Home News For a sportsperson, fitness is a way of life, says racer Jehan Daruvala
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For a sportsperson, fitness is a way of life, says racer Jehan Daruvala

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20-year-old racing driver Jehan Daruvala’s cheat meal, once a month, is a greasy burger. He is a rare Indian motor-racing champ, and in 2017 became the first Indian to take pole position in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

The Daruvalas used to watch F1 races together on their TV every weekend. They couldn’t have imagined then that their little Jehan would one day be on the other side of the screen. The 20-year-old is a rare Indian motor-racing champ, and in 2017 became the first Indian to take pole position in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
Here’s how he keeps his body and mind race-ready.

Growing up, I was a big boy. But Force 1, which propelled me from Indian and Asian circuits to European ones, transformed me as the tracks, competition, everything was of a different level.

In London, my base, I cook myself something simple – pasta, chicken, fish, grilled veggies and mashed potatoes. When I’m here, my UK and Indian trainers coordinate my diet. I eat a lot more Parsi food – I like my pulao and dhanshak. My body can take it.

People underestimate how much athletes should eat – you need 4000 calories and lots of carbs for energy because on race days, just driving, you can lose up to 2.5 kg.

That said, I avoid extra oil, fizzy drinks and fast food. Fortunately, I have no sweet tooth and don’t like alcohol. Cheat meals, once a month, are usually a greasy burger.

Optimal weight is key. Extra kilos can cost you lap-time — you don’t want that in a sport where every millisecond counts. Likewise, if you’re very light, ballast has to be added to stabilise the car. But that’s preferred more as you can distribute its weight, as per your needs. The best is steady bodyweight, so I’ve maintained 70kg for the past four years.

Neck-muscle strength is crucial for me, because of the G forces we endure. Other than that my regime depends on where I am. In London, I exercise twice a day, five times a week. In Mumbai, I follow a two-day workout and one-day rest routine. Workouts are a mix of cardio (running or cycling), strength-training, crossfit and six-minute circuit repetitions till I’m fatigued.

In my free time too, I love sports. In Mumbai, I pick a different one each day – swimming, cricket, table-tennis, football.

Doing anything at a competitive level, stress is inescapable. I remind myself that you’ve got to believe in yourself more than anyone else does. Never take frustrations to the track. Once the helmet’s on, I snap out of everything and tell myself I’m better than everyone. You can’t win without a winning attitude.

Before a race, I spend just about 30 minutes with the engineer, not two to three hours as many other do – I believe in being prepared to adapt. If things don’t go as planned, I leave them on the track and move on.

Published on Hindustan Times