Health and Fitness Column

NASCAR’s Johnson is an elite athlete

By John Taylor | May 20, 2014
Photo by: File John Taylor

Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson grew up in California as a very active child and teen. Throughout his upbringing, Johnson participated in a variety of sports, including swimming, BMX bike racing, track, and of course, car racing. The 38-year-old resident of Charlotte now trains and participates in triathlons while driving and traveling for NASCAR competitions.
When Johnson is not driving the No. 48 Lowe’s car on the track, he is overseeing the “Jimmie Johnson Foundation,” which encourages others to improve their fitness levels and lifestyle choices through the “Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge.”
To promote his foundation, Johnson ran the Daytona Beach Half Marathon in 1:28:16, which earned him third-place finish in the 35-59 age group.
To put it bluntly, the man is a beast.
“My job is far more physical than most give us credit for,” Johnson told, a website dedicated to promoting running events and coaching. “Having cardiovascular fitness is important. Running has been the cornerstone of my training for a long time—it’s easy to do when I travel.”
Johnson admits that he does work with a running and triathlon coach, which he found helpful for motivational purposes and altering workouts on days he is feeling tired or sore.
“I work out six days a week and race on Sundays. Since I’m usually pretty wiped out from driving, I don’t have the intensity for anaerobic work on Mondays or Tuesdays,” Johnson told “Monday is my long run day and Tuesday is my long swim day. By Wednesday I start to feel recovered and add in speed work.”
Keep in mind, just because you’re not Jimmy Johnson doesn’t mean you can’t also receive coaching to help your running performance.
Even if you have been on the couch for years, but want to begin a running program, you can contact a local running club for tips and meeting times. During these group runs, you can speak with running club members that have expertise in training regimens, diet, footwear, appeal, and worthwhile trails and pathways to explore.
Some of the more popular running groups in Western North Carolina include Asheville Triathlon Club, Asheville Track Club, Distance Diva’s Racing Team in Asheville (women only), Franklin Road Runners Club, Great Smokey Mountains Triathlon Club in Hayesville, Highlands Roadrunner Club, Lower Arden Track Club, and the Tryon Running Club.
If you are looking for more individualized instruction outside of a running club, Nicole Kaysing from the Emmy-nominated reality television series, “Too Fat for 15” offers training sessions to residents of Haywood and Jackson County, and can be contacted through the Jackson County Parks and Recreation office.
Keep in mind, staying fit and healthy is an important goal for everyone to increase energy levels and your lifespan, but perhaps running isn’t for you. However, if you are interested, running clubs can offer the motivation and instruction that you may need to perform at a higher level. So why look up one of these running groups and give it a shot.
After all, how much advice is “Wii Fitness” really going to provide you?