In the fall of 2018, I started working with Francois, who lives in Malaysia. He was looking for a coach who could coach him using Power (using a Stryd Power Meter) vs. Heart Rate. I remember asking him why he wanted to use Power vs. Heart Rate and he explained to me that living basically on the equator meant that the high vs. low temps for the year varied only about 2 degrees. On top of that, the humidity was close to 100% every day and his HR was always high and his pace was always slower than if he ran in a different climate (temps in the 50-70F range). The environmental factors he has to contend with in Malaysia all lined up to our developing training based on Power.
We started out with a plan to achieve Francois’s goal of earning not only a Boston Qualification but also to hit a personal best (PB). We had a few challenges; one being that Francois had just turned 50. Frankly, I’m never deterred as a coach by someone’s age especially when an athlete is as motivated as Francois is, as I know we’ll figure out a way to reach the goals. He always asks me great questions and makes me think things through. That’s a benefit of working with smart people – they challenge you and they make you smarter. The experience I’ve gained from working with an athlete like Francois is priceless. It's my opinion that you can continue to learn, no matter how long you've coached.
The last known test we had for Francois was in 2017 and his CP (Critical Power) was 257. We have since come to call this his ‘off-season’ CP. Going back to the Fall of 2018, Francois has a CP of 239, then a month later he improved to a CP of 248. A few weeks later, I estimated his CP to be in the 260s as he had a few workouts that included 5x5’ and 6x5’ intervals leading into the Tokyo Marathon. To hit the 260s once might be a fluke, but he hit those numbers 3 weeks in a row, and that’s when ‘training is testing’, in my opinion. There are times that you don’t have to test to know that an athlete has improved and this is one of those times.
Going into the marathon we decided on a power goal of 250 for the race. Looking at the race file, Francois produced 249 watts for the 1st hour, 252 for the 2nd hour, 248 for the 3rd hour, then 242 building into the finish. He finished with a 3:26, with an NP of 249 and a pace of 7:47 which amounted to his PB and a Boston Qualification for 2020. How exciting!
During this marathon training time, we had Francois strength training, along with swimming and cycling too. He was well balanced with at least 2 swims and 2 bikes per week. While these weren’t his strengths these other sports helped him become stronger overall. On top of that, racing in a few triathlons gave him something else to focus on and that let him put himself out there in an athletic sense. He did well in these triathlons and I think he sees the upside to multisport training.
Due to the pandemic, Boston 2020 didn’t happen and then Francois ran into a hamstring issue that we’ve been working around. But his CP has moved from 253 this past September to 269 in November. And that is a lifetime best! We are pretty confident he can get another PB in his upcoming marathon in 2021.
Francois recognizes his training consistency, but he is also extremely self-motivated. Both of those are a testament to his success. He shared with me that he believes these were additional keys to his success:
From a coaching perspective, I recognize these factors as contributing to his success:
All in all, it's been a pleasure to work with Francois and I look forward to more PBs in the future!
Coach Mike Ricci's coaching style is ‘process focused’ vs. ‘results focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown me that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.
Mike's Coaching Credentials: