Winter triathlon training: Staying on track

It's back...that time of year where you're packing on pounds as fast as you were slamming gels during the peak of race season just a few months ago. Days are shorter, colder, while holiday functions and end of year work/personal responsibilities are abundant. Snow has covered the ground in many areas of the country and winter is right around the corner. This is a tough time of year to stay motivated and get in quality training time.

While its great to taper back the volume and intensity of your training, reducing the pressure on yourself to perform at peak levels, it is still important to have a plan for the off season just like you do for the rest of the year. With some simple planning you can not only maintain your fitness; you can make positive progress positioning you for a great season next year.

From planning to have your winter gear ready and accessible, to planning nutrition around holiday festivities, and planning to target two to three SMART goals you can work towards during the winter off-season - you can get through the winter blues and have a successful training experience.

Here are three simple, effective tips that will help you make the most of your winter training time.

Hit the trails - Trail running and mountain biking are great activities for a variety of reasons. Trail running helps you build strength, balance and dexterity. Mountain biking also builds strength, particularly in the core, and builds strong bike handling skills. Both can be higher in intensity than running or riding on the road, allowing you to squeeze in a great workout in less time. You can run or ride safely in the dark or low light hours with headlamps/lights and some reflective gear, allowing you to get outside before and after work.

Hit the pool - Spend more time in the pool during the winter months to help prep your self for a stronger start to the race season. Focus this time on what matters most, swimming well. Take some time to evaluate your form and focus on skills/drills that are going to make you a better swimmer. If you can, find a masters group to swim with, find a coach or swim with friends who can help analyze your form and provide you with corrective feedback. These folks will also help you stay motivated and focused on pushing yourself during winter pool workouts.

Hit the gym - Winter is a great time to enhance or begin your strength training program. If weight training isn't your thing or you don't feel comfortable working out in the gym alone, you can find group fitness classes to help guide you and keep you engaged. Getting in the gym, doesn't necessarily mean weight training either. You can take some time to do yoga, pilates, tai-chi, meditation and other practices that are just as good for your mind as they are for your body.

Follow these three tips to keep winter training fun but on track, keeping it stress free and setting you up for a strong start to the season in the new year!

Coach Daniel Scagnelli holds a MS in exercise science, a USA Triathlon coaching license, and is a Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES) through the American College of Sports Medicine. He's been working with endurance athletes since 2009 and joined the OSB coaching group in 2012.