by Gary Tingley -
It's the day before the big event, and you are wondering "should I take it easy today?" Yes, absolutely. One of the most important race preparation elements is relaxation. You should arrive at the event relaxed and prepared to give your best effort.
How to best prepare yourself depends on where you are starting from and the type of event you are competing in. There are a few basic preparation tasks that I use for time trial races (can also be used for triathlon):
1. Prep ride warm up. I'll use the same 40 minute warm-up the day before the event as I do on race day, and if I can I will ride the actual race course. The goal here is to blow out the cobwebs while staying relaxed and fresh.
2. Confidence and mental rehearsal. If this is a new course, or a championship event, completing a pre ride the day before on the actual course will give you confidence to corner at the maximum possible speed, and will allow you to observe the course profile and any potential hazards. Practice mental rehearsal of a strong start, smooth turnaround, and solid finish. Visualize yourself pedaling smoothly with relaxed breathing.
3. Nutrition and sleep. I tend to keep nutrition simple and stick to my normal diet. I will not restrict calories the day before a race and I tend to avoid heavy foods that may cause digestive problems. Since many events begin in the morning, it is important to turn in early to prevent unnecessary fatigue. I strive to get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep the night before the event.
These are but a few of the numerous little items that truly add up on race day. The goal is to line up the day of the event in the most rested and best prepared condition possible.