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The day before your first triathlon: how to prepare

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After weeks and months of training and preparation, you’ve finally made it. Your first ever triathlon (perhaps your first Freebird triathlon!) takes place tomorrow, and you’re buzzing with the sort of nervous excitement that will only be dispelled when the race finally begins. At this point you’ll feel physically prepared for the race, provided that your training has gone smoothly. During the day before the race you must make all the preparations required for race day, look after your body and attempt to have a good night’s sleep. You want to head into race day knowing that you’re in the best shape possible. How can the day prior to race day help you achieve that?

Light workout

Hopefully you’ll have given yourself a couple of days off training in the final week before the race, or at the very least tapered your training so that your body’s able to receive a little bit of rest before the strains and stresses of race day. On the final day of preparation, however, you should take the time to do a light workout, on the racecourse itself if possible. Limit yourself to a gentle 15-20 minute cycle and a five-minute run – enough to make you break a sweat but certainly not a tough workout. Testing out sections of the route prior to the race may also ease your nerves, and perhaps give you the chance to chat to other competitors.

Check your gear

If you haven’t already done so, check that you have every single piece of gear you’ll need for the race. There are plenty of triathlon gear checklists online, and while you won’t find one that precisely fits your needs, they are certainly good starting points. If you think it’ll ease your mind, run through a final gear check before you head to bed.

Keep hydrated and eat well

Remain hydrated throughout the day, using water rather than sports drinks. Eat light, balanced meals containing carbs, protein, and a small amount of fat. Have an early lunch and eat your dinner long before bedtime. Stick to foods that your body is used to. Don’t eat anything too heavy and try to load up on a huge amount of carbs – there’s a limit to the amount of glycogen that can be stored by your body, and no-one wants to feel weighed down by last night’s meal right before the biggest swim of their lives. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Visit transition areas

Depending on the start time, you may find that the bike racks have already been set up in the triathlon areas. If you’re able to, visit transition areas and practice your changes one final time. Familiarise yourself with the entrance and exits from transitions. The aim is to tackle your nerves and hopefully avoid any transition nightmares – either during your final night of sleep or during the race itself!

Little extras

If the race is set to finish after dark, you’ll probably be required to wear reflective tape on your clothes. Apply this prior to race day to avoid last minute panic. Carry out any other little measures that will calm you down and help you get a good night’s sleep. Read, watch TV, talk to a friend – whatever works for you. Check the weather forecast so you have an idea of what race conditions to expect. If you like, set multiple alarms so you don’t need to worry about oversleeping. It’s important to remember that few triathletes experience a perfect night’s sleep prior to the race – just make sure that you sleep well in the week before the race.

In 24 hours time you’ll be crossing the finish line – and perhaps become a triathlon convert for life. To plan your next triathlon in Yorkshire and the north of England, take a look at our upcoming events for the 2017 season!

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