What you do the day before a race can have a big impact on your performance. Professional Triathlete Rachel Joyce gave us a special insight into her day before IRONMAN Texas in May 2015, where she placed 3rd.
Wake up: No alarm clock - I’ll leave that for tomorrow! A relaxed start - to get my body moving I complete some mobilisation exercises.
Breakfast: Oats with blueberries, walnuts, a dollop of Greek yoghurt, and semi-skimmed milk (2% fat). With this I drink water, and also a cup of English Breakfast tea.
I head to the race venue for a quick swim on the race course. I wear my race suit, my ROKA Viper Swimskin, and take a couple of different pairs of goggles to see which ones I will wear for the race. I swim out from the start to a couple of buoys, and then check where the turn off down the canal is to help me on race day. After my swim I chat to other athletes who are also doing the race, and have my picture taken with a few people.
Post swim: I head to the race hotel. I have prepared a bottle of slightly less concentrated Isoactive to drink, which I sip regularly to keep hydrated (I don’t want to just drink plain water all day). I meet my coach, Julie Dibens at the race hotel to talk through the race, and go over some final checks. I eat a Natural Energy Cereal bar (Cacao Crunch is my favourite flavour) while we chat. I also drink a cup of black coffee :).
Bike: Next up is a spin on my bike with my partner Brett, who is also racing. My bike is set up completely now for race day – start numbers, wheels, bottles etc. I wear my race kit for this, and an aero helmet. We ride for about 75 mins and I include a few efforts to “open up” my legs. During the ride I drink 2 bottles of Isoactive Sports Drink. It is hot and humid, and I don’t want to start race day dehydrated at all!
Noon: We both check in our bikes, as well as our run- and bike bags at the transition area, and finally leave the race venue.
Lunch: This is my second time racing IRONMAN Texas and I remembered a great Mediterranean restaurant, which serves my perfect pre-race meal of rice where I add some extra salt, chicken and vegetables. We head there for lunch. I use lunch as my bigger meal of the day, as I don’t like eating a heavy meal the night before I race. We eat there, and I drink plenty of water with my meal.
Feet up: We head back to our guest house and I put my feet up for a couple of hours. I use 20 mins to visualize the race from start to finish. I think about the swim start, the transitions, and the different points in the day. Once I have done that I feel like I can relax and switch off. I nap for maybe 20 mins, then read, watch TV and just chill out. I will sip on water and another bottle of weak Isoactive Lemon during the afternoon, adding up to probably a total of 1 litre of liquid. I also snack on yoghurt with a bit of trail mix.
I get up and gather all my race day kit so it’s ready for me in the morning. I measure out the drink powder for my bottles on the bike: two 750ml bottles of Isoactive, one a little weaker than usual for immediately after the swim, and the other normal strength. On the bike I eat mostly PowerGel shots, so I take 4 packets of these, plus 2 PowerGels (one with caffeine for a boost 100km into the bike). I also prepare my own special requirements for the run - 4 gels with my favourite flavours: 2 Red Fruit Punch and 2 Strawberry Banana.
A shake-out run - only for 15-20 mins, and really easy. I like to use this time to think about the race tomorrow.
Dinner: Very simple - more of the same: some grilled chicken and rice (a smaller portion than at lunch), and a Greek yoghurt. More plain water, and also some coconut water.
Chill - everything is done so I chill out with my feet up – I chat to Brett, and we watch some easy TV. It’s kind of a tradition that I have to eat some chocolate. Today it’s a few pieces of Green & Blacks dark chocolate.
Bedtime - I won’t sleep immediately (although sometimes I do!). I go to bed with a bottle of water by my side. I read and maybe listen to a podcast (NOT Triathlon related) to help me get to sleep. Sometimes I sleep so well before a race that when the alarm clock goes off it takes me a second to realize that it is RACE TIME!!!
© Corinne Mäder Reinhard, Senior EU Sport Nutrition Manager PowerBar. International Olympic Committee postgraduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition