Maximizing Training Part I

Coach Mike Ricci talking with runners
December 15, 2016

Mike Ricci


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In the summer of 2002, an athlete reached out to me just before the Vineman Full Distance race seeking assistance. His coach had relocated, prompting our conversation. Despite his aspirations of qualifying for Ironman Hawaii, I redirected our focus to his imminent race, advising him on pacing and nutrition. He completed Vineman in 13:xx hours, reigniting his passion for triathlon. Consequently, he enlisted my coaching services for IM Coeur d'Alene in 2003.

Leading up to the race, he trained diligently. However, the scorching conditions at IM Coeur d'Alene that year led to a high dropout rate. As temperatures soared, he experienced severe leg cramps on the bike, ultimately forcing him to withdraw from the race early in the marathon. Reflecting on the outcome, we discussed his race performance and training regimen. I left the decision to continue coaching in his hands, emphasizing the demanding nature of Ironman racing and the necessity of hard work and smart training for success.

Despite the setback, he surprised me by signing up for IM Coeur d'Alene again in 2004. Our training regimen intensified during the off-season, with a focus on refining his bike position and increasing his comfort level. He committed wholeheartedly to the training plan, demonstrating unwavering dedication and trust. Week after week, he executed each workout without question, despite his previous disappointment.

Given his previous race times and the challenges he faced, I cautiously contemplated his chances of qualifying for Kona. A typical finishing time in his age group was around 10:30 on a course like IM Coeur d'Alene. However, his remarkable progress led me to believe that a sub-12:00 finish was within reach.

During the race, I observed his steady progress on the bike, impressed by his relaxed demeanor and consistent cadence. His exceptional bike split set the stage for a promising marathon. However, I was unprepared for his extraordinary performance on the run. He completed the entire marathon without walking a single step, overtaking 393 competitors along the way, and finishing in an astonishing 11:31.

His remarkable improvement underscored the efficacy of our training approach. Despite the challenges he faced, he demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination, exceeding all expectations. However, following the race, he decided to take a hiatus from coaching and racing, citing the need for a break.

Unfortunately, our journey was interrupted by an unexpected mountain biking accident, resulting in serious injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs. As he embarks on the road to recovery, our story remains unfinished, with the hope of future triumphs yet to come.

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His 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 him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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