In our previous blog post (Part 1 of “Travel Tips For Racing a Triathlon in a Foreign Country”), we discussed the importance of arriving to your race destination at least a few days in advance, traveling with plenty of local currency, and preparing yourself for a foreign language. In Part 2 of “Travel Tips,” we share tips for what should be done in the days leading up to your race to set yourself up for success on race day.
Figuring Out Transportation and Directions
Assuming you have a few extra days before the race, take the time to figure out how to get from A to B (for example: how to get to the grocery store, how to use the bus system and how to flag down a taxi cab or have your hotel call one for you). Learn your way around town so that by the day before the race, when you have to drop your bike at transition, check in, and do all the other necessary things to get ready for the race, you are not flustered and wondering where to go.
Additionally, make sure you know how to get from your hotel to T1 on race day. If the race finishes far from where you are staying, ensure that you have a plan for getting back to your lodging once the race is done. During this entire learning process, you can utilize cab drivers, locals, waiters, other triathletes, race staff, and hotel staff to help you plan for transportation logistics and to figure out your way around town.
Bring a Power Adapter
Keep your computer, phone, and bike computer/GPS powered up by bringing the correct plug outlet adapter with you. The standard North American plug won’t work in other continents.
Know the Drinking Water Rules
In many countries, it is not safe for foreigners to drink the tap water. Make sure you know the local water safety guidelines and buy bottled water if you are warned against the tap. Getting sick from drinking bad water will ruin your race faster than almost anything else.
Bring Your Own Snacks and Race Food
If you have a favorite snack or dessert, bring it. You may not find an equivalent in South American, Asia or Europe. Having a few home comforts can help you unwind from a stressful day in a foreign country and keep you fueled if you aren’t getting enough food during regular meals. More importantly, pack all of your race food before you leave on the trip and – just in case – bring more than you think is necessary.
Save the Most Delicious, Savory, Exotic Dishes Until After the Race
It’s tempting to explore new foods in a foreign country, and you will likely have to do this whether you plan to or not. Yet, it is best to keep your diet as familiar, plain and boring as possible in the days leading up to the race. Continue focusing on low fiber, low fat foods. Stick to a high carbohydrate diet to maximize your glycogen stores and keep your stomach settled for the run.
Be sure to eat enough food! A common mistake we see is athletes not eating enough because they either don’t like the local food or they are trying to be too strict with their eating habits. Don’t panic if you have to eat something new before the race. Remember that huevos con tortillas is similar to eggs and toast. You can probably find a close enough substitute for your normal food if you search for it.
Stay Off Your Feet as Much as Possible Before the Race
We understand that one of the main reasons you’re traveling to a foreign country to race is to see the sights and experience the culture. However, being a tourist must be balanced with being an athlete. Just like it is wise to save the street food experience for after the race, it is also best to save your legs for sightseeing until after the race.