How to walk a marathon: Your complete guide

There’s no denying that walking nearly 50km is a long distance to cover, but not an impossible task. Unlike a leisurely 10km walk, walking a marathon requires dedication, patience, and high perseverance to complete all the miles successfully.

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This article will discuss in detail what you need to know to walk a marathon. Let’s see.

How long does it take to walk a marathon?

The time duration to cover a marathon differs from individual to individual.

Brisk walkers can complete the 26.2 miles in 6-7 hours, while slow walkers may take up to 8 hours and above. 

On average, it takes about 6-9 hours to walk a marathon.

Who should be a marathoner?

Any adult can be a marathoner. However, before you decide to take up such prolonged exercise, ensure you see a doctor to ensure you’re fit for it.

Who shouldn’t be a marathoner?

A marathon is as long as 26.2 miles and demands a lot of calories. Children are not advised to walk a marathon. Instead, it would be best if you considered taking them on a 3- 4 miles walk. This is because walking such a long distance can have adverse effects on their health. 

Pregnant women are also not advised to take such long-distance walks. However, you could consult with your doctor before starting one.

Is walking a marathon harder than running one?

In terms of intensity, walking a marathon is easier than running a marathon as running exerts more pressure on you and demands more energy level.

Even though it takes longer to walk a marathon, walking is still an easier way to cover a marathon. You do not want to subject yourself to such intense pressure.

But, if your goal is to be done with the marathon in the quickest time possible, walking may be considered more difficult; you should choose to run instead. It takes about 3 – 5 hours to run a marathon.

Can I walk a marathon without training?

Yes, you can. It all depends on your fitness level. If you’re starting up with exercises, then you should consider taking up some weeks of training, so your body is well-adapted for such a long-distance walk. 

However, if you have been active before now, a training plan may not be very necessary. You can do it nonetheless. 

How to prepare to walk a marathon 

The key to walking a successful marathon is consistently increasing the distance you walk each week gradually to allow your body to adapt to running over the long term. 

Adjust your diet 

Ideally, it would be best if you had a high-carb, low-fiber diet three to six hours before starting your marathon walk. It would help if you ate a meal before you started walking. This time spacing will help your body fully digest the food and reduce the risk of stomach problems during your run. 

If you only have an hour before starting your workout, eat a meal containing 50 grams of carbohydrates. Choose foods that generally contain water, good carbohydrates, iron, vitamin C, and good fats (foods with omega-3 acids, such as salmon and fish oil products).

Take enough water 

Get enough fluids before, during, and after your workout, especially during and after long-distance running. 

Get enough sleep and rest 

Making sure you get a good night’s rest is very important ahead of the day of your marathon. You need at least 8 hours of sleep every night. 

After a super intense and strenuous training session, you can take a 9-hour sleep so that your body can recover optimally. Adequate sleep and rest will help to strengthen your immune system, build and repair muscles, and sharpen your mental focus. 

All of these things will result in stronger performance during pre-workout and D-day marathons.

How to train to walk a marathon 

You could use a 19-week training schedule like this one:

First 4 weeks

  • Sunday: 8 miles 
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday:  4 miles
  • Wednesday: rest 
  • Thursday: 4 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles

Second 4 weeks

  • Sunday: 14 miles 
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 4 miles
  • Wednesday: rest 
  • Thursday: 4 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles

Alternate between 14- 16 miles on Sundays

Next four weeks

  • Sunday: 18 miles
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 4 miles
  • Wednesday: rest 
  • Thursday: 4 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles

Alternate between 12, 18- 20 miles on Sundays

Next four weeks

  • Sunday: 20 miles
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 4 miles
  • Wednesday: rest 
  • Thursday: 8 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles

Alternate between 20- 22 miles on Sundays

In the following two weeks, begin to taper down on your mileage. Walking 10 -14 miles on Sundays and 4 miles on other workout days is a good tip. On the week of your marathon, further reduce your mileage to 2-4 miles to enable your body to recover well from the stress of long walks before the marathon.

What do I need to walk a marathon?

Running shoes

Choose running shoes that are comfortable and fit snugly to your legs. Do not use new running shoes on your marathon day. You can, but you should also test them for strength in at least a few long-distance walking sessions, as well as after a strenuous workout or two. 

Running clothes

Avoid clothes made of cotton for your marathon. It’s better to choose clothes with synthetic materials, such as polypropylene, to keep your body dry and allow the skin to breathe during exercise.

In addition, adjust the clothes to the weather and climate during your workout or the D-day of your marathon walk. If the weather is cloudy or drizzling, wear a sports jacket or raincoat. However, if the weather is hot, wear a hat and gloves.

What are the risks involved in walking a marathon?

As you continue with your marathon preparation training, you can expect to get mild injuries like shin injury, heel pain, and sprains, which can be troublesome. As you might have thought, you will also be faced with fatigue.

Conclusion

With the right shoes and training schedule, you can walk a marathon in 6 hours! Remember to always keep your body hydrated during your exercises.