Two Days to Go
Whether you are traveling to your triathlon or looking forward to competing in your own backyard, there is a key day coming up. If your race is on a Saturday, that day is Thursday; for a Sunday race, it's Friday.
Two days before your race, plan on complete rest. The only activity you should contemplate that day is stretching, but do only the stretches you have used during your training. Don't try anything new.
Add some carbs to your diet on the key day, perhaps an extra helping of rice or pasta. Doing so will help build up the glycogen stores you will need for fuel on race day.
Avoid high-fat food from now through the end of the race. You want your system functioning at its best, not bogged down trying to digest a greasy meal. Stick to lean protein — chicken, lean beef, or fish. Forget about pizza, ribs, and French fries. You didn't come this far to blow it because of a bad eating decision.
Take in lots of fruit and vegetables, and it's okay two days out to take in some high-fiber foods. It's not recommended the day before as you could end up wasting precious time in the port-a-john during the race.
If the forecast for your race calls for warm temperatures, be sure to take in extra sodium prior to the event to fend off cramps. That does not mean you can go wild with potato chips or other salty junk food. Look for some electrolyte tablets, or just use a little extra table salt on your food.
Conventional wisdom is that the key night for sleep is two days removed from your event, not the night before. It is normal to have restless sleep the night before a big race, and your first triathlon meets that standard.
If you are like many new triathletes, you may spend the night before your race waking up every hour, fearful you will oversleep. You can manage on less than adequate sleep for one night, but if you miss out two nights in a row, you will end up very tired during your race.
If your race is on a Sunday, get to bed early on Friday night, planning to sleep a full eight hours or whatever makes you feel good. If your race is out of town and you can go a day early, doing so will help you settle in and prepare for adequate sleep, perhaps even help you get used to a different climate. It will also give you time to lay out all your gear and double-check to be sure everything is there. If something is missing, you will have time to get to the expo or local bike or running store to pick up whatever you need.