Sometimes life just happens, and you get derailed from your training plan. From a hectic work schedule to a busy social life, even the best intentions to train for a race can be met with challenges that make getting in even a quick run nearly impossible.
Before you know it, the race you signed up for months ago is looming and you aren't nearly as prepared as you'd hoped. If you don't race, you lose the cost of the entry fee, and if you do race, you risk feeling terrible—or a DNF.
Luckily, there are a few strategies you can employ to get you to the finish line happy and injury-free.
Transfer or Defer
In some instances, your best bet is to see if the race offers transfers or deferrals. If a deferral is offered and you'd rather run the race on full training, you can wait to race until the following year.
Otherwise, a transfer to a shorter distance (if the race offers it) is a great way to still participate in the event, but not run a distance you aren't prepared for. For example, if you registered for a full marathon but aren't quite in the shape for it, see if the race will allow you to drop down to the half marathon or 10K. This is a great way to still participate and finish with a medal.
Try a Run/Walk Method
If you are a runner, try the run/walk method. Many racers employ the run/walk method during races of all distances and finish with more than enough time to spare. This method allows for various ratios of running to walking. By figuring out what ratio works best for you (and sticking to it), you can finish your race and avoid getting injured or skipping it altogether.
An example of a run/walk ratio could be five minutes of running and one minute of walking, repeated until you reach the finish line. It's different for everyone, however, so make sure you do what is right for you.
Make sure to stick to your allotted run and walk time periods for the duration of the race, stay to the right side of the course and raise your arm when your walk break begins so that no one runs into you. This method will come in handy when the mileage ticks up and you become fatigued.