Dan Mejia, two-time IRONMAN 70.3 finisher, shares his preparation tips for beginner triathletes two weeks out from their big race
photos: DAN MEJIA
Whether you are doing your first sprint or Olympic distance triathlon, the last two weeks before the race are the most critical to ensure you are in the best condition on race day.
Time to Race Day: 15 days
Start with a 15-minute warm-up and core strengthening exercises, then off you go for your last long ride and long swim. Carefully observe your hydration and nutrition needs. Eat healthy and get enough rest or sleep so you can recover well.
TIP: Double the distance of the race you will be participating in.
Time to Race Day: 14 days
Start with core exercises and run drills. If you are feeling heavy or sore from training the day before, it’s okay. I think it’s even better to run on tired legs since that is how it really is on race day.
TIP: Do your last long run followed by a recovery swim.
Time to Race Day: 13 days
Time to Race Day: 12 days
Swim — warm up, intervals/drills, time trial
Time to Race Day: 11 days
Brick — ride and run
Time to Race Day: 10 days
Swim — warm up, intervals/drills, time trial
Time to Race Day: 9 days
Run — drills, intervals, time trial
Time to Race Day: 8 days
Swim—Bike—Run (SBR) day
TIP: If your race is going to be in open water, do your SBR where there is open water. Cover the distance you will be racing on race day.
Time to Race Day: One week
You are now entering race week. During the week, you will need to cut back on your training intensity and start to taper. I would suggest you devote this week to your other needs:
- Check that you have all your equipment with you and that they are all in good condition — race goggles, tri suit, running shoes, helmet, and racing sunglasses
- Check your bike is tuned up and all its essentials are complete — spare inner tube, portable pump or Co2, tyre changing tools, hydration bottles
- Plan your nutrition needs
Time to Race Day: 6 days
Core strengthening and easy swim
Time to Race Day: 5 days
Core strengthening and easy bike
Time to Race Day: 4 days
Core strengthening and easy run
Time to Race Day: 72 hours
Packing and preparation day
Time to Race Day: 48 hours
Rest day — carbo load in the evening
Time to Race Day: 24 hours
Morning: If you are at the race venue, devote time to do a racecourse reconnaissance. This is also the day to register and check your bike in.
TIP: If you can, do an easy swim on the actual course so you can get a feel for it.
Afternoon: Take a nap, enjoy the afternoon, chill and listen to your ‘fight’ playlist, and attend the race briefing.
Evening: Mindfully plan your breakfast/nutrition for the morning, stick to your meal plan, set your alarm, and go to bed early.
TIP: Never take or eat anything new at this time.
Your day of reckoning. Your months of hard work, the amount of time you have spent training and away from your family and friends, all the sacrifices you have made to get to the starting line will now carry you through to the finish line.
TIP: It is normal to feel nervous, but to shake it off, think of it as just another training day.
Have breakfast, prepare your race nutrition, mind the time, and head over to the transition area to place the rest of your racing essentials there.
TIP: Before going to the swim start, check that the timing chip is securely attached to you, you have your swim cap and goggles with you and that you have taken your first nutrition.
Once you are at the swim start, take time to say ‘good luck’ to other people as well, that way you lessen the tense environment. Have pictures taken. Do your warm up exercises.
Now, get into the water for your final feel of it before the start, swim a few strokes, then get ready for the gun.
Enjoy and race safe!
RELATED: Triathlons. How do I get into them?
More about Dan’s Triathlon Experience
In October 2015, with an ambition to join IRONMAN 70.3 the following year, I signed up for it — even with zero swim and bike skills. I enrolled in a triathlon club under coach Norman Pascual (ITU certified) and started by training in January 2016.
Given that my aim was to enter the IRONMAN 70.3 Cebu in August, I signed up for two smaller races happening before that.
June – My very first triathlon race was a sprint (Sunrise Sprint — 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) at Subic Bay, Philippines.
July – I then did a longer distance (Tri-United 2 — 2km swim, 60km bike, 15km run) at Subic Bay, Philippines.
August – IRONMAN 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship
During that year, in order to strengthen my run, I entered several races, one of them was a marathon, the rest were 21km.
April – Ran my second marathon
- Tri-United 2 (2km swim, 60km bike, 15km run), much improved time with over an hour reduced compared to the previous year.
- Swam my first 4km swim at the Open Water Challenge in Subic Bay, Philippines
- Ran my third marathon with a personal best of 3hr 41m at the Milo National Marathon, which qualified me into the finals
August – Raced my second IRONMAN 70.3 in Cebu City, Philippines.
December – Ran my fourth marathon at the Milo National Finals
January – Ran my first Olympic distance triathlon at the National Age Group Triathlon in Subic Bay, Philippines
June – I’m now focused on training for my first full IRONMAN race in June to be held in Subic Bay, Philippines
August – This will be my third IRONMAN 70.3 in Cebu.
Dan is the Head of Communications at H&M, Philippines. He can be contacted via Instagram @dancmejia