Control the Controllables – Puncture Session

You have been training for months. It’s finally race day. The bike is racked, the wetsuit is zipped up, and you are ready to knock it out of the park. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not a stupid question. What could go wrong on race day? Plenty. Mechanical problems, making mistakes with nutrition, pacing, accident or injury. No matter how well you prepare, you need to be ready for things to go wrong.

We have been working on controlling the controllables and not getting stressed about the things you can’t control. What if it pours with rain on race day? There is NOTHING you can do to prevent that, but you can control your reaction to the conditions – think about your clothing choices, test out all the potential kit you might use so you are comfortable with whatever you need on the big day.

What if you get a puncture? Bloody annoying. Easy to allow something like that to derail your race, but there is no point getting stressed about the possibility. Much better to think about how you would react in a race situation and, if needs be, practice.

Last week, we did a puncture session that you could easily replicate. If you haven’t had much experience of changing a tube, then the only way to get that experience and skill is to practice. Better to practice on your drive than in a high wind at the top of a moor. Even if you are confident changing a tube, it’s still a good idea to practice under pressure and simulated race conditions.


Here’s the simple session that we ran last week. You could do this on your own or with friends:

1.       Change the tube in the front tyre – we did this step by step as a group.

2.       Change the tube in the rear tyre – individuals did this at their own speed. Good to practice getting the rear wheel on and off as part of the process.

3.       Change the tube under race conditions:

·         Short interval run session to get the heart rate up.

·         We just did five laps of a 500m loop. Easy, fast, easy, fast, easy.

·         When the triathletes returned to their bikes, one of their tyres was flat. (You’re welcome.)

·         Change the tube under pressure with the heart pumping and the clock ticking.


This was really useful session for the triathletes. On a basic level, it was good to practice. But it also highlighted a couple of kit choices that might be different – small hand pumps vs CO2 canisters, for example.

I think the biggest win from doing a session like this is peace of mind. You might get a puncture in a race – there’s not a lot you can do to control that happening. But how you react to that setback is well within your control. I believe that these athletes will be quicker at changing a tube than before the practice session, but more importantly, they will be less worried about the possibility. It’s one more controllable controlled.