How to Run a Half-Marathon with Absolutely No Training

26 Jun

*DISCLAIMER: This is a really terrible idea and you have to be a few crayons short of box (like me) to actually run a half-marathon with no training. But if you choose to pursue this wildly ridiculously course of action here is how to not die on the course, which with no training, is the only measure of success.*

Back in February, I signed up to run the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon. It was my first half-Mary last year and I was determined to rock this course. My head was filled with thoughts of “I will PR this beast” “I will own this course” and “I will run 5:30 min/miles and become an elite runner as destiny intended”. Obviously, going from a steady 10-10:30 min/mile to a 5:30 min/mile was completely achievable (SPOILER: it’s not) and all I needed was a beautiful, color-coded training plan (and also a new body, one that is designed for elite running and not persistent shin splints).

So, I made my beautiful color-coded training plan. I purchased shiny new running shoes. I hoarded Gu and Gatorade in preparation for long runs. But, somehow those long runs never took place. Barely any runs took place. Despite taping my color-coded plan to both the fridge and my wall at work, I simply never ran. Two or three teams a week I would make a half-assed effort and get my sorry butt out the door for 30 mins, or I’d lift a few paltry weights for 20 mins. But that was it. No speed training, no long runs, no cross-training. Nada. My motivation had escaped me and was now cleverly disguising itself. Without any motivation, I was too lazy to look for it.

Suddenly, it was the day before the half and I found myself with a color-coded training plan, a snazzy pair of shoes, plenty of Gu, and zero training. My longest run since Marine Corps Marathon in October was 6 miles. I couldn’t recall what a track looked like as I hadn’t been near one since the previous summer. And my runner’s legs were starting to resemble cankles.

Now, I could have used that lovely little thing called a brain and decided not to run this half-marathon. Attempting a half with no training sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Not so, said a stubborn little voice in my head. What’s the big deal, the voice whispered, you’ve run a marathon before the half is nothing! And so I found myself at the starting line of MCHHM with zero training under my belt, working hard to hyperventilate and/or pretend I was simply a spectator who had gotten lost in the corrals. 13 years later (at least that’s what it felt like to my untrained legs) I crossed the finish line, collected my medal, and downed a beer in record time (the perfect recovery fuel). I also declared myself an expert in running half-marathons with no training, and I will now impart all of my acquired wisdom to you lucky readers who stumbled here by accident when you searched for actual half-marathon training plans:

1) Have previously run and properly trained for a half-marathon. Seriously, if you have never trained for a half before, or you are just a few months into running, STOP READING AND DO NOT DO THIS. Half-marathons are hard with proper training, they are even harder without training and they are impossible if you are a newbie and have no training.

2) Wear good shoes. Not good-looking shoes, but shoes that you have been fitted for. At a running store. Run in them several times before the race. You will seriously regret this otherwise.

3) However slow you think you should go, go slower. With no training, you are not going to be able to maintain any kind of “good” pace. You’ll be lucky to finish the race without crying uncle. No matter how competitive you are, you will not be winning any ribbons when you haven’t done any training. So give it up and just run to finish

4) Along with the go-slow approach add, do not wear a watch. If you wear a watch you will look at the time. If you are looking at the time you will try to go faster. If you try to faster you will die. Don’t die. Don’t wear a watch.

5) For all of us goal-obsessed people (unite!), set goals, but do not set one single time goal. Seriously, do not. Or I will come find you and kick your ass for you. You haven’t trained for this so time goals are not an option. Set goals like: I will count the number of squirrels I see on the course. Or, I will take pictures of the most ridiculous shirts I see on the course. See? Great goals to try and achieve, everyone wants to count squirrels, exciting stuff.

6) Drink water, lots and lots and lots of water. The day before, drink water like it’s your job. Drink some more water the morning of the half. Although you might want to stop drinking a little before the race, don’t want to be one of those people caught peeing in the bushes. Try to drink a little bit of water at every water station. Alternating Gatorade with water might also help. Everyone knows winners drink Gatorade (losers drink Powerade).

7) Walk up the hills. Just do it. Your legs are already going to HATE you the next day, don’t make it worse by trying to run up the hills.

And finally…

8) Run with a friend who has also done no training so you can whine to each other about how you have done training. Honestly, this was probably the reason I finished the half because I had a good friend running with me who was in the same boat. Instead of thinking about how much everything hurt, we just bitched about how little training we did. Distractions are the best.

So, hopefully everyone has a few more brain cells than me and would never actually run a half-marathon without training, but just in case, these fool-proof, completely scientific bits of advice will get you through.


66 Responses to “How to Run a Half-Marathon with Absolutely No Training”

  1. PhroYo June 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    This really works! I was injured from February 4, 2012 to March 10, 2012 (can you tell I was obsessed with the injury and recovery?) and couldn’t finish training for a full marathon (3/13/2012) but showed up to the start line to run the half even though I hadn’t ran any significant distance in about 8 weeks or so. I ran in a 3 hr pace group with a friend who likes walk breaks (this is key) and finished in 2:50. It can be done… and you won’t die! 😀

    • feetoffancy June 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      I ran MCHHM in the same time and while it’s certainly not my PR, I was happy with the time, given the fact that I had done no training. Congrats on your finish! And hopefully you’re fully recovered from the injury! (Don’t worry about injury obsession, I can you tell you to the minute the last time I was told I had an injury and wouldn’t be able to run for a significant amount of time)

      • Kartik October 20, 2013 at 4:38 am #

        Thanks for writing this. This was a great inspiration. I ran my first ever HM today with NO training (my longest run in 2013 was 5k on the day before yesterday) and finished in 2:58 (trail marathon)

  2. YetAnotherCrazyRunner November 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    While its not great to admit I am in exactly the same boat, your blog does help – thank you! Atleast to know that there have been people like me before and there would be people after me as well attempting half without a proper training.

    • feetoffancy December 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      You’re certainly not alone! I have a long track record of signing up for races, not training and racing anyway. I should probably work on breaking that habit

  3. Madman February 14, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I am running a half marathon this sunday with absolutely no training. I’ve never run more than 2 miles at a stretch. And I’ve not run at all in the past 3 weeks! With 2 days left, I am scared, but it is a challenge and I won’t back down. Will update if I don’t die.

    • feetoffancy March 14, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Oh my goodness!! You are a brave soul and I hope you came through a-ok! Half-marathons are a tall order, but I’m sure you rocked it!

    • Amelisha June 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      How did you do? I’m running a half in 6 days. I run three times a week but my long is only 5 miles. Kinda freaking.

      • Natalie S May 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

        How did you end up doing?

  4. India March 7, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    This is an awesome article! I’ve been running for a few years now(primarily 5K’s), but I’m doing my first halfie on March 17th! I’m not the most prepared, but I do run and lift 5 days a week so I’d say I’m in pretty good shape… & Ive got my best “bitchin & whining” friend running beside me so hopefully all goes well!

    • feetoffancy March 14, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      Good luck with your first half! Even if it’s tough try to enjoy it, nothing like you’re first one! It sounds like you’re in tip-top shape so I’m sure you’ll cross that finish line looking like a rock-star, especially if you’ve got a great bitchin & whinin fried by your side.

      Any tips for a runner trying to learn to weight-lift consistently??

  5. I_Thought_They_Said_Rum March 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    All three half-marathons I’ve ran I’ve done absolutely no training for. My first one was after five ankle surgeries and, some significant weight gain. I was a runner in high school but after the ankle issues in college I did no siginificant training/running to get back to where I was. I intended to train for them all, but life get’s busy and the race day always arrives much faster than expected. I just feel like you have to go into it positive. While sure your legs will be sore and tired for a few days after (they will be sore and tired if you train too, just not as sore and tired), you’ll live. I’ve finished all of mine under 2:20, which certainly isn’t anything to brag about but hey finsihing is what matter. Just make a good playlist on your iPod, find some nice people to run with, and enjoy a nice jog for a few hours. 🙂

    • feetoffancy March 14, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Love your screen-name! Totally feel ya on the “life gets in the way” thing. I’ve never really, truly trained hard for a half because life and injuries have always thrown a wrench in my plans. And you should brag all you want about that 2:20!! How many people can say the finished a half-marathon especially a half with little to no training??

      Definitely all about the attitude and the tunes, I need my music to keep my pumped up!

  6. Naomi March 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past fall with very spotty training and I paid dearly for it….so much so that I went into full hibernation this winter and barely ran. Since then, I think I ran no more than 1-3 miles a week, if any at all!! Now, for some stupid reason I cannot grasp, I want to do a half marathon in two days. Thank you for this blog post and I will take all of your tips into consideration!!

    • feetoffancy March 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Ugh, I sadly know exactly how it feels to run MCM with limited training. Not fun. At all. You made it out alive though and with a shiny new medal to boot!

      I hope your half went well and some of the tips helped! It can be tough to run a half on no training but I’m sure you knocked it out of the park!!

  7. Andy B. March 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Thank you so much for your post!!! I found this post after Googling only 24 hours before a half marathon- one that I was going to skip because in the 3 months leading up to it I had jogged a total of TWO miles. And without any jogging whatsoever in the final 2 months. I was going to just bag it, but after reading this post figured what the hell. I slow-jogged at a 12 minute/mile pace and walked during the water stops. Finished at 2:40, which was about 20 minutes faster than I thought. I am also about 30 pounds overweight, so my legs took a POUNDING. The only reason I think I was able to finish was the fact that that I commute to work by bike two or three times a week- 25 miles round trip with hills. That’s made my lungs and SOME leg muscles in decent shape, but certainly not all the leg muscles required for jogging.

    I followed your advice by jogging much slower than felt natural, and I never once even thought about my time. I also walked up the one small hill on the course.

    A couple of things I learned:
    1)The first 8 or 9 miles weren’t so bad at that slow pace, but the final two miles were PURE HELL

    2)Training for a race prepares your body in may ways. One of them is toughening your skin in places where there’s friction. Because I hadn’t trained, I rubbed off ALL the skin on my inner thighs and suffered dearly.

    3)Don’t park in a tow-away zone before the race. After limping 3 or 4 blocks to the place where I parked in total agony and shivering from the FREEZING cold, my car was no longer there. Fun times

    4)Walking down stairs the next day is nearly impossible. Feels like electric knives stabbing into my quads with each step.

    But despite these negatives, I’m proud of myself for toughing it out and am glad I did it. One of the hardest things to overcome was the fact that my shitty time would now be a matter of public record. I usually finish races near the middle of my age group, and so my ego almost had me defer to next year. But once I got over that (and realized that no one gives a shit!) I was fine.

    • feetoffancy March 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      You are most welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂 I was certain there was no way I could be the only one crazy enough to run a half-marathon with no training.

      So glad to hear you were able to rock the half! It’s insanely frustrating to finish with a time that you don’t like but it doesn’t matter because you got your booty out there and ran!!

    • feetoffancy March 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      You are most welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂 I was certain there was no way I could be the only one crazy enough to run a half-marathon with no training.

      So glad to hear you were able to rock the half! It’s insanely frustrating to finish with a time that you don’t like but it doesn’t matter because you got your booty out there and ran!!

  8. ~jenniferlynn April 26, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    But I somewhat think that YOU RAN A MARATHON before, so this should be nothing, right? Do you really need to train all over? I have no idea. I struggle to “run” a 10k; and by run I mean total run/walk intervals..
    I love the advice though; especially ” If you try to faster you will die. Don’t die. Don’t wear a watch.”

    • feetoffancy April 29, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      I so wish that was how running worked, you could just train for one event and then be able to run any distance, whenever. But, sadly, yes you have to train all over. When I ran that half I had not run consistently for nearly 9 months (injury, ran a marathon, stopped running for a few weeks, then inconsistent running). And it definitely hurt. Having run a marathon and several half-marathons really helped my mental game though. I had done the distance before and knew I could again. Also beer at the finish line helped.

      I’m a big believer in “if you run you’re a runner” regardless of whether you run/walk or run slowly. Doesn’t matter, you’re still a runner. So be proud that you’ve done those 10Ks, that’s awesome!!

  9. Only Half Crazy May 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I’m about to run a half tomorrow…with next to no training. I did eek out a 10 miler a few weeks ago, just to see if I could do it. I made it, but with a few “water breaks” on the way. Luckily, I’m totally with you on number 8, and I have a friend who also has somehow “forgotten” to train. We’ve done several halfs together, and this one will probably be the one to go down as the most miserable fun we’ve ever had together! Thanks for the tips, and mostly, thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who’s ever run a half on nothing but good intentions!

    • feetoffancy May 19, 2013 at 5:55 am #

      Ha! I’m running a half today too which I sort of, accidentally did not train for. Again. Fortunately, I too am running with a good friend so we can whine the whole way. Good luck!! It sounds like, if nothing else, at least you’ll have fun 🙂

  10. 260Oakley June 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Wow, found this just in time. I’m signed up for a half this weekend and have had a running (ha!) debate going in my head for the past couple of weeks about whether I’m ready or not. I ran ten miles and finished in good shape a month ago, but haven’t been able to get in anything longer than an 8 miler since. Now I feel almost over-prepared. 😉 I really want to run this half because there will be beer at the end and the finishers medal doubles as a bottle opener. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • feetoffancy June 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Ha! Glad it was able to help get you to the starting line (and hopefully the finish line too 🙂 ) But, how can you say no beer and medals that double as a bottle opener??

  11. kelli June 20, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I haven’t run anything longer than a mile for the past 2 years, and that mile only happened a couple of times, for crossfit workouts. I have really strengthened my supporting muscles and become in better shape through crossfit, but I am toying with running a half marathon in 2 weeks because I have a free entry! Dumb, I know. Anyone do crossfit and use that as training enough for running? 🙂

  12. Ashley J June 22, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    I’m so glad I found this tonight. I am 16 years old and 3 months ago I decided to start training for first half marathon. I was so excited, and I followed my running plan PERFECTLY up until the 8 mile long run. I did the 8 miles perfectly, but after that I went on a 2 week vacation and haven’t run in 3 or 4 weeks at all. Running this half marathon would mean a lot to me, so, tonight (the night before race day), I decided to research wether or not it was okay to train with little to no training. I probably should of atleast done small 3 or 4 mile runs throughout these last few weeks, but hey, Ill atleast give it my all tomorrow with my first half of training done 🙂 Thank you so much for advice! The only thing that would help more is having someone to run with!

  13. Radim June 24, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    what’s up guys,
    i decided to run a half marathon like 3 months ago, but i wasn’t able to practice at all because of a serious sickness i got. So i was thinking that i just wouldn’t run, but then my friends talked me into it, and appeared to be on the start last saturday with absolutely no training. ( the longest i’ve ever ran was 10k last september). I ended up pretty good. I ran all of it, i never stopped or walked. My time was 2.19, and yeah i was really surprised with my time. Now it’s been 3 days since the race, and i am really sore and i can barely walk, but it was worth it. I don’t smoke but i drink a lot, and even with that, i ran it. Im am 19 years old and just before the race i had 2 glasses of beer, haha.

  14. Aico July 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Thanks for this. I’m due any day now but paid to run a half in September, so I will be going in with essentially zero training. The last time I ran was a 10 miler in May while 7 months along.

  15. candi August 5, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Thanks soo much for ur blog! I neva reply to these but I really enjoyed reading this! I did this half marathon with a girl friend with the longest ive eva run was 7km. I did however break a couple of ur rules hehehe… soo my legs are feeling it! But safe to say im ok over all managed to get it done in 2hrs 20mins 🙂 n im keen to do another cheers 🙂

  16. Judith Ogden September 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    This is an awesome post, thank you. I too had a super duper training plan all drawn up which has been subsequently ignored. I managed a five miler two weeks ago after a few 5k runs over the previous month or so, but over the last fortnight I have been mostly lying next to a swimming pool in France. My half marathon is in 2 weeks time and I managed a 7 miler today, so having read your post I am now feeling super prepared. I will take your advice and try not to die.

  17. manamica September 5, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Great list. I have the Chicago Half on Sunday and no long runs in a month and a half. I ran 2 halves June and July which should go on the list of terrible ideas. I trained for the June one, and got hurt in the July one. So I have been doing nothing but PT and yoga since then. Crazy thing is I think I can do this at a 4/2 run walk…

    • Suki October 7, 2013 at 2:09 am #

      Great Blog ! Am gonna run my half marathon thos Sunday with absolutely no training & the longest I ran was 16km yesterday so really keeping my fingers crossed for the race day! Loved the tips in Your blog. Am gonna follow the ‘count the squirrels’, ‘dont wear your watch’ & ‘laugh at all the funny looking guys’ tips for sure! 🙂 & reading the above comments, feel glad & highly motivated, am not the only one attempting a halfie without any training!

  18. Scott October 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m running the bupa half marathon this Sunday (20/10/13). I jogged 10 miles 6 months ago. I did 5 miler last week. Other than that I’ve not trained for it. I’m just gonna stick my headphones in and keep going. I don’t care if I crawl over the finish line. As long as I do it, I’m happy. It’s going to be raining aswell 😦

  19. Harry October 20, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    If you’re are determined enough, it can be done. I had pneumonia for 3 weeks prior to mine, and being on a beach and not having running shoes I ran it barefoot. I finished in 1:55 something. Downside was that had huge blood blisters on my feet and struggled to walk properly for 3 days but hey if your young why not?

    • Harry October 20, 2013 at 8:57 am #


  20. Rebecca February 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    I to will run my first half in a week and a half. Not much training…nothing but rain and freezing temps here lately so I just stopped jogging. Been thinking about not doing it at all, but my fiancé is so pumped and telling everyone I’m signed up….and a hand full of haters say “she’s gained a lot of weight she will never finish” kind of motivates me to show them I can. I’m 6’1 maybe my long legs will help me finish at a decent time because I know I will have to take walking breaks.

  21. Val February 10, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Hi, I saw your response about not training prior to a half marathon and I was wondering if running/walking 5Ks and in my neighborhood this past three months would help me to complete the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon that I signed up for that will be held 03/23/2014? I start off jogging for about a block or two and then my shins hurt so I walk for a while and then jog again during my 5Ks. I am more of a fast walker. I have the correct Newton shoes and compression socks finally. I am concerned about being able to finish the half without injury, but I walk every day and keep track of my steps and mileage. I would really appreciate some guidance… I cannot back out of this half marathon now.

  22. Lauren (@LauLedu) February 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Against my better judgement…I think I’m doing this in two weeks. I had a csection in July…made my comeback to running slowwly after a couple months and then it got cold, my baby got really cute 😉 work and life kind of got in the way. I’ve run off and on, but since I’ve run 3 half marathons I know exactly how unprepared I am. I just didn’t make it a priority. Last weekend I survived 8 miles outside, but yesterday’s 6.6 on the treadmill shook me up a little. Even with some walk breaks, my back is sore as heck! Any tips for what I can do the next 10 days to help a little?

  23. sharls February 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I was googling running a 1/2 marathon without any training and your blog popped up. I have ran a 1/2 before a few years ago and am sort of in shape i guess. I had a baby last april and have also suffered from a hand injury which has put me in a cast for 8 weeks. I will only have three weeks to train before the half and I am super scared but I am going for it. Thank you for your tips.

    • Peter March 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      I’m not tooting my horn in any way (I swear), but I can releate to all of you. In January 2013, I registered for the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon thinking it would be an excellent motivator to train and get back into shape. Days went by, weeks went by, and months went by. On memorial day weekend, I made a smart move and partyed hard in Las Vegas with my friends for about 3 days straight. I returned home the following Tuesday and the marathon was that upcoming Sunday. Training Miles Under my belt at this point: 0…

      From here, it was a matter of will power. I didn’t care about what time I got, I just wanted to finish. On second thought, I was tempted to run the half instead, but I have the “go big or go home” mentality (major flaw of mine). On June 2, 2012, I arrived to the start line at dawn. I had major butterflys in my stomach, however I felt so pumped and was so fueled on adreneline that I was more excited then nervous. I made sure I was hydrated, rested, and ate right before I left home. At the start I made sure that I was properly stretched, loose, and relaxed.

      I started in the last corral with all of the walkers and people dressed in banana costumes (btw dont underestimate these guys, I know of someone who ran sub-4 hour finish time dressed as Elvis). At the start it was full of positive excitement, complete strangers cheering you on, loud music, ballons the whole nine yards. I felt like the main attraction at a sporting event.

      The gun goes off, we are off. Again with thousands of complete strangers cheering you on, it was encouraging to want to finish. I jogged at an extrememly slow and study pace; I did not care if people passed me. I kept telling myself, slow and steady wins the race. The time really went by pretty quick. Before I knew it, I was at mile 9 running at the pace to finish this thing in 5:30:00-ish! My confidence was building immensly. Out of nowhere, however, when I approaced mile 12, the worst thing happend. I experienced the most feared condition of marathon running, although I was not out of breath, most of my muscles in my lower body cramped up to the point to where I can barely move without feeling excruciating pain and felt my body break down. This is known to many as “hitting a wall”.

      I started walking hopelesslly to the first medical tent I can find. Bless them dearly. They iced me up, and stretched me out. I was on my way again. I walked from about mile 12-15 where I needed to visit another medical tent due to the same muscle fatigue and cramping issue.

      On a side note: This entire time I was only sticking to gatorade at the water stations, a good friend told me to only stick to electrolyte replemishers and not combine with water.

      At this medical tent at mile 15, I was given some salt to add to my gatorade to help replace sodium that I have lost from sweating as a way to balance my electrolytes. I continued to walk and stretch until I saw I group of sexy ladies holding up a banner that said “tequilla shots and wet t-shirt contest at the finish line!”. From here I told myself, I made it this far, I need to finish. I started my jogging again and miraculously the craps were slowly dissapearing. Before I knew it I was at mile 20. From here, I caught up to someone I met at the startline. We were both surprised that we made it this far.

      From mile 20-25 we jogged 4 minutes, then walked 1 minute. It made the time go by quick.

      Mile 25 was one of the most memorable moments of my life. The entire mile was surrounded by spectators screaming in excitement! The finish was even more surreal, I raised my arms into the sky as I felt time standing still in shock that I pulled this off 6 hours and twentyone minutes later.

      At the finish, they offered free Muscle Milks, I drank 5 of them. After my cool-down jog I was limping and was physically incompetent from driving my car home. The supervising doctor at the medical tent gave me three things: 1-an Rx for 800 mg ibuprofins; 2-told me not to work out for a month since I pulled every muscle in my body from the waist down; and 3-A verbal scolding for running this and not training for it. (He didnt know if he was to be impressed, laughing, or angered).

      In the end, I would recommend proper training months in advance, but to answer your questions as to whether or not it’s possible to run a marathon without training, the answer is yes. Is it insane? Damn Right.

      I wish you the best of luck. You got this. 🙂


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  25. SanJoseLiving March 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    My first-ever HM is in 20 days (yikes!) and I have been training but not to the level I designed it (kudos to the colored-coded plans, me too!) due to sickness and just life distractions (yada yada yada). It’s helpful to see this post in that it calms me down a bit (that’s like your tip #8, run with another friend who did not train). I’m about half way trained and I plan to show up and run it. My back up is to walk if it comes to that. Thanks for sharing!

  26. ND April 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    I ran the MCM marathon (first marathon) with 6 months of training last Oct. This sunday I’m running a half marathon with hardly any training. I thought I shouldn’t run but your blog gives me hope. In the worst case scenario I’ll run/ walk as much as I can and stop but it is for a good cause so I want to give it a try.

  27. Kristie April 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    So relieved to find your page here! I thought surely I’m the only person crazy enough to do a HM with no training, whatsoever! Not that I planned to not train, it just sort of happened! Anyway, I now have hope that I won’t actually die during the race this Saturday – so a million thanks for making me slightly less scared!

  28. ThouShallNotDie April 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    2 years later, I find this gem as I am about to embark on a 13.1 journey this Sunday with -100% zero training. Yes, NEGATIVE 100%. I have done amazing on my previous half marathons, but I decided not to train AND add a couple of pounds on top of that because I am sticking it to the man! Okay, maybe I’m sticking it to myself because my knees gave in on themselves on my last casual 2.5 mile run, but whatevs.

    I hope the running gods forgive and give me mercy for being such an idiot. This blog post is the only reason why I am still determined to run it. THANKYOUSOOOOMUCH!

  29. Jeff April 26, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    Tomorrow, April 27 2014, I will be counting squirrels at the Crossroads Half Marathon in Cedar Lake, IN.

  30. jba April 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    this is an AWESOME blog. just what I need right now! thank you!

  31. KC May 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m about to do this tomorrow. Have run a Half in Feb. But haven’t trained since. Goal is just to finish and to really train for the next one in Oct. Thanks for this post!

  32. Ryan May 5, 2014 at 1:46 am #

    Good read. I’m glad I was not the only person to do this. My wife and I completed our first and only half marathon yesterday with ZERO training (Indianapolis Mini) . I don’t run. At all. My wife likes to jog, but she has done nothing since our daughter was born. The only “training” I did was jogging after my 4 year old daughter a few hundred feet while she was on her bike, after work, wearing my dockers and button down shirt, in my work shoes a few days before the race. And I was winded from that.

    In our defense, we didn’t have time to train, we signed up two weeks before the event. It usually sells out in a matter of weeks, but this year they still had spots and it was a bucket list item for my wife, so how hard can it be??? It’s only 13.1 miles right?

    So, prior to the race I bought a bunch of GU. I didn’t think I would need it, but the guy at the triathlon store swore by them, so who was I to argue. I also bought some body glide for good measure. I’m glad I had both. I seeded us at 2:30, so I wanted to try and match that time. It looked doable on paper. I wore a watch- a nice one.

    The race started ok, I took my shot of GU 15min prior to the start as instructed and waited with 25,000 of my friends, we (wife and I – not the rest of the competitors) ran for maybe a quarter mile (we might be on the evening news and you have to look the part) and my shins were on fire, which I took as a sign that we should use the walk/run approach. My wife agreed so we walked (pretty much the whole way). Things went well until about mile 8-9 and I noticed my wife was getting dehydrated, so I gave (forced) her to take some GU and got her re-hydrated. Miles 10-12 were actually pretty good (for me), but miles 12-13.1 took everything we had to get through it. It seemed like the finish line kept getting farther and father away. But we did it, our time was 3:43, which is horrible by running standards, but as I said I don’t run. We’re both sore, hoping that the 2nd day isn’t as bad as we’ve heard. We’re glad we finished and glad we weren’t last. But wishing we had trained just a little or even stretched out.

    So to all of you considering doing this, good luck. We did it. It can be done. You can finish if you want it bad enough. You will be sore. Take lots of GU. The leaders (you know, the people who train for this kind of thing every day) will probably be able to complete 2 or 3 half or full marathons to your one, so don’t worry about placing. There will probably be beer at the finish, even if it is Michelob ultra. Wear a watch- a nice one, you might need it to trade for a ride to the finish for the beer, even if it is Michelob ultra.

  33. San Diego Half-Crazy May 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I found myself googling for “How to run a half marathon without training” and I came across your blog. Best thing I’ve read. I have my SD Rock and roll half-Mary on Sunday and find myself running it on Sunday with zero training. I’ve been sidelined by a right leg/right hip instability (I think I overdid my yoga practice and totally changed my running stride). I ran half-Mary before but I trained for that one. I will not finish at my set goal time but I will finish the run no matter how long it will take it. That’s an achievement on its own when I know I didn’t train for it. I just hope I can still walk the next day. I’m drowning myself with coconut water to help me with my muscles.


  34. rachelcarly October 17, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    I am so glad people are as crazy as I am! It gives me hope. I have done little training and the race is on Sunday! Wish me luck. Procrastinating to the end. I just hope my end is not on Sunday. Good luck everyone!!

  35. Teesh November 1, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    I am one such genius who will be running a 22km half marathon tomorrow without any training….. thanks for your story! I have nothing to prove and nobody to impress so will definitely be taking it easy. Glad I have good shoes and will be wrapping all potential blister zones before hand. Praying!

  36. Ashley E. January 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    I just found this and it gives me some hope. I ran a 10-mile race at the beginning of October, but I have not run much since then (probably no more than four 45 minute runs spread out over those weeks). I will be running my first half marathon in exactly 2 weeks. While I plan to run at least 30 minutes each day for those 2 weeks, your article makes me feel slightly better about attempting this run. My true test will be running my second half marathon a month after this one.

  37. Suzette January 15, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

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  38. best run ever July 11, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    Wow, awesome post. I just got home an hour ago from my first half marathon, my longest run ever. I had plenty of drink and toilet breaks and I finished in 2.09 , which I was really happy with because my previous longest run was 19km and I finished that in around the same time (and that was the first time I ever wore my new running shoes!)
    The half marathon felt so good, and I ran with my best running buddy. Happy times! made even more special by all the memories I have on that course – it’s an area I used to visit a lot.

  39. Megan R September 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    I have so many things to say about this!

    1. In probably my fourth half marathon, I saw my favorite shirt I’ve ever seen a racer wear. A lady was up in front of me and the back of her shirt said “if you can read this, you didn’t train either!” All I could think was ‘shoot! She caught me! Someone knows!’

    2. I trained for my very first half marathon and haven’t trained for a single one since. I basically die during every race and convince myself I’ll actually train for the next one. Then, oh wait, what? The race is tomorrow? Oh well, maybe I’ll train next time….

    3. I did a full marathon without training. Never. Never. Never. Never do that!

    4. To pass the time (since, you know, I’ll have over three hours of time to kill while I “run”), I listen to audiobooks instead of music. Usually silly young adult fantasy books that you don’t have to pay a ton of attention to (I.e. Harry Potter, Divergent, etc). I’ve found I don’t notice the time as much.

    5. People assume I’m a runner from my Facebook account. My fiancé actually is an avid marathon runner so we do races a lot. I always have pictures from the race (duh! Proof!), but people tend to think I actually run. I’m very careful to tell people I do races, not that I run. People seem very confused by this, which I find entertaining.

    Thanks for the read! It was so relatable!

  40. I Think I Can November 4, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    Thank you for your post. I feel less like a total moron. My boyfriend and I have been fighting for weeks because I refuse to just give up and he and I both know this isn’t the best idea. I took on a new position in my field and it has stripped all free time away from me. I quit running about 2 months ago due to the overload. I paid for this a year ago after finishing my first half and intended to beat my time but now I’m doing it to say that I did (or at least that I tried). It makes me nervous as all hell, I’ll probably be alone, but I don’t care because I’m stubborn…it’s just nice to know that it is possible 🙂

  41. stephanie December 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    Im so nervous, my run in in 1 week. I stopped training hard in august due to an injury. I have recovered from the injury but can only run like 3-4 miles one shot. I have ran about 7 half marathons in the past. so im hoping that saves me. thanks for your advise and anymore please let me know!!!

  42. Maria May 5, 2016 at 6:21 am #

    This is HILARIOUS and so entirely true. Thank you so much for sharing your words of wisdom… My sister and I are running a half in two days with no training and expect to laugh at each other the whole time

  43. benjaminndavid June 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    I know this is old but I just wanted to agree that it is unwise but possible. I did the color-coded training plan too and trained well between February and April. Injured myself in April (overuse of foot) and basically said ‘F it.’ The last run I completed in April was 6 miles, treadmill, and the halfy is on a hiking trail. I went on a 2 month bender, smoking a pack and a half a day and generally being a pile of trash. Two days before the marathon on June 5 I stopped smoking, carbed up, and managed to complete in 2:35:??. It was my punishment for being a tool, and it was awesome. I agree, walk hills, but other than that it was a steady controlled pace, not too fast, and good tunes to punch your face if you’re feeling fat and 31.

  44. kwatts2Kevin July 31, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    This is the only post on no training worth a damn for the .5 marathon (or what it really is, 13.1098 miles – marathon looks to be a beast of a run). I’ve never ran one before or trained and really didn’t train for this one. Completed it with meh times (11-12 minute miles/40 yrs old). I’m not sure if I could of done it if I wasn’t already somewhat fit (SF hills) and finding mountain biking stressed my body in similar ways.

    DRINK TONS OF WATER THE DAY BEFORE. I was mostly afraid of cramps, and I think that was the biggest thing I did that kept them away. Seems the biggest thing is dehydration, and physical trainer friends say it takes around 24 hours for water to do its bit. There were tons of people getting cramps, and in pain, saw a few hit medical from dehydration. I did also do compression socks, but could be placebo with those.

  45. Judy Clifford August 9, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for writing this! I’m headed into a half on Saturday, and haven’t run more than 7 miles at a time, and that was over a month ago. I’m counting on the memory of training from other half marathons to get me through. It’s like riding a bicycle – no? I was glad to find your light-hearted and valuable suggestions. I will not take goals seriously this weekend, and hope to be walking upright for my 50th high school reunion that night.

  46. Denise Vuono October 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    I am cracking up after reading this~ Fairly new to running/training for a 5K (have run on and off over past 10 years) I injured myself – how I am not quite sure. Probably over use injury as I had been running since mid July~ ran two 3 mile runs in two days and 10 days later ran 4 mile run~ feeling elated with myself. Well two hours later I couldn’t move due to severe muscle spasms in my buttocks/low back. So over next month visited dr./chiropractor and ran only once a week. Had my race this past weekend and was able to complete it but it was tougher than it was during my training. Amazing and astonishing how fast one losses their cardio performance. Of course the gradual hill incline the whole first half was a bit challanging and much to my dismay I had to walk a lot of the hill. Proud of my accomplishment and still struggling with back issues. Funny aside, when I completed my 4 mile run I was thinking; maybe I will train for 1/2 marathon next year. Was happy for the experience- learned a lot about myself~ When your daughter asks you to run a 5K with her, how can you say no- I feel blessed~

  47. paigem November 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    I have my first half next weekend. Because of life training has sort of slipped to the back of my head and now it is a week before and the longest run I’ve done recently has been 8.5 miles. I was going to try to get in a few short runs this week but don’t have any hope of actually finishing the half in under 3 hours (time limit) running/ walking. Do you have any tips? Should I try to get to ten and then walk/stop? The people I signed up with are much faster and actually kept to their plans so I can’t run with them.


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