As we head into the off-season and we look ahead to our goals for 2020, there are a few areas we can work on that will close the gap between where you’ve been and where you want to go. I will share some low hanging fruit with you that will take little to no effort and you will learn more about yourself and your training which will translate to your goals.

One of the easiest ways to be faster is to be as fit or as lean as you can be, within reason. I don’t think body composition should consume your life as you’re managing the other 23 things you have going on, but I do think having the optimal body composition for your goals is crucial. How do you execute that? Keep a meal log for a week and see what you are actually eating so you can evaluate what needs to go away and what needs to stay. Eat more of the good stuff (clean and organic helps) and less of the processed foods (you know this, the bad stuff). It’s more than just calories in vs. calories out but this is a good place to start. Eating high-quality food and controlling portion size is important as well. As I like to say, “You won’t get fat eating 6 apples a day and a pile of vegetables.”

Another easy way to see what you need in your nutritional program has to do with what you’re lacking in your daily meals. Getting a blood test twice a year will help with this. D3 has a great partnership with the team at InsideTracker. They will look over your blood results and even recommend what foods you need to eat more of in order to bring your values back into the correct ranges. I’ve been using them for a number of years and each year I get a little bit closer to having all my values within the correct ranges. It’s hard to balance everything at one time, but doing a semi-annual check-up lets you know where you need to work and where you are doing well. I highly recommend getting a blood draw. One recommendation to note is to not do this within 6 weeks of an A race as it takes around that time to rebuild what you lose in blood volume from a blood draw.

Another task that can provide you with a ton of information without you doing much more than performing a few exercises for a personal trainer is a Functional Movement Screen. Do you know if your right glute is firing? How is your mobility? What about flexibility and strength? These are all covered in a FMS and any certified strength coach can administer a test. Post-test you are looking for the corrective exercises that will allow you to improve on your weakest areas. An athlete who has a good base of functional movement is an athlete who can add load to their training – once you can do that, you will be a stronger and faster athlete.

Sweat tests are tests you can have performed to determine accurate electrolyte losses. This isn’t a simple “run in the heat and measure your fluid loss”, although that is useful as well. This is more along the lines of knowing what you are actually losing during hotter conditions when you are exercising. Research has actually shown that the differences in athletes can vary up to eight times in the same conditions. Relying on a general guideline may work for some, but chances are if you are serious, you’ll get a test done and use a more accurate testing procedure.

The old adage that you never know what you look like on video until you see yourself on video can’t be more true than when you have your swim form filmed. Having a Swim Video Analysis is a real eye-opener! Filming above and below water is essential and having a coach break it down for you is very important. If you are interested in having a swim analysis done with a D3 coach, you can email me ( and we can schedule a remote analysis for $99 during November only ($125 otherwise). It’s simple to do; all you have to do is swim 100 yards (meters) at a moderate clip and have a helper record your video.

Lastly, look at what you’ve done in past seasons. And herein lies the reason to keep a log book or track everything on Training Peaks. Keeping good notes on how you felt, what you ate, how tired you were going into the workout due to work obligations, lack of sleep, etc. is key. When you start building out season of 15 hour training weeks and 750 annual hours it looks great on paper until you look at your log and realize the best you’ve done all year is 10 hours or training a week and 500 annual hours. So, keep it in perspective and ask your coach for help!

These are a few simple ways to get ready for next season without having to do anything more than make a few appointments and be diligent with your record keeping. Having these baselines to check in at this time next year will make the next season even better. Good luck with improving this offseason and please contact me if you need any help.

D3 Head Coach Mike Ricci is a USAT Level III Elite Coach and was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year. 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.

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