites or personal experience.
At the most basic level, drink water and plenty of it. It’s the easiest drink to get hold of and there really isn’t cons. If you live in an area where either the water tastes poor or advised that the water from the tap is not drinkable then get hold of a filtration system. These can simply be a jug with a filter, to a full on system that is connected to your water supply. But if the water isn’t drinkable you will need to buy water from your local shop as filters may not remove all impurities. Here are some examples:
If you can’t stand water, or you get bored of it. You can always use squash to make the water taste better. These tend to have high sugar content, so look out for lower sugar versions. But if it makes you drink more, then the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Isotonic Drinks have the same salt and sugar as the human body. That way they can hydrate as well restore as your sugar stores. Which in theory means you can’t over hydrate with these types of drinks. They are usually used by runners and cyclists. They have a variety of different flavours and come from all different brands. Unlike water and squash Isotonic drinks can be more expensive to buy. So it really depends on your budget. Personalyl I would stick with squash and just monitor the intake..
So what is your favorite drink? Maybe your partial to tea or coffee? Let me know in the comments. And above all else keep hydrated!
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