Since the beginning of this year, a lot of people have made fitness as one of their primary goals to achieve. A lot of people fell behind on their fitness because of the lockdown and they want to get a head start.
And because there is still a risk working out in the gyms, running is the best option a lot of people have right now.
And who doesn’t want to finish a marathon or a half marathon? Almost every person out there that is passionate about fitness has this on their bucket list. They want to finish a marathon at least once at some point in their life. They don’t want to set a record or anything, they just want to have that under their belt.
But marathons take a lot of training and preparation right?
Yes it does.
But what if you didn’t have to run a marathon. What if you could walk a marathon?
Wouldn’t that still achieve your goal? And you can feel good about yourself because walking a marathon is still a big deal. It is not everyone’s cup of tea. In this article we are going to focus more on walking a half marathon than a full marathon because right now people are just starting to get back into fitness and it is understandable if they are not fit enough to walk a full marathon.
Most marathon walkers are slow walkers. It would take then anywhere between 3 and 4 hours to finish a marathon. If you are an extremely fast walker, you fall under a small percentage of marathon walkers that would be able to finish in 3 hours.
A majority of marathon walkers take somewhere between 3 to 4+ hours to finish a marathon.
Now that you know it is going to require you being on your feet for at least 4+ hours. Here’s the next thing you might think about:
Is it harder to walk a half marathon than running?
On the surface it might look like walking is harder than running because you have never walked for more than 4 hours. And if you are on your feet for that long, surely it must be harder than running because running requires much less time because you are covering your distance much faster.
Wrong. Walking is less taxing on your body because you are exerting less force. And yes, you are going at a slower pace but you are also not putting your body through a high intensity for such a long time period. You also have to consider your current level of fitness.
If you think you can run a marathon, then you are very fit. Think of it as a scale of 1 to 10.
10 being you can run a marathon tomorrow. 1 being your ankles get sore after walker 1km.
Most people fall anywhere between 4 and 6. Meaning, they can walk a couple of kilometers without training but then they start feeling exhausted after a certain point. And everybody’s exhaustion point is different.
The good news is that most marathon runners resort to a walk/run strategy when they are in a marathon race. That way, they can let their body recover a bit while walking.
Check the race before you start walking a half marathon
This is important because every race is different with different cutoff times. Most marathon races are strictly timed off and if you fall behind the slowest pace you will be picked up by a sweeper car.
If you want to walk a marathon you should look for races that allow you to have all the time in the world to finish a marathon. Of course this means a reasonable time because then people would end up taking over 24 hours to finish it.
Ideally, this race should allow people at least 4 hours to finish a marathon.
Should you walk a marathon without any training?
Short answer, yes.
Long answer – it depends on whether you have any physical injuries that would prevent you from walking for that long. It also depends on whether you are in decent physical shape because your knees and ankles will be the ones managing the entire weight of your body the whole time.
If you have any doubts about your physical conditions to walk a marathon, it is best to get an approval from a licensed medical professional.
Better to be safe than have to suffer an injury on the race.
Can you walk a half marathon in 3 hours?
It is certainly possible but only a small percentage of marathon walkers can do that. My reasoning behind that is that the slowest runners can jog at a pace of 13 minutes/1.5km. And a half marathon is 22kms. So for the slowest jogger running at 13 minutes/1.5km, it would take them 3 hours and 17 minutes. Give or take 5-10 mins and you can say it will take them 3 hours and 30 minutes to finish.
Now, that’s how much time it takes for the slowest jogger to finish a half marathon. If you walk at that pace, then you can complete it in the same time. But most people walk slower than they jog. So it is safe to say that it will take them around 4 hours or probably more than 4 hours to complete a half marathon.
Will I need fuel if I’m walking a half marathon?
This is one of the most common questions and it is a great question. If you are a seasoned walker or runner, then you know the answer to this question.
But for the beginners out there – yes, you will need to bring some fuel with you.
Since you will be out on the marathon racecourse for at least 4+ hours, you will need to make sure that you bring a couple of energy bars and some chips. The goal here is to consume at least 30 grams of carbohydrates every hour.
You need to make sure that your body has enough fuel going into it to keep going.
Should I start training for a couple of weeks to be able to walk a half marathon?
Short and easy answer – no.
But there are certain things you need to consider before you end up on the racecourse.
- Are you in good shape and not overweight? Do you have any medical conditions?
- Are you already walking a lot of kilometers during the week?
If you are overweight, you might want to lower your weight to be in shape to walk the marathon. This is important because walking for 22 kilometers while being overweight will destroy your knees and ankles. You don’t want that to happen to you.
Now, if you are in shape but you don’t walk that many kilometers during the week, you can still walk a half marathon but you might have some sore legs once you finish it. Or it could be worse – you might not be able to finish it at all.
It is best to up your walking volume 4-5 weeks prior to the race so your body can adapt to this change.
How do I assess my physical fitness?
Before deciding how hard you need to train to prepare for this half marathon, you need to assess your current level of fitness. You should start with assessing how long it takes for you to walk 1 kilometer. 12:25 minutes per kilometer is an extremely easy walking pace. If you can walk for several kilometers at that pace, then you won’t need to train that hard to lower that time.
Obviously the less time it takes for you to finish the half marathon the better.
If you find out that there is no way you can maintain the 12:25 minutes per kilometer pace then you need to start training harder than all the other walkers that are participating because it will take you more than 4 hours to finish this half marathon.
You can either start training harder to finish it less than 4 hours, or find a marathon that has a longer cutoff time than 4 hours.
Setting time aside for training
Now that you know your current level of fitness, you know what your training will look like for the next couple of weeks.
Even if you are fit and can walk a half marathon or even a full marathon tomorrow, I always recommend training and preparing. It is always a good idea to prepare and overshoot your goal than to underprepare and be surprised that you weren’t able to finish the marathon because something happened that you didn’t train for.
If you are serious about ticking off this bucket list item, then you should start setting time aside to train for this half marathon.
Training for 3 days a week is the bare minimum. You want to walk for 5.5 hours each week which will be a total distance of 27.2 kilometers.
Sure, it takes longer to walk to cover those kilometers than running. But keep in mind that it also takes less effort to walk than it takes to run.
Not just that, walking is way less taxing on your knees and ankles than running.
Can you walk a half marathon in 3.0 hours?
To finish a half marathon in 3 hours, you will need to walk at an average pace of 8:31 minutes per kilometer. Some slow paced runners like me can jog at around that pace. So unless you will be brisk walking the entire time, I recommend you do not aim for this pace. It will be difficult for you to maintain this pace for an entire 3 hours and you will be exerting more energy.
That will also require you to consume more carbohydrates every hour as well.
If you are a seasoned fast-paced walker, then you can definitely complete a half marathon in 3 hours.
It all depends on your current fitness levels and whether this is a reasonable goal for you or not.
If you are like me who just wanted to check this off my bucket list, then any pace would work just fine for you. But if you like competing and like setting records for yourself, then you should think about putting in more time for training and preparation to increase your pace.