Training to Walk a Marathon

Country Music Half Marathon Walkers
Competitor Group ©

Is there a difference in how walkers and runners train for the marathon? There is no difference from the standpoint of mileage put in per training session.

Like runners, you need to build a base of walking mileage and from there progress to increasing mileage each week, finally tapering before the marathon. In this section we will cover:

  • Shoes for the Marathon: learn what kind of shoes can get you to the finish line, and plan on wearing out a couple of pairs in training!
  • Base Mileage: Here is where you need to be before you start serious distance training. First, you have to be used to fitness walking every other day and a longer walk once per week.
  • Marathon Mileage-Building Schedule: Once you are ready, this 19-week schedule will steadily build your longest mileage day each week.
  • Half-Marathon Training Schedule: Use this 16-week schedule to prepare for a half marathon 13.1-mile walk.
  • Marathon Coaching and Charity Marathon Programs: Training is a long process. Having a coach, training group and training plan can help. You may want to join in a charity marathon program that provides this, in return for fundraising.

What Marathon Training Does for You

Consistency in your training is essential to completing the marathon in good shape and preventing common marathon injuries. You may choose to train on your own, with a group of friends, or join a club or group specifically training for the marathon.

Training works on the level of the local muscle, building the numbers of mitochondria - the energy-producing organelles of the muscle cells -- and the number of capillaries which bring oxygenated blood to the muscles and removes toxic byproducts. For the marathon, you want to train your muscles for aerobic and endurance work, not for the explosive work of weight lifting. Training also builds your heart and lung capacity, allowing you to get oxygenated blood efficiently through your muscles and tissues.

Walking Form and Technique for the Marathon

When training for the marathon, your first step should be to analyze your walking form and ensure you are using good posture and an efficient walking motion. You may want to use your shorter within-week workouts to specifically pay attention to your form.

Critique yourself for common walking mistakes and problems. Are you leaning forwards or backward too much? Do you hang your head and stare at the ground? Do your muscles and joints and back ache after a walk?

Walking technique and form problems can lead to injury during training and during the marathon. You have made a commitment to train, so you may as well train yourself in a good walking form so your body moves smoothly and feels better.