I was recently asked by Camillia from ActiveInstinct (who sponsor The Skecthers-ActiveInstinct Performance Team that I race for) for some advice for her impending first ever triathlon, the Virgin London Triathlon. The race is in two weeks time and so, having been building up her training for it over the last several month, now is the time to switch focus from building up your swim bike and run distances, to reducing the load (AKA tapering) and refining skills and psychology that you need in your race.
The advice that I gave was specific for Camilla, or someone in the same position. The time-frame may vary according to the length of the race (for example we might spread this phase over 3 weeks in preparing for a first Ironman) and for more experienced athletes we will develop a variation of a taper that is specific to the athlete and the training regime that has preceded this phase. However these basic principles around the sort of training, diet and mental preparations one should focus on as competition nears are valid for all distances and for athletes of all levels of experience.