No.3: Be Diligent About Nutrition
While this is an immensely dense subject, I want to highlight a few things to remember. Be sure to eat your dinner (low in fiber) about 12 hours before your wave starts so that your body has time to digest it all. If you can manage getting up early enough, eat your breakfast about two to three hours before the start of your race. Make sure your bottles are full of the fuel you used in training. Pack extra gels that you know your stomach can digest. Depending on the heat and length of your race, you should have a couple of electrolyte tabs on hand, too.
It's easy to get distracted during the race and forget to address your nutritional needs until it's too late. Before your race, draw up a nutrition map. Figure out when you are going to take gels and how much/how often you will hydrate.
More: Dehyrdation: Worst-Case Scenario
No.2: Know the Course
If you live close to the race site, you should pre-ride the course. If you don't have time or energy to ride/run the course, then drive it the day before. Do you know where the hills are located? How about the wicked potholes and the sharp downhill turns?
Then scope out the swim course and take a mental note of where the main buoys are located.
Finally, know where the run/bike in and out spots are located, and where the finish line is. I like to run the last 400-meter stretch before the race so I have a good reference for when to pick up the pace. Don't let an athlete outrun you for a first place age group award simply because you think the finish line is further away than it actually is.
No.1: Tame Your Mind
Triathletes often psyche themselves out before the race even starts. Avoid over analyzing the way your body feels the week before the race. Tell yourself it's a well-trained machine that's ready to perform.
When you get to the race, keep your "blinders" on. Don't let the looks of someone's solid six pack or shiny deep dish wheels intimidate you. Remember, it's the motor inside that really matters.
More: 3 Mental Exercises to Improve Your Training
Be sure you have a script that you've rehearsed to help battle the potential negative talk, fear and panic in the race. What are you going to tell yourself when your legs feel like lead and you've just been passed by your ex's new flame? Make sure you've got a mantra you can peel out of your sticky gel pocket to do battle. I like to draw out my own "word map" of the course. What am I going to tell myself when I get to point "X"?
Being mindful of the details can help prevent things like getting a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to a flat tire, panicking in the water, bonking, getting lost, or mentally cracking. Simply plan ahead and keep your mind in check.
More: 7 Ways to Avoid Mental Self-Destruction
Put these practices to the test at your next race