Training Etiquette

A few common-sense pointers when training

Phoenix Triathlon Club (Guildford) prides itself on being a relaxed and relatively informal club, and we look to keep rules to a minimum, preferring to rely on knowledge, courtesy and common-sense. That said, everyone has joined a club for the first time at some point, and may not be familiar with some commonly accepted points of etiquette.

We hope you find the following useful, and not too SHOUTY!

The Phoenix Triathlon Committee

Swimming and pool etiquette

Pick your lane. We usually have more than one lane where people self-grade based on their speed and stamina compared to others in the pool. It’s up to you to judge where you fit in compared to other swimmers. If you’re unsure, it might make sense to start in a more relaxed lane, then move across if you want to. The standard in the pool may vary from one day to the next, based on who is training.

Choose your distance. There should always be enough capacity in the pool to allow a gap of a few seconds between you and the person in front. This reduces over-taking or bunching up.

Overtaking. If you catch the person in front of you and wish to overtake then you should gently but distinctly touch the feet of the swimmer in front of you. People may be accustomed to be tapped accidentally, so it may take two or three taps. Overtaking  swimmers should not need to repeatedly slap the feet or legs of a slower swimmer to make their presence known!

A lead swimmer who feels a touch on the feet from an overtaking swimmer, should continue to the next wall, then stop in the corner of the lane to let faster swimmers through.

Drafting. Unless the session is a specific drafting session, drafting is not usually necessary or recommended.

Resting. Stay tucked into the corner if resting between sets so other swimmers have room to turn and push off. If resting or starting, don’t push off in front of an approaching swimmer unless you’re sure you are faster and they won’t catch you.

Tumble turns. Only use this manoeuvre if you are confident there is no one behind you because you might collide as they reach the end of the lane. If the coast is clear, make sure you exit the wall on the other side of the lane.

Swim “toys”. Most sessions will use one or more of fins, pull-buoy or hand-paddles. You may be able to borrow items, but it’s best to have your own.

No bombing, diving, petting etc. There’s no fun in life, is there?!

Group riding

Group rides are great fun but with larger groups of riders comes higher risk and in order to ensure these rides remain safe as well as fun training, it is important that everyone follows a set of rules.

Always bear in mind that everyone in the group may not be as confident or have as good bike handling skills as you.

Always wear a helmet. No helmet = No ride!

Have fun. Above all, the club runs are fun. Even when it’s snowing. There may be some rules but it’s about enjoying getting out on the bike.

Highway Code. When riding, first and foremost you must at all time comply with the Highway Code and more than that, you must ride with courtesy and respect for other road users. That means NOT jumping red lights, riding on pavements etc. You are responsible, not only for your own safety but for other riders around you.

Say hello. If you’re new, please identify yourself to the ride leader. Please listen to them, as they will explain how the ride works and where it’s going.

Wear club kit. Please wear club kit if you have it. If not, Kitman will be happy to do you a deal.

Keep your bike in good condition. Punctures or mechanicals happen from time to time but if you look after your bike, service it regularly and clean it after rides you will have less of them. When they do happen, the group will wait.

Bring a pump and spares such as an inner tube and tyre levers.

Be on time. 09:00 means the group leaves at 09:00. If you are late they may have left without you.

Start times may vary so please check.

ID. Ensure you have some ID on you with details of your next of kin.

Don’t race. The club ride is a social ride, it is NOT a race. You can race to your heart’s content in organised competitive events but please not on group rides. Anyone accelerating ahead of the group will not be called after or chased after if they take a wrong turn.

We normally wait for people who go off the back of the ride. We do NOT wait for people who go off the front.

Wait at the top of hills. At other times, rear riders should ensure that no-one is falling behind. If they are, then they should inform those in front and the group should slow to allow it to be reformed.

Everyone is responsible for the rider behind them.

Cycle directly behind the wheel of the rider in front. Don't overlap wheels, or nudge in between the wheels of the riders in front. You will come off if they move off their line. Aim to ride with less than one metre between you and the rider in front. Ride in pairs, NEVER more than two abreast and don’t fan out diagonally across the road.

Warnings. At the front of the group, focus on pointing out obstacles as those behind you won’t see them until it is too late. Use hand signals or if unable, shout. Looking 4-5m ahead will enable you to see them in plenty of time. Everyone else, make sure you repeat the calls / signals for the benefit of those behind you.

Ride single file on small or busy roads.

Don’t spend time looking at your technology. You need to give your full attention to traffic and the riders around you.

Split the group. In a large group, it makes sense to split into 2 or even 3 smaller groups with at least 2 car lengths between each. This gives vehicles a better chance to overtake the group safely.

Avoid braking sharply or making sudden movements. Check over your shoulder for other riders or traffic before moving out to the right. Don’t ride on tri or aero bars in a group as you will be unable to cover the brakes or steer quickly enough.

Don’t pull out at junctions without looking. Having heard the “Clear” call from a fellow cyclist, you should still check whether there is a vehicle coming yourself.

Slow right down when passing horses. Pass them as wide as it is safe to do so. Always call to the horse riders well ahead of catching them – a cheery “Good morning” or “Hello” will work. Keep calling until the riders indicate they know you are there. They may want to turn the horse so it can see you.

Take your turn at the front. But if you’re tiring and suddenly it’s your turn to be on the front, tell the others as it’s fine to take it easy.

Bring money for cake! It’s the main reason we ride.

The more experienced riders are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Watch them and you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick it up.

Wheelies. Best to leave wheelies to Peter Sagan!

Calls and Signals (with thanks to British Cycling)

It is essential that you repeat signals and calls down the line so everyone can see and pass it on.

1 STOP: Hand straight up in air. Group is stopping for a junction, puncture or because there is an
obstruction in the road.

2 SLOW: Move one hand as if gently patting an invisible dog. Group is slowing down or just easing
things back a bit.

3 OBSTRUCTION: Waving/pointing behind back indicates that there is an obstruction such as a
parked car or pedestrian and that the whole group needs to move in the direction indicated to avoid it.

4 TURN: Left or right hand extended out to side. Direction of turn/change in direction coming up.

5 BELOW: Pointing down at road sometimes with a circling motion to obstruction on road such as a pothole or drain cover that needs to be avoided. Be sensible with this one and only point out major obstacles. This signal is often accompanied with a call of “below”.


The coaches run a structured programme through the Winter and Spring with specific training objectives. With a few small points to remember, you’ll get the most from this.

Make space. If you have reserved a bike on the sign-up list, and then find you are unable to attend, please contact the next person on the waiting list at the earliest opportunity so that they can take the vacant bike. The easiest way to do this is to post on the closed Facebook group.

Train the right way. You should look to follow the class if you can, as much of the motivation comes from being a group doing the same thing.

Respect the class. If you’re on Facebook while on a recovery ride while the rest of the group are on
a threshold test, you might get mixed reactions!

Wipe down. We all sweat, or glow, so please wipe and dry the bikes after use.

Heart-rate monitor. The power output of the spin bikes is notoriously unreliable, and more than that, power output is only one measure of what you’re doing. The programme leans heavily on you knowing your heart rate zones, and being able to train to them. For this you will need a heart rate monitor, ideally with a chest strap. This is NOT essential, and need not cost the earth.

People unfamiliar with heart-rate zones only need ask for assistance, and there will be plenty of willing and knowledgeable volunteers.

Running: Road, Trail and Track

Road Running

Visibility. Road running sessions frequently cross roads and/ or we run on lightly used public roads. For your own safety, if the weather is gloomy or dark, please consider wearing high visibility clothing, or reflective bands. Head-torches can be useful but are not essential.

Crossing roads. Common sense applies here. Never rely on following someone without looking.

Staying together. Most runs will have a leader who may not be a coach. They are responsible for planning the session and as far as is possible, keeping the group together. As with cycling, the group will wait for people drifting off the back of the group.

Peeling off. If you need to peel off the run for some reason, please let the leader know, so that the group isn’t waiting for you while you’re watching TV at home.

Trail running

Clothing. The trails we run on can be as variable, as the British weather! Please dress appropriately, and if it’s a longer run, a small running pack with an extra top might be useful.

Hydration and Nutrition. On longer trail runs, please consider your food and nutrition needs. Stopping mid-way through a run for a café stop is unusual.

Staying together. Most runs will have a leader who may not be a coach. They are responsible for planning the session and as far as is possible, keeping the group together. As with cycling, the group will wait for people drifting off the back of the group.

Peeling off. If you need to peel off the run for some reason, please let the leader know, so that the group isn’t waiting for you while you’re watching TV at home.

Track running

Time-keeping. The coaches run structured programmes, frequently based on split-times for run
segments. A watch or stop-watch is highly useful, and it doesn’t need to be NASA grade.

Liquid. A sport bottle with water or your favourite electrolyte is always worth having.

Making way. If you finish a split, gasping for air, please be mindful of people who may be following you, and make way by moving to one side.


Enjoy yourself, and say Hello!