Training Without a Date…Possible?

I’ve been mulling over what to do for my next race. Unfortunately, none of the 10Ks I recently rounded up are working for my schedule and I want to do something more than a 5K. So, of course my brain leaped to HALF MARATHON. Even though the thought of a half marathon is somewhat terrifying to me.

I’ll be rounding up some half marathon options soon, but meanwhile, the reality is this: I want to sign up for a half but I also want to keep degrees of freedom open on the calendar given that this spring is already getting busy with work + family things, including my book launch this month. So I thought, what about training for a half marathon but not signing up until closer in? (The half I’m currently thinking of is in late May.)

So, do you think it’s possible to train for a half marathon without signing up for one? Would I be able to find the motivation or would it be too easy to slack off without a date locked on the calendar? If I did manage to train up, would it then be an emotional blow to go register for the half closer to the date and find out it was sold out? And if the race was sold out, would it feel like enough of an accomplishment to go run 13.1 on my own without evidence of a bib at the end?

I’m so curious about your thoughts here! Please share!


  1. Sarah aka MainlineMom /

    Ok so here’s how it worked for me. I decided to train for a half because my friend convinced me I could do this particular race in October that benefitted adoption, my favorite cause. I signed up for a group training program that started in July, with my sights set on the October race. I didn’t register for the race until I was up to ten miles and knew I could at least finish it. I ended up NOT doing the race due to schedule issues, but then I found myself wanting to run the Houston Half with the rest of my training group, even though it was already sold out. So I ended up buying a bib from someone else.

    I have to have SOME kind of end date in mine in order to do a training plain. It’s just how my engineer brain works. But actually registering for the race isn’t the clincher, it’s telling people I’m gonna run XYZ race that does it for me. Accountability, baby.

  2. Fairly Odd Mother /

    I think that I could get myself psyched up to train to run 10 miles without any kind of end plan. . .then if I found a half I liked, I’d just go and sign up a month or so in advance and work on adding another mile or two to my training. You sure you don’t want to do a half with me on May 5th by the way????

  3. Fairly Odd Mother /

    And don’t forget the Harvard Pilgrim “Finish at the 50″ 10K on July 3rd at 6pm! It’s a HUGE race—-very well organized though there are a ton of people—and you finish on the 50 yard line at Patriots Stadium. I did it and it was hot, but they light off fireworks at around 9pm, so it makes for a fun evening.

  4. Kara /

    I know myself, and I won’t stick to a training plan unless there is a real date on the line (not to mention the $!!!). I am running the Wine Country Half in Santa Ynez, CA on May 11th!

  5. Elena /

    My preference is always to register in advance for two reasons: the first is that so many races in my area tend to fill up, and some might call me a bit “crazed” about meeting deadlines, registrations, and the like…and 2) I feel more accountable when it is official. You on the other hand, can rock just about anything- so I have no doubt that even if you wait to register, you will take those 13.1 miles by storm!

  6. Marie /

    I’m struggling with this as well. I have no race in my immediate future. I couldn’t find one in my area for our winter dash and it’s been holding me back. I really do need to “Sign up” for something and it will get me more motivated. I think that the actual signing up is big for me. Even if it’s not for a long while, at least I’ve paid and committed, it helps me train.

    Now, I know you, and you’re much better at this stuff than me. I really think YOU could do it, train with no race on the schedule. Especially since things are crazy. AND you could “train” for the 5k at Mom 2.0. That’s soon and could keep you going until you find something for a half after.

  7. Christine Koh /

    Ah, Sarah. Yes, maybe I just need to hold myself accountable by telling people or virtually training in tandem! Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  8. Christine Koh /

    Christina, what’s the May 5 race? Maybe I could join you last minute!

  9. Christine Koh /

    @Kara – go you! @Elena, I love your level of “crazed” organization. :-) And @Marie let’s run the Mom 2.0 5K!

  10. Wifey /

    I think having the commitment in place is always helpful, but sure I think you can do it if that’s how you need to roll! Get some accountability partners, *ahem*, and you’ll do great!

    Cheering you on!

    Winks & Smiles,

  11. catie /

    i agree with what people have said above. i always need a race of some sort on my horizon, or i won’t get my butt out the door to run. maybe that’s just because of the cold this winter, but until i made up my mind to run my second half in may, i was hardly running at all!

    plus, most races have early registration discounts. so the earlier you sign up, the better the price!

  12. RookieMom Heather /

    I need a race. I’ll go sign up right this second.


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