By Dieter Roylance
With the Melbourne F1 in town this weekend, it is a perfect time to talk about mental concentration. Many people do not understand the extreme fitness that goes with F1, often you will hear that these guys just sit in a car and go around and around the track. This is couldn't be any further from the truth. These guys are highly tuned athletes, like their cars, with massive forces going through their bodies.
One aspect on F1 that is often over looked is mental concentration, as on a street circuit like Melbourne, one missed breaking spot, putting a wheel off the track or on one of the lines on the road and the driver will find themselves in a wall. Or as Ralph Schumacher found out on the first corner that not breaking, equals flying cars!
There are three aspects that can effect concentration, sleep, nutrition and recovery.
When you are driving on the limit for 2 hours straight, where first and second can be separated by only seconds. Being tired, having a bad nights sleep or not enough sleep, is something that a F1 driver can't afford. Sleep is something that is highly underrated and anyone who has had a late night or who doesn't sleep well knows how it can effect concentration. Sometimes it could be forgetting to make a phone call, forget to take your gym gear with you in the morning. Well a F1 driver can't afford to miss a corner, so getting adequate sleep is vital!
A F1 car has a specific fuel for the highly tuned engine in the F1 car. However, people seem to think they can eat anything and still perform at a optimal level. Concentration comes back to good vs bad nutrition. A bowl of cereal or nothing at all is not optimal for concentration, a cup of coffee may put some caffeine in your system and wake you up momentarily but it's not going to be enough to help you concentrate for 2 hours of a Grand Prix or even that big Monday morning meeting you have. Food should fuel your body, increasing energy, performance and mental clarity.
This is one aspect that very few people understand. Yes, your body should recover when you are sleeping but there are other areas of recovery that are equally important. Far too often people think more is better and yes the body is amazingly resilient but if you continue to push it will break. Either you get ill or injured. Often athletes do a taper into a major event, but with anything a taper needs to be timed just right. The idea of a taper is to increase intensity but decrease volume, allowing the body to recover but also sharpen it up for better performance. Other areas of recovery are massage, yoga, stretching, epsom salt baths or just plain rest.
Like any athlete, business person or student, getting adequate sleep, proper nutrition and enough recovery will allow you optimal concentration.