Free triathlon training guides and tips can be found everywhere these days, as the sport is rapidly growing in popularity with people of all ages.

The triathlon consists of three events: swimming, biking, and running, performed in that respective sequence. Unlike marathons, cycling races, or swimming relays, this sport combines three disciplines, therefore making it an extremely difficult one to master.

Triathletes must develop multisport training regimens that address each of these disciplines equally, sometimes spending more time emphasizing whichever discipline they view as their weakest.

Because the triathlon is a very unique event, there are many things triathletes need to consider that those training for single discipline racing events, such as the marathon, do not. The following tips and suggestions will help you cut time and increase your overall performance during your next triathlon.

Free Triathlon Training Tip #1

Master the art of transition. Transitions are the biggest difference between triathlons and single discipline races, and therefore create the most significant problems for new triathletes. The transition area is where racers head between disciplines. After swimming, a racer will need to remove his or her wetsuit and any other swimming gear that he or she chooses to remove, and prepare for the biking portion of the race. Similarly, after biking (though an easier transition) racers must prepare to complete the event by running to the finish line.

The biggest killer is that transition time is added to your overall race time, making it even more imperative that you transition from one portion of the race to the next as quickly and smoothly as possible. No triathlete wants to finish in a lower position due to poor transition times. Because of this, veteran triathletes utilize the same set of rituals regarding how they organize their transition areas for each race they participate in. Each piece of equipment is place in a particular spot to ensure that the racer will be as efficient during transitions as possible. Examples of these time savers include wearing the same suit that you swim in for biking and running, and wearing running shoes with drawstrings that tighten from a single pull (and therefore don't need to be tied).

Depending on how competitive you are, transition times may not matter as much to you. Nonetheless, nobody likes to look silly and disorganized in the transition zone. Practice your transitions and equipment changes prior to race day to guarantee that you will be able to at least transition smoothly, if not quickly.

Free Triathlon Training Tip #2

A wetsuit is your friend. This is a key factor, especially for those who are poor swimmers. Some triathlons do not allow wetsuits; however, many do, and if used properly wetsuits will greatly improve your comfort and speed in the water.

A wetsuit is extremely buoyant, and therefore will allow you to remain afloat in the water much more easily. This not only increases the speed with which you can skim across the water, it also reduces the amount of energy you will need to expend (which can be a great deal for poor swimmers) during the first leg of the race. This is crucial, as any extra energy that is wasted during the swim can no longer be used during the biking or running portion of the race.

Free Triathlon Training Tip #3

Utilize a high biking cadence before the run. When transitioning from the biking portion of the triathlon to the running portion of the triathlon, focus on biking at a higher cadence (e.g. 110 rpm instead of 80 rpm). Though running and biking work many similar muscle groups, they emphasize them in drastically different ways.

By increasing the speed with which you pedal at the end of the biking portion of the race, you will effectively loosen up your leg muscles and decrease the amount of stiffness that you will feel as you begin running. A higher cadence (to a certain extent) also allows you to move quickly on a bike without feeling as tired. This will greatly help because you want your muscles to feel as fresh as possible heading into the final stage of the race.

Free Triathlon Training Tip #4

Use a road bike. If you want to be a serious competitor in triathlons, consider purchasing (or borrowing) a road bike. Not only do road bikes provide the ability to clip your feet to the pedals, therefore providing more power and less wasted energy as you bike, they are also extremely light and aerodynamic when compared to mountain bikes or hybrid bikes.

Because of these characteristics, simply competing on a road bike will improve your total race time by over one minute. Do you need to purchase a top of the line $3,000 bike to compete? Not at all! Older road bikes will decrease your time just as well. These can be found extremely cheap, and slightly altered to increase their ability to function as quality triathlon bikes.

Free Triathlon Training Tip #5

Complete "mini-triathlons" before race day. Every triathlete will dedicate some amount of his or her training to running, biking, and swimming prior to race day; however, many fail to make the connection that they will be doing all three activities in succession, without rest, on race day.

To improve your ability to handle transitions, as well as your physical ability to move from one strenuous form of exercise directly to the next, practice "mini-triathlons" once or twice before race day. Cut the distances for each discipline in half, and focus on transitions as well as what feels out of place.

By doing this, you will be able to identify which areas of your training require a stronger emphasis, and ultimately how you will be able to cut even more time from your results when race day rolls around.

Putting It All together

Despite the difficulty of mastering the triathlon, becoming a recreational triathlete is fun, challenging, and enjoyable. Use these free triathlon training tips to help you improve your current training regimen and, more importantly, your overall performance during your next triathlon!