What To Do When You Haven't Trained For A Race - Erin's Inside Job

What To Do When You Haven’t Trained For A Race

I found myself asking this same question over the weekend as I realized that my first half marathon of the year is coming up in 5 weeks and I have had no structured training for it whatsoever. Whoops.

Let’s talk about what to do when you haven’t trained for a race.

What To Do When You Havent Trained For A Race

There are a number of excuses reasons I have for not being as dedicated to training as I was last year, and while some of them are valid, some are not quite:

  • I don’t like running on the treadmill as much anymore and it has been too cold/hot/wet/crowded outside
  • My last training plan was 12 weeks and I didn’t follow it exactly so I can just pick up later on into the plan
  • My new shoes are causing me shin splints and the last time I ran with those I ended up with a stress fracture, so let’s rest
  • I have been active with strength and HIIT classes so I should be able to pick up running where I left off

Before you know it, there’s only a few weeks until go time.  I want to take some time to respond to aforementioned excuses reasons and talk about what to do when you find yourself in this position.

1. “I don’t like running on the treadmill as much anymore and it has been too cold/hot/wet/crowded outside”

It’s true that I am not as big of a fan of treadmill running as I used to be when I had an entire cardio cinema at my disposal. I also discovered the benefits of running with a partner, something I thought I would never enjoy. Yes, I live in Chicago and it gets cold. Basically I can make lots of excuses for why I’m not running, but these ones are not valid if I am actually trying to train for a race.

2. “My last training plan was 12 weeks and I didn’t follow it exactly so I can just pick up later on into the plan”

Last year I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half Marathon plan, which is 12 weeks long. Since it was my first half, I was terrified and wanted to make sure that I followed that plan to a T. I started the plan with 8 weeks left to go, but was already running consistently so it wasn’t a huge deal that I had missed the first four weeks. As I continued running through the plan (ha), I started to slightly alter the weekly mileage recommendations to fit my schedule, but always made sure to get that week’s long run done.

I found that slight alterations didn’t ruin my training, so this time around my over-confident self decided I could do whatever I wanted in terms of weekly mileage. To date, the farthest I have run in training for this race is 7 miles. I should have run 9 this weekend. Not too big of a gap, but having barely run at all during the week, it’s enough to make me anxious.

3.  “My new shoes are causing me shin splints and the last time I ran with those I ended up with a stress fracture, so let’s rest”

Ok, this one is definitely legitimate.  The last time I ran through the pain of shin splints I ended up with a (self-diagnosed) stress fracture that left me sidelined for 2 weeks, so I am extra wary when I notice any pain in my shins.

I got new running shoes since it was time, but since they are a different brand (Asics) than what I normally wear (Brooks), they have taken some getting used to.  I had been running in the Brooks Transcend, which is a super monster shoe that protects my feet/shins/body like a fortress (I think that may be the actual description).  My new Asics are appropriate for me based on my running analysis, but are not quite as heavy duty. While my body readjusts to a new type of shoe and most likely an altered running gait, I have experienced sore calves and more recently shin splints. This weekend I bought some insoles that are supposed to help provide more arch support, so let’s see how that goes.

4. “I have been active with strength and HIIT classes so I should be able to pick up running where I left off”

I know that running is a totally different beast than strength training or HIIT workouts, but I have chosen to ignore that fact and continue working out 3-4 days at Sweat or in my building’s gym (which also coincidentally has treadmills I could be running on).  Just because I have been getting in good workouts doesn’t mean they are the right workouts. Cross training is important, but if you are training for a run, you need to run. Period.

Tips On What To Do When You Haven’t Trained For A Race

Ok, so I still have a few weeks to prepare for this half, but if I don’t start making some changes now I am going to find myself totally unprepared.  Here are some tips for making sure you can still rock whatever you are training for:

  1. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone – dont like running on a treadmill? Too bad. If it’s the only training option you have, you take it.
  2. Make a plan and stick to it – Plan out workouts for whatever remaining time you have left and follow through. You have less wiggle room when you start getting down to the wire.
  3. Alter your training schedule for the activity you are preparing for – Training for a race? Your calendar should have a higher running to cross training ratio.
  4. Do your best – if you’ve cut it too close and there’s really no time to train, just do your best. No one can fault you for that!


  • Have you ever cut it close in your training? What are some of your tips for a successful race?
  • What’s your worst excuse for not training?
  • What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

21 comments on “What To Do When You Haven’t Trained For A Race

  1. My worst excuse has probably been “I don’t feel like it.” LOL sad, but true. Horrible excuse! I have only done one half marathon in my life. I love to run, but the training can be require a lot of dedication when I’d rather be doing other stuff with my workout. That said, I’m totally getting back into it and hopefully won’t end up on the treadmill too often!
    Erin recently posted…Motivation ManifestoMy Profile

    1. There is definitely a lot of preparation involved if running isn’t something you do all the time. Im trying to let these shin splints calm down before I head back out, but I’m impatient!

      I hope it stops raining there so much and you don’t have to be on the treadmill either!

    1. That’s been my method for all my other races. I’m not really in competition with anyone so I always just run them for fun. Thanks for reading!

    1. It definitely is. I have injured myself enough that I know I need to slow my roll sometimes (ha). I get too impatient and end up pushing myself too far so I’ve learned to take cues from my body now thankfully 🙂

  2. Good news — I’m not training for a race. After one half-marathon a few years ago, I decided to give up my running career for a group fitness obsession instead. However, I agree with you that you can’t make excuses and then just hope for the best. Starting immediately with a plan needs to happen. I think you can do it Erin! And all of that cross training will definitely help you spring back into running shape! 🙂
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…A sunny weekend recap and my weekly workoutsMy Profile

    1. I sure hope so! Now I just have to get rid of these shin splints…

      Group fitness is awesome. I also coach bootcamp/HIIT type classes and love the atmosphere!

    1. Haha let’s hope so. The past two days have been super light at 11:30 but thankfully 4:30 gets pretty full. I want to see your face again!

  3. Ohhhh shin splints are no joke! Which Asics are you wearing? I’m not sure what it is with shin splints but it’s like once there’s a flare up, the tendency to flare BACK up increases a thousand-fold. If you even PLAN to increase your mileage, the shins start to ache. I hope you’re able to settle them down in a hot hurry.
    Suzy recently posted…Abraham Lincoln Had a Step MomMy Profile

    1. I got the Gel-DS Trainers this time. My other Brooks were like an armored tank for my foot, so these don’t have as much protection and my legs are definitely letting me know. I’m going to try and lay off the running for a bit to let my shins heal and then slowly start to add it back in…like there’s time for that before the race, right?

    1. Definitely. I like to listen to my body and take it easy when I need to, but sometimes I also need a kick in the butt!

  4. I think if I hadn’t actually hadn’t properly trained for a race, I would not participate in it. I am a big fan of signing up for races a week or two in advance for this very reason… That said, sometimes struggling through a race is great motivation for training for the next one. You seem like you are quite fit so I’m sure five weeks will be plenty of time for training. Good luck!
    Diana recently posted…21 minute 5K?My Profile

    1. That’s actually a good plan. I registered for a race a couple years ago MONTHS in advance bc it was a goal of mine. It made me a little nervous bc I didn’t know what would come up and don’t you know I hurt myself and wasn’t able to successfully run for the entire summer. It’s a balance (for me) of trying to save money by registering early and not doing it too far in advance!

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