The Training Matrix

a triathlon coach talking to his triathletes
January 30, 2017

Mike Ricci



The most frequently asked question by triathlon coaches is "How do I get faster?" It's a simple question, but unfortunately, there's no simple answer.

When working with athletes to help them achieve their goals, I start by asking two fundamental questions:

1. How much time do you have to train?
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

These two questions play a crucial role in determining the structure of your training. Despite the abundance of advice on intervals, tempo workouts, and new equipment promising speed gains, the key lies in these basic questions: the amount of time available for training and how effectively that time is utilized.

As my former coach, Rick Niles, aptly puts it, "It's not how MUCH you train, but HOW you train." This philosophy forms the cornerstone of my coaching approach. I refined this approach while coaching 100 student athletes at the University of Colorado, where I developed a training matrix to organize training more effectively.

Upon taking the head coaching position for the University of Colorado Triathlon Team in 2008, I observed that the team was stuck in traditional training methods, leading to a decline in performance. I introduced structured workouts, incorporating VO2 workouts, time trials, and more swim training while eliminating aimless long rides and runs.

Despite initial resistance, the team embraced the new approach, resulting in improved performance and eventually reclaiming the National Championship title after a five-year drought.

In addition to changing the training strategy, I implemented athlete profiles to tailor training plans to individual needs. By understanding each athlete's strengths, weaknesses, and training preferences, I could optimize their training regimen for better results.

Coaching a diverse college club team posed challenges, but I devised individualized schedules based on each athlete's available training time and strengths/weaknesses. The training matrix, which you can download here, helped streamline this process.

When using the matrix, remember to consider:
1. How much time you have to train
2. Your strengths and weaknesses

Consistency is key. Focus on regular training rather than trying to meet every hour or session. Whether you're focusing on your weakness or building on your strengths, consistent effort is paramount.

Remember, hard work doesn't always mean pushing yourself to the limit. It's about consistently putting in the effort week after week. The key to success lies in consistency.

Download the matrix and start planning your path to personal bests in 2015!

Michael Ricci is a USAT Level III certified coach and USAT National Coach of the Year, with a track record of coaching CU-Boulder student athletes to four consecutive national championships!

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.

schedule a call