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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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 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.
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.
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