Can You Stop While Running a Marathon?

Yes of course, even the fast guys stop sometimes.

The female winner of the 2023 London Marathon Sifan Hassan, stopped for a stretch along the way. There’s no shame in it.

Stopping During a Marathon

As a runner, it is essential to understand the importance of pacing and conserving energy during a marathon.

However, even with the best training and preparation, some runners may need to stop during the race. This section will discuss why runners stop during a marathon and whether it is okay.

Why Do Runners Stop?

There are several reasons why runners may need to stop during a marathon. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Hydration and Nutrition: Runners may need to stop at aid stations to drink water or sports drinks or to consume energy gels or other snacks to maintain their energy levels.
  • Injury or Pain: Runners may need to stop if they experience an injury or significant pain during the race.
  • Fatigue: Runners may need to stop and take a short break to rest and recover if tired.
  • Mental Break: Sometimes, runners may need to stop and take a mental break to regroup and refocus their energy and motivation.

Is It Okay to Stop?

While stopping during a marathon is not ideal, it is okay. Stopping to take a break or consume hydration or nutrition can help runners maintain their energy levels and finish the race strong.

However, it is essential to note that stopping for too long can negatively impact a runner’s overall time and performance.

Additionally, stopping too frequently can make it more challenging to get back into a rhythm and maintain a consistent pace.

Therefore, if you need to stop during a marathon, it is recommended that you do so strategically and briefly.

Try to limit your stops to aid stations, and take no more than a minute or two to drink and consume nutrition. Additionally, if you need to stop due to an injury or significant pain, it is essential to seek medical attention and not push yourself beyond your limits.

Strategies for Stopping

Walk Breaks

Listening to your body and taking breaks when necessary is essential when running a marathon. For example, walking for short periods during the race can help conserve energy and prevent injury.

According to Runners Get Up, you can stop and rest during a marathon as long as you finish each mile at 13:40. You can finish a marathon just before the 6-hour time cap.

One popular strategy for taking walk breaks is the Galloway Method. This method involves taking regular walk breaks throughout the race to reduce fatigue and improve overall performance.

The frequency and duration of the walk breaks can vary depending on your fitness level and race goals.

Hydration and Fueling

Stopping to hydrate and fuel up during a marathon is essential to maintaining energy levels and preventing dehydration. You should drink water or sports drinks at every aid station and consume energy gels or snacks every 45 minutes to an hour.

To make the most of your hydration and fueling stops, it’s essential to have a plan in place before the race.

Consider carrying a hydration pack or belt, and practice consuming gels or snacks during your training runs to find what works best for you.

Mental Breaks

A mental break during a marathon can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the race. This can involve taking a few deep breaths, visualizing your end goal, or even stopping to take in the scenery. One technique for taking a mental break is to focus on your breathing.

Take a few deep breaths in and out, and focus on the rhythm of your breath. This can help calm your mind and reduce stress during the race. In conclusion, taking breaks during a marathon can be an intelligent strategy for conserving energy and preventing injury.

By incorporating walk breaks, hydration, fueling stops, and mental breaks into your race plan, you can improve your overall performance and maximize your marathon experience.

Consequences of Stopping

Physical Consequences

Stopping during a marathon can have several physical consequences. For example, when you stop running, your heart rate drops, and your blood pressure decreases.

This sudden drop can cause dizziness and nausea, especially if you stop abruptly. Additionally, stopping can cause your muscles to stiffen up, making it harder to start running again. Finally, if you stop without cooling down, this can be bad for your body and cause a build-up of lactic acid and sore muscles if you do not stretch.

Stopping during a run can also affect your heart rate recovery time. The faster your heart rate recovers, the quicker you can decrease your heart rate when you stop running. This recovery time is dependent on your level of fitness.

If you are out of shape, your heart rate will take longer to recover, and you may feel more fatigued after stopping.

Mental Consequences

Stopping during a marathon can also have mental consequences.

If you stop in the middle of a marathon to take a break, you might experience mental fatigue.

You no longer have the mental strength to get back up and start moving. Remember Newton’s first law of motion?

A body that stays in motion wants to stay in motion; a body that stays at rest wants to stay at rest. If you stop completely, it can be challenging to get yourself moving again, and you may feel discouraged or defeated.

According to Psycho Wyco, stopping while running a marathon can also hurt your mindset and ability to finish the race.

It can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and feelings, such as self-doubt or disappointment when you stop running. These thoughts can make it harder to start running again and may even lead you to drop out of the race.

Final Thoughts

As someone who has completed multiple marathons, stopping during a race is a personal decision that should be made based on individual circumstances.

While stopping and resting during a marathon is possible, it is essential to remember the potential negative impact on the mindset and physical performance.

If you do decide to stop during a marathon, it is recommended that you continue walking to rest instead of stopping completely. This will help prevent lactic acid build-up and sore muscles if you do not stretch.

However, training properly for a marathon is essential to minimize the need to stop during the race. This includes building endurance, practicing proper pacing, and incorporating strength training and stretching into your routine.

Ultimately, the decision to stop during a marathon should be based on your physical and mental state. Listen to your body, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. With proper training and preparation, you can complete a marathon without stopping.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.