Mikel is a great athlete, but an even better person. For him the key is in the mind.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What's your job?
I am Mikel Otaegi Irastorza, I live in Usurbil and it has been 4 years since I became independent, buying a flat.
I have been working in a mechanical workshop in Usurbil since 2009 and I am the workshop manager.
My studies: Technical engineer in electronics.
How do you combine work and sport?
Sport is the perfect complement to my work, it helps me relax and clear my head, it is an escape route, helping me to disconnect. This makes you mentally fresh and with clearer ideas. Sport gives you values such as discipline, sacrifice (things are achieved based on effort and not giving up).
How many hours/week do you dedicate to sports?
Around 20h per week
What was your first test?
My first triathlon was the one in Durango and I won in the sub23 category. 2008 (I won the Basque sub23 duathlon circuit, winning all the races I participated in).
2009 (U23 Euskadi long distance triathlon champion and 3rd in the absolute category). Win the Basque sub23 triathlon circuit.
2010 (Winner of the Basque-Navarro duathlon circuit in the elite category) Winner in 3 tests (Arbizu, San Adrian and Barakaldo).
What test has been the hardest? Why?.
The ultra trail 3 handiak (101km of trail).
It was the hardest because I went without preparing myself muscularly. 2 weeks before I had done an extreme mountain Ironman (Hispaman, where I finished 3rd) and I was still recovering. I finished the trail in 4pm and I remember that I fell asleep in the car on the way back.
I stayed 10 days to be able to walk well again.
What mental tool do you use for critical moments?
I always remember my grandfather, who died in 2009 just when he was making his debut with the Euskadi team. He has always been my reference, my idol and I have a phrase tattooed on my arm that reminds me of him and the values he instilled in me since I was little ("Ezina Ekinez Egina")
Do you have or have you had an injury due to sports?
No, I've had overloads, but normal. Last year I had sciatica, but now it's forgotten. I am one of those who try to forget the bad times and keep the good, I am a positive person.
Let's talk about food. Do you follow any diet during the preparations? Out of them?
In 2014 I was with a sports dietitian, Ion Garraus, from whom I learned a lot. The truth is that I made a very big qualitative leap, but I have to admit that it can be dangerous. During the day you are thinking about what you have to eat, how much exactly... becoming obsessed.
I got to the point of knowing the calories that each food had and I decided to end all this. From that moment on, I do follow some pre-competition, competition and post-competition guidelines, but nothing extreme.
Why triathlon and not another sport? What attracted you to triathlon?
It seems to me that it is the most complete sport as it has 3 disciplines. When it comes to training you can choose what to do according to the time you have, whatever time you do, whatever you feel like... When choosing the objectives, you have total freedom, there is no one who forces you to do tests that you don't you feel like it... In addition, you can measure yourself against professionals one to one, something that in many sports is impossible. Another thing that attracts me is that you get to know many new places and make many friends who have the same passion as you, sports and the desire to improve yourself.
Do you like the RRSS?
Yes, although I don't have much time for it and the time I do have, I prefer to take advantage of it to play sports :)
How would you define yourself?
A simple person, passionate about sports, I try to improve myself both sportingly and personally and a friend of my friends.
How do you see yourself in the following months/years?
Like until now, enjoying the sport and trying to improve day by day.
What sports goals do you have in the medium term (6-18 months)? And in the long term?
In 2021 I want to do 3 ultraman and try to give 100% in all of them, the Titan Desert, try to be in the Altriman fight (Ironman distance triathlon) and improve my mark in the ultratrail 3 Handiak (101km).
In the long term, I would like to go to the ultraman world championship in Hawaii and try to do well. I would also like to do the Sables marathon (a self-sufficient desert stage race).
If you had to give one piece of advice to anyone who has only been doing tri/duathlons for a short time. What would?
Enjoy, don't get obsessed with the gps (rhythms, times, marks...). In the end, the beauty of sport is the people you meet and being able to enjoy the passion we share together.