It is useful for some in regards to training to have the extrinsic motivation of being signed up to an event; others can train effectively with holding the event in their mind and entering at a later date. From my perspective as a coach, I would always advise people to enter an event as late as they can manage. This does not work for every individual. The reason that I suggest that you enter an event as late as you are able is one of self preservation. Despite our best efforts with maintaining our well being through considered training, sound diet and proper rest, sometimes things go awry. It can happen that we become injured, ill, or that other circumstances prevent us from making the event. I would much rather see an athlete make the decision to not race if he or she is not expressing health in an adaptive manner than turn up to the line injured or ill because “I’ve paid for the race anyway”.
The decision to not start a race can be a distressing one, especially if you have already paid to enter. At some events there is a no-refund-no-transfer policy. Again, I understand that events are business, and also that forcing people to commit avoids a considerable amount of to-and-fro from the organiser’s perspective in the build up to an event. I do become concerned that a rigid policy regarding withdrawals may add to the chance that participants start the event injured and negatively impact their wellbeing and ability to run freely and adaptively long term.
If you are considering entering an event and would like to discuss anything that I have spoken about in this article, or on any other matter, I would be only too happy to speak with you.