February 5, 2013 | Daryle W. Hier
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On top of being one of the best drivers in IndyCar, Tony Kanaan might be one of the fittest athletes in the entire motorsports world.
Kanaan is unmatched in his preparedness, training regimen and fitness schedule. The 38-year-old Brazilian, who won the IndyCar championship in 2004, stays in shape by training for and competing in triathlons.
Because weight training is not recommedned for racecar drivers—especially as an child—Kanaan stayed in shape by swimming. In his early teens, he also ran and biked. Of course, those are the three components of the triathlon. For the past dozen seasons, Kanaan has competed in many triathlons, and in fact he has won sprint triathlons in Florida (Kanaan resides inthe Miami area). He does Ironman competitions as well. Of the three sports, Kanaan favors cycling. He has historically been a big supporter of Lance Armstrong and Livestrong.
Livestrong.com is a great place for information on health. Kanaan once offered up the recipe for one of his favorite pre-race meals: picanha, a specific cut of sirloin that's turned on a grill. Kanaan eats it with rice and beans, and the meal is one of his training staples (source: Livestrong).
Kanaan stays away from junk food. He says, "I don't eat fast food, don't drink soda or alcohol or eat anything fried. I believe you have to take care of your body."
Tony Kanaan eats every three hours during the day. A typical set of meals includes a two-egg omelet; a protein shake with toast; rice and beans with red meat, chicken or fish; another shake; a turkey sandwich; and at night a salad with pasta and tomatoes. Once a week, he cheats, treating himself to a couple of hot dogs (source: Chicago Tribune).
Kanaan's percentage of body fat beats that of many other professional athletes. Incredibly, it's been stated that the 5'5" 150-pound driver is almost as strong as an NFL linebacker. He also integrates CrossFit into his regimen, along with stretching exercises. He trains seven days a week, including cycling for up to two hours, swimming for 45 minutes and lifting weights for 45 minutes. His weight training focuses on the shoulders and neck, critical areas for a racecar driver due to g-forces; but he also does core training for his back and abs. Kanaan's training motto is "The pain is momentary. Giving up is forever."
That's how a relatively small man has prepared and performed at such a high level for so many years as a premier racecar driver. Tony Kanaan stays ahead of the pack thanks to his nutritional habits, intense workout regimen and unwavering will to win.
Photo: Racin' Today