5 Unspoken rules for triathletes

The way you treat your fellow racers off the track is just as important, if not more important, than how you treat them during a race. I sat down with some fellow athletes and nonathletes and had a conversation about some of the subtleties of interacting with other triathletes. There are always exceptions to the rules, but here are a few we thought stood out and might surprise some outside of the triathlon, cycling, swimming, and running cultures.

1.   No time!

Unless someone is a good friend, don’t ask directly for their time after a race. You can ask “how did the race go?” but if the time isn’t offered, it could be considered rude to press them.

2.   Don’t play it too cool

Another day on the job for you could be above and beyond another athlete’s wildest dreams. Responding with a bored “I got another Kona slot.” or “I smoked everyone out there. I wish someone could give me some competition.” could easily offend. It is okay to be proud of yourself. Everyone loves a good winner.

3.   The “s” word

In my triathlon club, saying the “s” word (slow) is taboo. Someone might be not as fast as another racer, but they are still out there giving it their all. And calling yourself s*** is no good either if the person next to you isn’t as fast as you. You might be making fun of a time you got that the person next to you would kill for. If you are calling yourself the s-word, by proxy you may be accidentally doing the same to them.

4.   Pacing a racer

Pacing could possibly be one of the nicest things you can do for another racer. You’re sacrificing your own race to make sure they reach their goal, whether it is a specific time or just finishing. But what about when you finally reach the finish line? Do you run ahead, fall back, or cross with them? We had a few perspectives on this one, but in the end decided it is best to talk it over in advance. If all else fails, yielding the finish line to your friend can be a very grand gesture.

5.   The first beer

Who gets the first beer after a long day of training or a particularly tough race? All bets are off and all courtesies are dropped. Knock over the elderly, push a child out of the way–whatever it takes to be the first to the cooler! You earned it.

Image finish line

Thanks to Dennis Killian, Lauren McDonald, Mick Hannah, Kelly Ruiter, and David Ford for sharing their input. Do you agree? Disagree? What did we miss? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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5 Responses to 5 Unspoken rules for triathletes

  1. mwballou says:

    Loved this post. I am new to blogging and not sure of the etiquette. Do I need to ask permission to reblog? Either way, excellent rules to Tri by!

    • Steve B. says:

      Hello Mwballou. Thanks for reading. I am glad you enjoyed it. Feel free to repost, just be sure to credit me, Steven Barcus as the author and link back to the original post!

  2. mwballou says:

    Oh, P.S. This may fall into the category of #3, but I was recently training in a group coached swim, and the guy at the end was clearly faster than everyone there. As he exits the pool after he is done (and I still had another 400M) he announces to the coach (and everyone else there) that the workout was “so hard” and he didn’t know how anyone could finish in an hour. The truth was that I finished in 1:02:00 and was wrecked at that, and no one else finished at all. He basically told everyone there that struggling to finish was pathetic and that he was better than the rest of us. So maybe #6 – Don’t self-depricate as you crush everyone else… Or just… Don’t be a Dick!

    • Steve B. says:

      Ha! That wasn’t very sportsman like of him. Luckily I have found 99% of the people you meet while training to be pretty polite and encouraging. Happy training!

  3. mwballou says:

    Reblogged this on triathlon for dummies and commented:
    I just read this on one of the triathlon blogs that I follow, and agreed with everything said! As you get into triathlon, make sure you follow proper etiquette! Thanks Steven Barcus for the great post!

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