CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson is a world-class athlete. Not only has he been a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion driver, but he also immerses himself in other sporting activities such as biking and running.
For the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, staying active and fit go hand-in-hand with being a NASCAR competitor. Maintaining an active lifestyle, however, has not always been easy for Johnson due to his busy schedule.
“I look back at photos and periods of time in my off-road days, I was on top of fitness and some periods where I definitely wasn’t,” Johnson told the Babbittville podcast. “It comes in and out of my life, it always interests me, but at times I just didn’t have the time. Being where I am today and being accomplished, it makes my schedule a little bit easier than my younger days and having to say yes to everyone.”
Once Johnson began to get involved in more endurance sports, his love for them increased. The driver started to train more on his bike and on foot. He was able to change his lifestyle and surround himself with like-minded people who encourage being active and fit.
“I put in plenty of miles on the bike and on foot, I swam in high school, I’ve got a great endurance culture here in the NASCAR garage area with drivers and crew members who like to beat ourselves up on Fridays and Saturdays when the garage is closed down,” the driver said. “It’s been a really nice transition for me and not a distraction, but a way to learn more about myself mentally, physically and my nutrition and hydration and an escape from the pressure of a race weekend.”
This season, Johnson decided to step up his game even further. Before the first race of the season, Johnson competed in the Daytona Beach Half-Marathon before racing at Daytona International Speedway just hours later.
Talk about endurance.
“The half in Daytona to start the year was nice,” Johnson said. “And the racetrack was nice enough to move the schedule around to where the drivers could participate this year, so I used it as a training day.”
Johnson claims that on top of keeping up his active lifestyle, he also likes the atmosphere that came with the other sporting events, which is why he loves doing them so much.
“The energy, the people, the camaraderie, there is just something about these endurance events that I love to be a part of,” Johnson expressed. “I’ve always had my eye on a major marathon.”
With that in mind, Johnson decided to enter one of running's most iconic events, the Boston Marathon. With his prior training and active lifestyle, Johnson added that a full marathon is not only a physical commitment but a mental one as well. And racing cars runs parallel to that mindset.
“The mental space it takes to be a top NASCAR driver is the same as a commitment to a marathon and to get ready for it,” Johnson explained. “I feel like I’m spending more time in that zone mentally and getting stronger. And it doesn’t guarantee success on the track but it’s one thing I know that helps me.”
With the Boston Marathon just about two weeks away, Johnson has kicked his training into high gear. With his commitment to a strong work ethic and devotion to his training both on and off the track, Johnson will race at Richmond Raceway and run in the Boston Marathon just two days later.
“You really put yourself through a lot getting ready for a full (marathon),” he said.
Check out a video on Johnson's training above, and listen to the full Babbittville podcast here.