Mind Your Manners

Training is tough and competition can be fierce, but that doesn't mean you should leave your manners at home


Posted: 18 November 2009
by Nicola Joyce

I like to think I'm a well brought-up triathlete. I wave at other runners and swim in the correct direction during lane swims. I draw the line at loaning other competitors my bike, for obvious reasons, but you take my point. I think I'm well behaved and I think that's important.

Louise Jones, sport psychologist at theTriLife.co.uk, says that minding your manners is about more than just maintaining the sport's reputation: observing proper etiquette can actually improve your performance.

"For a positive environment to develop, it is important that certain rules are followed and that everyone is clear about them," she says. "Research suggests that if you are relaxed you will perform better. When triathletes are relaxed in the knowledge that others are also abiding by the rules, they will be happier and more successful."

In the pool

In the limited space of a swim lane, failing to follow a few simple rules will soon cause havoc, making the session a stressful experience for everyone.

Think again

Triathlete and former international swimmer Helen Gorman, of TFN Tri Club and Nottingham Leander Swimming Club, advises people to rethink their swim session rather than becoming annoyed: "If the lane is busy, think about doing a technique session. Most triathletes neglect technique work, so it will be a good excuse to do some. You could also speak to other people in your lane to see if you can fit in with each other and do a joint set."

Which lane?

If it's a public session, pay attention to the lane signs and choose the one that suits your speed. In a club scenario, be honest about your capabilities so you can be assigned the correct lane.

Overtaking

It's frustrating to be stuck behind a slower swimmer, but it can be hazardous to try overtaking. Wait until there's enough free space, and only overtake if you know you have the speed to do so.

The best place to overtake is at the end of the lane. Gently tap the toes of the person in front of you; this means you want to pass. If it happens to you, the correct thing to do is pause briefly at the wall, moving slightly to one side so the stronger swimming can push off in front of you.

On the bike

It's simple: follow the rules of the road if you want to stay safe. It's also useful to be aware of the etiquette handed down from cycling clubs.

Group riding

By all means ride on someone's wheel, but only do so if you're confident. Hand signals to other riders are important - point downward to draw attention to hazards.

"Verbal communication and hand signals are key," says Les Kennedy, a triathlete with a cycling background. "A shout of 'easy' if you know the group is approaching a sharp bend could avoid mishaps. A big no-no is half-wheeling (letting your wheel get slightly ahead of another cyclist). Your annoyed cycling buddy will increase pace, leading to a flat-out race."

Finally no one likes to be hit by - how to put this? - fast-moving nasal material, so if you need to clear your nose, make sure you don't do so into a strong wind.

Going solo

If a faster rider comes past, let him or her overtake rather than holding them up. Help create a sense of solidarity by nodding or saying "hi" to other riders, particularly if they're triathletes (you can usually tell). And always put your gel and bar wrappers back in your jersey pocket.

Other road users

Observing the rules will keep you safer in traffic. Don't ride in completely dark kit; you're not a ninja. Look and signal before turning, pulling over or moving into the middle of the road. Never pull out of a junction in front of a car, and always try to make eye contact with the driver whose lane you're pulling into. Wave a quick thank you to anyone who gives you a wide berth. And, tempting as it is, try to avoid gesticulating wildly at anyone who drives badly. It's just not worth the bother.

On the run

Running doesn't have a lot of rules, and that's what a lot of people love about it. Still, a few simple niceties make for a more pleasant running environment for us all.

Road running

If you're forced by circumstance to run where there's no pavement, always run facing traffic. Stop at junctions and, as with cycling, try to make eye contact with other road users so you know they've seen you. Give pedestrians space - they're an unpredictable breed and have been known to stop, turn, point or wave their arms without warning. Try carrying keys in your pocket; the jingling sound will let them know you're approaching.

Richard Melik, a runner and triathlete with Serpentine Triathlon Club, has noted a clear difference between town and country runners: "When I head out of my hometown of London, I notice that runners are friendlier and quicker to smile or say hello. I'd encourage inner-city runners to acknowledge fellow runners; it makes every run a better experience."

Track running

Incorporating track training into your running schedule is a great way to boost speed. Always warm up and cool down using one of the outside lanes, and move off the track completely to stretch or fiddle with bits of kit. It's important that you develop confidence as an athlete, but only use the inside lane if you're sure you're the fastest runner there.

Race day

Race-day adrenaline can cause some of us to forget our manners, but the general opinion is that triathletes are a polite bunch. Keep up the good work by listening to race officials, thanking marshals and being friendly to other competitors. After all, ours is one of the few sports in which newcomers can prepare for their race alongside top age-groupers.

In transition

There's a strict no-nudity rule at transition in this country, but some people are still caught out. Think about what you're wearing before you put on your wetsuit. Rack sensibly and with some thought for others, and try your best not to knock over anything when you go through T1 and T2.

Simon Pearson, a triathlete with the Runnersworld.co.uk PSOF Tri Club, says, "Transition is the only place I've experienced any lack of politeness from fellow triathletes. I often find myself scrambling around my racking area for gloves, glasses or helmet - or all three, as was the case at a 2008 race, where some super-fast people had sent my stuff flying in their haste to get out on the bike." Keep your wits about you and stay out of others' way in transition.

Keep clear

Being held up by other athletes can be frustrating when the clock is ticking. At the end of an open-water swim, try to keep moving. Many athletes will stop abruptly, creating a bottleneck that affects those further back in the field. Similarly, moving away from the mount/dismount line of the bike leg will help avoid congestion. Should you run into trouble during the race, move to one side if you can so you can receive help without causing a pile-up.

By remembering these few simple rules and ways of conducting yourself, you'll be helping to make the world of triathlon a happier place. And that will benefit all of us.


Oh, the indignity

Avoid these embarrassing situations at all costs.

"Never wear light-coloured bike shorts if there's a chance it will rain. I still have nightmares about the yellow ones my mate bought to match his Tour de France leader's jersey. Halfway into a 60-mile ride, the heavens opened. The poor quality of the shorts quickly became apparent. No one would ride his wheel again and he was relegated to the back."
Les Kennedy, triathlete and road cyclist

"At a long-distance race in 2007, I was in the T1 changing tent and could not help noticing that the young lady sitting on the floor in front of me wasn't wearing anything at all. When it came to T2, the tables were turned: I needed to change from bike to run kit, but this time there was no changing tent. There was nothing for it but a quick flash."
Dave Bottoms, triathlete

"I was part of the way through the swim leg of a half-Ironman event when I realised that I had to pee. Immediately. Maybe it was the pre-race coffee, maybe it was nerves. Whatever the cause, let's just say that I pitied the athletes next to me in T1 when I had to peel off my wetsuit. In future I will try harder to find a toilet, or train myself to wait."
Jack Smith, triathlete and mountain-biker


Previous article
Reach Your Peak for Race Day
Next article
Look Your Best

 
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle


Discuss this article

"I was part of the way through the swim leg of a half-Ironman event when I realised that I had to pee. Immediately."

Surely the swim is the time to pee. If you're chasing a good time, pee in the water as much as possible prior to getting on the bike, as its much harder to pee on the bike (and a little more obvious for those following you!!!


Posted: 21/12/2009 at 09:16

What do you think fish do when they need to!!
Posted: 21/12/2009 at 10:07


JD.

cougie has a good point thought, no need ot see your mate winking at you as you cycle along.

when racing wee when you want i reckon.  weeing as ran along T1 and when cycling at IMDE remains my most remorable moment as does finding out i could wee and swim at the same time at IMCH.


Posted: 21/12/2009 at 10:22

Wee'd about 5 times in the water at IMUK, think it was almost bordering on propulsion.
Posted: 23/12/2009 at 16:50

Manners. that's a joke, triathletes and cyclists are some of the most ignorant feckers I have ever met.


Posted: 23/12/2009 at 17:18

What about a number 2?????? Is there a best time to do this?
Posted: 23/12/2009 at 19:07

Surely it isn't peeing when you're in the water...it's stoking the boiler?!

Perhaps that's just confined to surfer talk.

Seriously though, even though you are in for a long swim, wetsuits work because of the lack of flow of water within them, so the pee isn't washed out as well as you might think. Hygenic - to a point, but not good for stiching or seeams after a while so wash well. Also doesn't help the value if you mention it on Ebay.


Posted: 23/12/2009 at 19:43

No shit;O)
Posted: 24/12/2009 at 00:25

A number 2 would be fine if you could be certain of it taking a leg exit and not the neck exit.... someone want to run a trial set and feedback on the probability of a neck exit?

Thought not.


Posted: 24/12/2009 at 12:37

I love the bit about considerate triathletes in the swimming pool. In my experience at Tooting Bec, these are the most ignorant people I have ever met, changing temperaments as they pull on their wet suits and relishing swimming over people or into them. Still maybe if they're told they will learn common decency...
Posted: 29/05/2010 at 18:12

That was the idea
Posted: 29/05/2010 at 21:14

all the people i've seen at tooting bec have been perfectly charming, and i've never seen anyone there barge into or over someone else...
Posted: 30/05/2010 at 01:19

I almost make a point of making sure that i get into the water at the beginning of a race busting for a pee, so that the initial shock of the cold water can be immediately countered by the warm spread of the contents of my bladder filling my suit. At some races you dont get any time to warm up in the water so this really is the only way to acclimatise!

 Btw this of course only applies to open water starts - i'd definately advise holding it in for a pool swim...


Posted: 31/05/2010 at 10:27

Hee hee, stop at road junctions on a run. 
Posted: 31/05/2010 at 10:34

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.