Can the Average Person Walk a Marathon?

Most marathon races have a time limit of 6 or 7 hours, meaning that walkers must maintain a pace of at least 3.1 miles per hour to finish within the time limit.

This might seem relatively slow, but it can be challenging to maintain for such a long distance.

Physical Requirements for Walking a Marathon

Walking a marathon is a challenging task requiring a specific fitness and endurance level.

This section will discuss the physical requirements for marathon walking, including muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and joint health.

Muscle Endurance

Walking a marathon requires a lot of lower-body strength and endurance. To walk a marathon, I need to sustain a steady pace for several hours, so my leg muscles need to keep going without getting tired or fatigued.

I can incorporate strength training exercises in my workout routine to build muscle endurance, such as lunges, squats, and calf raises.

Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular endurance is another crucial factor in walking a marathon.

Walking a marathon requires a sustained effort over several hours, so my heart and lungs must keep up with the demand for oxygen and energy.

I can incorporate cardio exercises in my workout routine to improve cardiovascular endurance, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling.

Joint Health

Walking a marathon can stress my joints, especially my knees, and hips.

To reduce the risk of injury and ensure joint health, I need to have proper form and posture while walking, wear comfortable shoes with good support, and do exercises that strengthen the muscles around my joints, such as leg raises and side leg lifts.

Walking a marathon requires a certain level of fitness and endurance, but with proper training and preparation, it is achievable for the average person.

I can increase my chances of completing a marathon walk by building muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and joint health.

Training for a Marathon Walk

Training Schedule

Training for a marathon walk requires a consistent and gradual increase in mileage over several months.

A 19-week training schedule is recommended to prepare for a marathon walk. The plan should include three to four weekly walks, with a long weekend walk.

Start with two walks of 45-60 minutes during the week and gradually increase the time and distance each week.

The long walk on the weekend should start with an hour and add 15-20 minutes each week until it reaches the total marathon distance.

WeekWeekday WalksWeekend Walks
1-4Two 45-60 minute walks1-hour walk
5-8Two 60-75 minute walks1.5 hour walk
9-12Two 75-90 minute walks2-hour walk
13-16Two 90-105 minute walks2.5 hour walk
17-19Two 60-90 minute walks3-4 hour walk

Walking Technique

Proper walking is essential to avoid injury and maintain a steady pace throughout the marathon.

Keep your head up, shoulders relaxed, and arms swinging naturally at your sides. Take short, quick steps and land on the heel of your foot, rolling through to the ball of your foot and pushing off with your toes.

Maintaining good posture and engaging your core muscles to support your back and hips is also essential.

Keep your pelvis level and your hips aligned with your feet. Avoid over-striding, which can cause strain on your knees and ankles.


Investing in a good pair of walking shoes is essential for marathon training. Look for shoes with good arch support, cushioning, and a comfortable fit.

In addition, wear moisture-wicking socks to prevent blisters and dry your feet.

Other helpful equipment includes a hydration pack or belt, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Dress in layers to adjust to changing weather conditions, and wear breathable, moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable.

Nutrition and Hydration

As I prepare to walk a marathon, I know proper nutrition and hydration are crucial to my success. According to Runner’s World, I should consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the race. This can come from sports drinks, gels, or energy bars.

Finding what works best during training is essential so I don’t experience digestive issues on race day.

Hydration is equally important. I will be offered water and electrolyte-replacement sports drinks such as Gatorade during the marathon.

Some events use electrolyte drinks that don’t have sugars, so I need to know that in advance to bring my energy snacks. According to Red Bull, I should drink 150ml of liquid every 15 minutes. However, my sweat levels mean hydration is very individual, so I need to find what works best for me during training.

It’s also important to note that consuming too much water can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially life-threatening condition where the body’s sodium levels become dangerously low.

To avoid this, I should aim to drink enough to replace what I’ve lost through sweat, but not so much that I’m constantly running to the bathroom or feeling bloated.

On race day, I plan to bring my energy snacks, such as energy bars, gels, or bananas.

I will also make sure to eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water or electrolyte-replacement sports drinks an hour before the race.

This will give my body enough time to digest and get those carbs in my system, but not so much that I need more fuel again by the start.

Mental Preparation

Preparing for a marathon is about more than physical training. Mental preparation is just as necessary, if not more so. Here are some mental preparation strategies that can help you walk a marathon:

Goal Setting

Setting goals is an integral part of mental preparation. It helps you focus on your goals and gives you a sense of purpose.

When setting goals, making them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound is essential. For example, instead of saying, “I want to finish the marathon,” set a goal like “I want to walk the marathon in under 7 hours.”

Write your goals down and keep them somewhere visible, like on your fridge or in your training journal. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

Motivation Strategies

Staying motivated during a marathon can be challenging, especially when you feel tired and sore. Here are some motivation strategies that can help:

  • Visualize yourself crossing the finish line
  • Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, such as “I am strong” or “I can do this.”
  • Listen to music or an audiobook to distract yourself
  • Break the marathon into smaller segments and focus on one segment at a time

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is staying focused and motivated even when things get tough. It’s an essential skill to have when walking a marathon. Here are some ways to develop mental toughness:

  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Push yourself during training to build mental resilience
  • Learn to manage your emotions and stay calm under pressure
  • Develop a growth mindset by embracing challenges and learning from setbacks

Remember, mental preparation is as essential as physical training when walking a marathon.

You can increase your chances of crossing the finish line by setting goals, using motivation strategies, and developing mental toughness.

Race Day Tips

As I prepare to walk a marathon, I know race day can be overwhelming. To ensure I am as prepared as possible, I have developed some race-day tips that I plan to follow to ensure my success.

Pacing Strategies

One of the most important things to remember during a marathon is to pace yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race and start too fast, but this can lead to exhaustion and burnout later on.

I plan to use a run-walk strategy to keep a steady pace throughout the race. This will allow me to conserve energy and finish strong.

I also plan to use a pacing chart or app to track my pace and ensure I am on my way to finish within my goal time. This will help me avoid the temptation to speed up or slow down too much during the race.

Hydration and Nutrition During the Race

Staying hydrated and adequately fueled during the race is essential to success. Therefore, I plan to bring a hydration pack or belt to ensure access to water and electrolyte drinks throughout the race.

I also plan to bring energy gels or chews to provide me with the necessary fuel to keep going.

It is important to remember that everyone’s hydration and nutrition needs differ, so testing other products and strategies during training is essential to see what works best for me.

Mental Strategies

Walking a marathon can be mentally challenging, especially during the later miles of the race.

To help me stay focused and motivated, I plan to use positive self-talk and visualization techniques. I will remind myself of my hard work during training and how far I have come. I will also visualize myself crossing the finish line and achieving my goal.

I also plan to break the race into smaller, more manageable sections. For example, instead of thinking about the 26.2 miles, I will focus on getting to the next aid station or mile marker. This will help me stay present and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Can the Average Person Walk a Marathon

Final Thoughts

Walking a marathon can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It requires dedication, training, and mental toughness to complete the 26.2-mile distance on foot.

Walking a marathon can also offer a unique perspective on the course and surroundings and the opportunity to meet and connect with other walkers and runners. However, it’s essential to approach walking a marathon with realistic expectations and a focus on safety and proper preparation.

This may include gradually increasing training mileage, wearing comfortable and supportive shoes, staying hydrated and fueled during the race, and listening to your body’s signals to avoid injury.

With the right mindset and preparation, walking a marathon can be a fulfilling accomplishment and a testament to the power of determination and perseverance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the average person walk a marathon?

The average person can walk a marathon with proper training and preparation.

How long does it take to walk a marathon?

The average time to complete a marathon on foot is around 6-7 hours, but it can vary depending on individual fitness level and pace.

Do you need to be in shape to walk a marathon?

Yes, being in good physical condition and having a training plan to prepare for walking a marathon is essential.

How much training is necessary to walk a marathon?

Typically, a training plan of 12-20 weeks is recommended to prepare for walking a marathon.

Is it necessary to run before walking a marathon?

No, it’s not required to run before walking a marathon. Still, including some running or jogging in your training plan can be beneficial to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

What should you wear when walking a marathon?

It’s essential to wear comfortable and supportive shoes and clothing that allow for movement and breathability.

Do you need to bring food and water when walking a marathon?

Yes, staying hydrated and fueled during a marathon is essential, so it’s recommended to bring water and snacks or energy gels.

Can you walk a marathon without any prior training?

Attempting to walk a marathon without prior training is not recommended, as it can increase the risk of injury and exhaustion.

Is it possible to walk a marathon if you have a health condition?

It depends on the individual health condition and severity. It’s recommended to consult with a doctor before attempting a marathon if you have a health condition.

How do you prevent blisters when walking a marathon?

Wearing comfortable and properly fitting shoes, using moisture-wicking socks, and applying anti-chafing products can help prevent blisters.

What are some common injuries when walking a marathon?

Common injuries when walking a marathon can include blisters, shin splints, knee pain, and back pain.

How do you prevent injuries when walking a marathon?

Gradually increasing training mileage, stretching before and after walking, and listening to your body’s signals can help prevent injuries.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.