How to Walk a Half Marathon

Half Marathon Walkers
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What training do you need to walk a half marathon? The half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers long. It will take 3 to 4 hours to complete at a continuous brisk walking pace. You will need to build up your walking distance over the course of a couple of months to cross the finish line feeling great.

Mileage Base Before Training

First, you need to build up your walking endurance to establish a good mileage base of walking comfortably for 3 miles. That's the minimum needed before starting longer distance training for a half marathon or marathon.

If you are starting from a higher base (comfortable walking 5 to 7 miles at a time), you could likely make it through a 13.1 mile half marathon without training. But it's probably going to hurt.

You won't want to make that mistake twice. If you want to feel great at the finish, rather than hobbling in with blisters, aches, and pains, you should train at higher mileage once a week. Find out how long the half marathon should take you based on your average pace, below.

Mileage Building for a Race Walk

Once you have a good base established, walk a long day once a week, gradually increasing your mileage. Walkers do well by increasing their long day by 2 miles every 2 weeks. Follow the Half-Marathon Training Schedule if you have 16 weeks to train before your event.

By increasing your long walk distance gradually, you give your body time to build endurance and become accustomed to the longer mileage. This will help toughen your feet and help with endurance during the half-marathon.

For an abbreviated schedule, if you are already able to walk 7 miles now, you should do a long day of 9 miles in your first week of training. Drop back to 7 miles for the longest day the next week. Add more mileage to your long walk for the next few weeks, and concentrate on pacing. Then allow for 1 to 2 weeks of lower mileage before your half marathon race. You should also keep up with training on other days of the week; this chart focuses on your weekly long-distance day only.

  Longest Training Walk
Week 1 9 miles
Week 2 7 miles
Week 3 11 miles
Week 4 12 to 13 miles
Week 5 7 miles
Week 6 6 miles

Foot Protection While Training

You may be a person who never gets blisters walking for your usual distance. But once you increase your distance in training for a half marathon, you may begin to have this problem. You might also find that shoes with more cushioning will result in having less foot and leg fatigue when you are walking higher mileage.

Hydration and Snacks at Longer Miles

When walking a half marathon, you will be out on the route for 3 to 4 hours. Getting the proper amount of liquids and snacks becomes much more important. You will need some carbs to fuel your body over that time period. Your long walks are the time to experiment with this and get it right.

If your half marathon provides on-course sports drink and snacks, it is best to use those same products on your long training walks to see if you tolerate them well.

Walker-Friendly Half Marathons

You need to know what your finish time is likely to be so you are sure you are entering a half marathon you'll be able to finish before the cutoff time. Be aware that not every race is organized to accommodate slower racers. It's best to know this before you register. 

Even if you find one that welcomes walkers, you may discover things are different at the tail end of a race. It's wise to carry your own water and snacks, for example, as they may have run out or folded up the support stops by the time you reach them.

A Word From Verywell

Training for and completing a half marathon walk is very rewarding. And you can do it in just a few months, especially if you are already accustomed to walking regularly.

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