By Meghan G. Loftus (Runners World, July 31, 2013) — The NASCAR driver from Mooresville, North Carolina, enjoys the feeling he gets from racing cars and running:
Kasey, in his own words, describes his love for running:
I love adrenaline. I get that driving—but it’s nice to feel it on my feet, too. You can lift all day long and it’s just a different feeling. You know you worked hard, your arms are worn out, but you’re not sitting there soaking wet. I have always felt better when I sweat a lot and running does that for me.
In racing you need your car, and in running you need your legs and heart. In both, you’re on the edge of pushing too hard. You can only go so fast. I guess there’s some similarities in how hard you can push each one.
I did a sprint triathlon last July. It was fun to work toward that. Then I wanted to train for my first half-marathon and see how fast I could go. The Daytona Beach Half [in February] fit my schedule, and I ran a 1:28.
I’ve always done speed drills, intervals, and three to four miles at a time, but for the half I had to step up to 30 miles a week. I’m happier now and have more energy. It makes me a little bit better overall, not just in racing.
The Daytona Half starts on a pit road and ends on the speedway. I liked it because I could see the track up close—all the changes in the surface. They did it the Sunday of qualifying for the Daytona 500, early that morning. A lot of times with weekend races there’s no way you can do them because you’re in some other state. Because it was just a qualifying day, you can do it. You don’t have to be full of energy to qualify the car at Daytona. You’re just wondering: How hard am I going to be able to go? How many guys can I beat? Am I going to get smoked here? You kind of know the pace you want to try for, that you can run. On the NASCAR side, it’s actually very similar. You’re wondering how your car’s going to be, how the track’s going to be, at the end of the day where you’re going to place. You want to do the best you can, so you push as hard as you can in both.
Some drivers think running is pretty cool. Others are like, “I’ll hand you a water when you’re done.” Setting goals for yourself, everybody likes that. It’s kind of what we’ve done our whole lives with racing. You try to always push yourself to get better. Anyone that’s in our sport respects someone that’s trying to push themselves in something else.
I got pretty skinny during my training for the Daytona Half. I’m not a real big person as it is. My grandma and my mom think I’m way too skinny from my training, but I feel the best I’ve ever felt. They think I don’t eat, but I eat a lot: chicken, fruits and vegetables, grains—sometimes steak. Other people say it too, once in a while, and I’m like, “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
When I run, my heart doesn’t ever get tired, like it’s ahead of the rest of my body. I like that. It makes it to where I get worn out everywhere else before my heart’s tired or I’m breathing too hard. I can control it. I feel good about myself when I have that feeling.
It’s 90 degrees and humid all summer here, so I do plenty of warm runs. They prepare me for the heat in my car.
I thought it would be neat to host a 5-K the weekend of the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte. This year’s race is October 13. I try not to finish last. [He ran 22:04 last year.]
I think a lot on long runs. During a race, driving is the only thing I think about; zoning out would not be good.
I might plan a full marathon at some point, but it’s tough because of our weekend racing schedule. It’d be awesome to do the Boston Marathon—and it’s on Monday.
For more information on Kasey Kahne’s 5-K in Charlotte, visit: http://kaseykahnefoundation.org/events/
Story at Runner’s World.