How Long Does It Take To Walk A Marathon?

Often, when people about marathons, they think of running them. Although it’s mostly runners lining up to tackle the 26.2-mile distance, it’s very possible to finish a marathon walking the entire thing! In fact, more people are deciding to walk marathons. Some race organizers are making arrangements to make their marathons more friendly to race walkers. But, how long does it take to walk a marathon?

If you’ve always wanted to complete a marathon but either don’t enjoy running or perhaps can’t due to existing injuries or joint pain, walking is the next best thing!

The average person can expect to walk a marathon somewhere between 6 and 9 hours.

The time it takes you to complete the marathon entirely depends on your walking pace!

For example, a 6-hour marathon requires a 13:43 pace per mile, a 7-hour marathon, a 16:01 pace, and an 8-hour marathon means walking at an 18:19 pace.

Just because you’re walking doesn’t mean it will be easy. It’s still 26.2 miles! 

With this in mind, this article will explain more about:

  • How to walk the marathon distance
  • Which marathons are great for walking
  • How difficult it is to finish a marathon walking
  • How to train for your first walking marathon
  • Walking a marathon training plan
How long does it take to walk a marathon against a woman walking through the woods.

Can you walk a marathon? 

Yes! Most marathons allow walkers to participate, including popular events such as the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon.

What makes it a walker-friendly marathon? The time limit. Any marathon with a time limit of 6 hours, isn’t considered friendly to walkers.

Many marathons have a cut-off time of 7 hours or less.

If you finish after the time limit, you will still get a time if the course is open and you finish before the race is officially closed.

Related: Best Walker-Friendly Half Marathons

Can you walk a marathon without training?

If you’re very active, for example, if you do a lot of longer walks, rucks or hikes, then you may not need months of training before attempting to walk a marathon. But, this really does depend on your current fitness level and the type of exercise you do.

If you swim daily, it’s a good idea to do some distance walking before attempting the marathon for the first time.

Even if you think you can walk a marathon without training, we’d recommend a little time on your feet before the event. This is especially important for older runners.

Doing so will get your body used to walking longer distances, reducing blisters, foot pain, and fatigue.

How difficult is it to walk a marathon?

We’ve touched on this briefly above. However, how difficult it is for you to walk a marathon depends on your existing fitness level.

If you’re an avid walker, runner, or fitness fanatic, then you’ll find it much easier to walk the 26.2-mile distance.

Regardless, 26.2 miles is still, well, 26.2 miles. Any way you slice it, it’s a long way to run or walk.

We recommend preparing and training for the event to prevent disappointment — we have more details on how to train a little later in this post.

If you’re interested in proper training for a walking marathon and want to do it safely, consider a training app like Runna. Using code HALFMARATHON, you’ll get two weeks of free coaching from an Olympic running coach.

How long does it take to walk a marathon?

On average, if walking a marathon, you can expect a marathon time between 6 to 9 hours.

If you want to achieve a 5-hour finishing time, then you can still walk, but you’ll need to add bouts of brisk walking or running.

A 5-hour marathon pace will require a 11:30 per mile pace, a 6-hour marathon, a 13:43 per mile pace, and a 7-hour marathon would be a pace of 16:01 per mile.

Two walkers training while rucking for a marathon in the woods.

How do I train to walk 26.2 miles?

Your walking marathon training will follow similar training advice and principles to running.

A good training schedule will include a mix of power walking, long distance walking, short slow walks, hill training, and plenty of rest days between more difficult walks and strength training sessions.

As a general rule of thumb, aim to run or walk a minimum of 4 days a week, and a maximum of 6 days a week, leaving 1 full day of rest.

When walking, avoid increasing your weekly distance too suddenly. Whether running or walking, a good training program should not increase weekly mileage more than 10% the week’s prior mileage. For example, if you’re walking 20 miles one week, you shouldn’t be exceeding 22 miles the next.

Below we outline several key training guidelines you should follow (with explanations of why you should follow each):

  • Build up your time spent walking gradually 
  • Give yourself plenty of time to train
  • Train a minimum of 4 days a week (and no more than 6 days)
  • Include a mix of training sessions 
  • Learn how to warm up and cool down correctly

Slowly build up your time spent walking 

If you’ve ever followed a running training plan, then you’ll know week 1 looks very different from week 12.

Most notably, there’s an increase in weekly distance covered and more intensity to the training.

It’s built up slowly throughout the 12 weeks, designed to allow your body to adapt and recover.

The same principles apply to walking.

Many walkers and beginner runners will benefit from slowly increasing their weekly time spent walking vs. distance covered. Why? This is because distance does not take into account elevation, terrain, or other external factors.

Upgrading from the half? Consider our 10-week half marathon to marathon training plan.

Give yourself plenty of time to train

Our training plans range from 8 weeks to 20 weeks.

Typically, the more weeks you can dedicate to training, the better. It also allows you to gradually increase the intensity as the weeks go on with as little strain on the body as possible.

Despite this, 8 weeks should be the minimum training period before you end up on the starting line, even if you’re walking.

An 8 week training period provides enough time for the body (the muscles, bones, and tendons) to get used to the impact and stress of walking long distances.

If you’re creating your own training program, provide ample time to train for your event for the best results.

Preparation is key to success! 

Train a minimum of 4 days a week (and no more than 6 days)

A lot of runners and walkers fall into the trap that more is better.

For most, a minimum of 4 days a week of training and a maximum of 6 days is recommended.

You don’t need to do training walks every day, either. You can walk 4 days a week, and strength train once, for example. Find what works best for you and stick with it for the best results!

Whatever you choose though, we always suggest keeping at least 1 full rest day dedicated to recovery.

A recovery day is also designed to prevent overtraining (and keep you mentally fresh and excited for your training sessions — you don’t want to burnout before race day, or ever, for that matter). 

Include a mix of training sessions 

Similar to a regular full marathon running training plan, you want to include a mix of training sessions and types of running or walking. We recommend you include the following:

  • Long walks
  • Hill walks/repeats  
  • Fast walks
  • Run/walk method
  • Strength training 

Aim to complete 1 long walk a week, an easy/recovery walk, and a fast walk.

So while your long walk could be anywhere from 60-90 minutes, your fast walks can be closer to 20-40 minutes.

Including different types of training sessions like hills will increase strength. Adaptations your body makes to handle elevation, reap physiological benefits that translate to faster walking. 

Strength workouts are highly recommended for every type of training plan. Add one day of strength training session per week to your routine.

Add strength training to your weekly routine

Even one strength session a week can reduce your injury risk and improve your performance.

If you don’t know where to begin, try the following exercises:

  • Walking lunges: 3 sets of 10
  • Squats: 3 sets of 10
  • Glute bridges: 3 sets of 10 per leg
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets of 5
  • Monster walks: 30 steps out and back
  • Planks: 60 seconds

If you’re new to the gym, start by performing these exercises with only your body weight. Focus on targeting the muscle groups the exercises are designed to target as you learn the correct technique. 

If you’re interested in improving your cardiovascular strength and don’t want to overtrain your walking muscles, consider cross-training with swimming or jump rope.

Learn how to warm up and cool down correctly 

Alongside strength training, many runners and walkers are guilty of skipping warm ups and cool downs before their runs or walks. 

A short and basic warm up will improve your walking performance and reduce your risk of injury. This is because blood is pumped through your body and to your muscles, loosening up your joints and preparing your body for walking.

For a warm up, perform basic dynamic stretches, such as:

  • Leg swings
  • Walking lunges
  • Torso twist 

For a full warm up, we’ve been using this routine for over 6 years:

For a cool down, perform basic static stretches, such as:

  • Calf stretch against a wall
  • Standing quadricep stretch
  • Seated hamstring stretch 

How long does it take to walk a marathon? Woman running through a city with headphones.

How to prepare

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

If you want to walk a marathon, preparation is everything — not only on race day morning, but during training. Below, we’ve provided some tips to help you get the most out of your training and your race day.

Get the right running shoes

A common mistake many people make is that because they’re not running, they think they don’t need a specialized pair of shoes.

However, your Chuck Taylor’s are not designed for walking!

Our top recommendation is to go to a specialized running or walking store to get your feet measured and your gait analyzed.

Choosing the right type of shoe (e.g., neutral, stability) and the right size will increase comfort and further reduce your risk of injury.

A pair of shoes designed for long distance running or walking will do the trick. If you have a neutral running gait, a popular choice is the HOKA Clifton. With plenty of cushioning, the HOKA Clifton is designed to go long, even better if you like run/walk.

And for those looking for a walking shoe, the Hoka Skyline-Float X is a good option. The Vibram outsole performs exceptionally well on uneven terrain, great if you train on the trails or hills often.

Related: Best Half Marathon Shoes

Invest in the right gear

You might think that walking calls for less gear than running — but that’s not true! In fact, you might need to invest in more equipment. But trust us, it’s totally worth it!

For starters, we’d recommend investing in a few pairs of quality walking or running socks. Look for plenty of padding and an anti-chafe and anti-blister design. The right pair of socks will make walking all the more comfortable. And let’s not get started on blisters!

Other pieces of kit you might consider investing in include: 

  • An entry-level GPS watch — View your live pace and stay on track with your goals (and log your training walks). We like the COROS.
  • A running belt — Store your water bottles, keys, gels, and snacks. 
  • Comfortable, chafe-free clothing — Wear proper walking and running gear (avoid cotton) for comfortable and pain-free walking).
  • A hydration pack — Carry necessary fluids without having to rely on aid stations. Especially useful for training, too.

Train in all weather conditions

Come race day, you have no control over the conditions. It might be raining, snowing, or blowing a gale so strong it’ll blow you over the finish line (let’s just hope it’s a tailwind and not a headwind).

So it’s recommended that you train in all weather conditions, granted it’s safe to do so. That means braving the elements and tackling your long walks and scheduled training sessions in the rain, wind, and whatever other elements are thrown at you. 

Training in all conditions will also make you mentally stronger! Just think… when you’re out tackling a long walk in the rain, very few people will be doing the same. You gain that mental edge — it’s something to put in your mental cookie jar.

Practice race day nutrition 

Race day nutrition fails to get the attention it deserves. For runners, the go-to strategy usually involves squeezing a handful of gels and a few gulps of water. But because you’re walking, you have more time to dial in your nutrition. It also means you can eat more whole foods.

Try not to overthink it — but be sure to bring enough food to make it to the end of the race.

Good snacks include:

  • Trail mix
  • Energy gels
  • Fruit (apple and orange slices)
  • Energy bars and chews

It’s a good idea to practice your race day and what to eat the week before nutrition during your training. Besides, you’ll need fuel on those longer training walks to maintain your performance.

Find what works best for you, and don’t switch it up at the last minute during your race. This is a recipe for stomach issues, cramps, and that dreaded side stitch. Practice, practice, practice!

Walking a marathon training plan 

When training for a marathon, following a training plan is essential — structure is key! 

If you’re unsure where to begin, we recommend our half marathon walking training plan or our 18-week marathon training program for first-timers. You can run, walk, or do a mix of both to finish your first marathon, whether aiming for a 7, 8, or 9-hour finishing time. 

Popular Walker-Friendly Marathons

  1. Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida – 7 hour time limit.
  2. Honolulu Marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii – No time limit.
  3. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. – 7 hour time limit.
  4. TCS New York City Marathon in New York City, New York – 8.5 hour time limit.
  5. Philadelphia Marathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 7 hour time limit.
  6. Austin Marathon in Austin, Texas – 7 hour time limit.
  7. Missoula Marathon in Missoula, Montana – 7.5 hour time limit.
  8. London Marathon in London, United Kingdom – 8 hour time limit.
  9. Sydney Marathon in Sydney, Australia – 7 hour time limit.
  10. Cleveland Marathon in Cleveland, Ohio – 7 hour time limit.
  11. Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia – 7.5 hour time limit.
  12. Seaside Marathon in Ventura, California – 7 hour time limit.
  13. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in San Diego, California – 7 hour time limit.
  14. Richmond Marathon in Richmond, Virginia – 7 hour time limit.

FAQs About How Long Does It Take To Walk A Marathon

How long does it take to walk a half marathon?

It takes most runners 3-4 hours to complete a half marathon walking.

Can you walk a marathon in 7 hours?

Yes, it is possible to walk a marathon in 7 hours. You will need to walk an average pace of 16:01 per mile. 

Is walking during a marathon cheating?

No. Walking during a marathon is not cheating. In fact, many runners choose to run/walk to complete the 26.2-mile distance.

Is walking a marathon harder than running one? 

No, typically, running a marathon is more difficult than walking. However, walking does mean more time spent on your feet — adding a different element of fatigue. 

Can I run a marathon without training?

Simply, we wouldn’t recommend it. But, if you are going to run a marathon without training – you’ll end up spending a lot of time walking it.

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5 comments… add one
  • James H September 23, 2023, 9:51 am

    You didn’t mention the Richmond, VA marathon, America’s friendliest marathon, as walker friendly. It has a 7 hour time limit and Sportsbackers, the race organizers, have a fantastic training team for walkers and runners of all abilities!

  • Michael Oconner September 15, 2023, 12:02 am

    This was great article for beginners.

  • Sharon Showalter September 14, 2023, 5:03 pm

    I’m 65 years old and have power-walked 45 marathons! I began this hobby about 4 years ago as I always wanted to complete a marathon but never did in my younger running days. I started power walking to avoid injuries and fell in love with it! I keep hoping to meet someone who can power walk marathons with me but sadly have not. It’s a long time “out there”, so having a walking buddy would be wonderful! My pace is around 5 1/2 hours, but aging (despite good overall fitness) is definitely slowing me down. I hope to be walking marathons well into my 80’s and beyond!

  • Claire September 9, 2023, 10:19 am

    Racewaled NY 5:05. My predicted time to my husband was 5 hours.

  • James Burian September 8, 2023, 12:21 pm

    I have completely power walked two marathons. One virtual at 5:25 (12:25 pace) and one at Little Rock at 5:35. The hills are easier than running them and so is the recovery time. It is also easier to maintain pace all the way through. It’s kinda fun during the last half of a marathon when passing a bunch of runners who ran too fast at the beginning and are run/walking to finish. Most runners are poor power walkers. I recommend power walk training for runners. Especially for those who run/walk.

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