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Walking a Half Marathon: How Long Does It Take + Free Training Plan

Walking a half marathon is an excellent option for both runners and non-runners alike. As the cutoff times for many half marathons are being extended, more and more athletes are being able to check off this bucket list goal.

Learning how long it takes to walk a half marathon, as well as finding and following an appropriate training plan are both key for success.

Is it okay to walk a half marathon?

Yes – it is certainly okay to walk a half marathon!

Walking a half marathon is becoming increasingly popular as races expand and popularity grows. If you plan to walk a half marathon, you’ll need to estimate how long it will take and search for a race with a cutoff time that accommodates your finish.

Many non-runners, and even runners, are embracing the opportunity to walk a half marathon. A 13 mile walk requires different muscles than running, so even if you have run a half marathon before, appropriate training is key.

Reasons to Try Walking a Half Marathon

Athletes find themselves planning to walk a half marathon for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons to give it a try and make a 13.1 mile walk your next goal!

  • Injury or pain prevents you from running
  • Accomplish this bucket list goal even if you dislike running
  • Spend time and accomplish goals with friends or family
  • Raise money and walk for charity
  • Conquer the goal even after an injury prevents you from running
  • Get back into shape after a break
  • Embrace the positive atmosphere at running events
  • Join running friends at their races

Can you walk a half marathon without training?

The answer to this question will vary from one person to the next. In short, yes, it is possible to walk a half marathon without training. Most individuals in good health have the ability to walk 13.1 miles.

However, walking a half marathon without training is bound to hurt and even potentially lead to injury. Although walking results in less impact that running, the time on your feet is significantly longer. In addition, walking a half marathon utilizes different muscles than running.

If you fail to train for a 13.1 mile walk, your body will likely suffer pain and possibly even injury during and/or after the race. Athletes who are in exceptional physical shape still are not fully prepared to walk a half marathon unless they have trained their body with long walks beforehand.

Related: 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Half Marathon

How long does it take to walk a half marathon?

The amount of time it takes to walk a half marathon varies anywhere from 3 – 5 hours, depending on pace. Some power walkers in peak physical shape will be able to finish a half marathon in 3 hours, while many others require 4 or even 5 to cross the finish line.

Here is a breakdown of half marathon finish times for walkers with each corresponding average pace.

Half Marathon Walking Finish Times

Half Marathon Finish Time (Hour:Min)Average Pace (MPH)
3:0013:44
3:1514:53
3:3016:01
3:4517:11
4:0018:19
4:1519:28
4:3020:37
4:4521:45
5:0022:54
5:1524:03
5:3025:11
5:4526:20

Can you walk a half marathon in running shoes?

Yes, it is certainly possible to walk a half marathon in running shoes. However, most walkers will find it much more beneficial to get fitted for shoes designed for walking.

Gait, foot strike and posture vary greatly from running to walking. They type and amount of support, cushioning and drop in walking versus running shoes vary as well, which means that walking long distances in running shoes will not provide the support you need.

It is recommended that anyone planning to walk a half marathon get fitted for shoes designed specifically for walking as opposed to running.

Walking a half marathon is a great option for runners and non-runners alike. Check out how long it takes to walk a half marathon + a free training plan.

How to Train for Walking a Half Marathon

Training to walk a half marathon is similar to training to run a half marathon, with just a few differences. Checkout some of the key differences and important components of a half marathon walking program.

  • Measure by time instead of distance: weekly walks are measured by time (30 minute walk, 75 minute walk, etc.) as opposed to distance (3 mile run, 7 mile run).
  • Less variety in pace: most walks will be completed at your planned walking pace for race day.
  • Weekly long walks, increasing in time: the key component of training is a weekly long walk. Each week, these walks will gradually increase in time to build endurance.
  • Practice fueling and hydration: a race day fueling strategy is essential for walkers. Long walks during training should be used to practice and perfect your race day fuel strategy.
  • Cross training: maximizing physical fitness and endurance is important for walking a half marathon. Cross and strength training workouts should be incorporated on a weekly basis.
  • Rest: the body needs time to recover from training of any kind, including walking. At least one complete rest day should be observed each week.

Half Marathon Fueling for Walkers

Fueling is just as important for walking a half marathon as it is when running. In fact, a fueling strategy might be even more essential for walkers than runners.

When you walk a half marathon, you’ll be on your feet for significantly longer than if you were to run. In addition, many aid stations close or run out of fuel before walkers arrive. Fuel and hydration are essential for walking 13.1 miles, so here are a few tips to create a plan for race day.

  • Practice and perfect your strategy during long training walks
  • Bring fuel with you, even if aid stations are available
  • Begin fueling about 45-60 minutes into your walk, and continue fueling every 30 or so minutes
  • Aim to consume fuel with high concentrations of carbohydrates
  • Continue to drink water and/or sports drinks along with your fuel
  • Eat breakfast and drink at least 16 oz of water 1-2 hours before the start of the race

Walking a Half Marathon: 16 Week Training Plan

This half marathon training plan is designed specifically for walkers. There are three training walks each week that gradually increase in time, peaking at a 3 hour long walk. Each week allows space for cross training, strength training and rest days.

A fitness base of being able to walk for 30 minutes comfortably is recommended prior to starting this half marathon walking program. This 16 week program will build fitness gradually, while minimizing the risk of injury.

If further training is warranted, feel free to extend the training plan to 20 or 24 weeks. Staying consistent is key to success with any half marathon walking plan!

Walking a half marathon is a great option for runners and non-runners alike. Check out how long it takes to walk a half marathon + a free training plan.

How to Find a Walker-Friendly Half Marathon

The best way to find a walker-friendly half marathon is to check the course cut off times. Most major half marathons share the course with a full marathon, which means that cut off times are much longer (ranging 6-8 hours).

Many larger half marathons list whether or not walking is permitted on the course website. If you find a half marathon which you can finish within the cutoff time by walking, even though it may not be explicitly stated on the website, you will be allowed to walk.

One other detail to note when searching for half marathons for walkers is how long the aid stations will remain open. If aid stations close before your anticipated arrival time, you can certainly still walk, but will need to bring your own fuel.

Walking a half marathon is an exciting accomplishment – and a challenge that is a great option for friends and family! Add one to your bucket list today.

More tips for walking a half marathon:

Andy

Saturday 2nd of March 2024

I hate to sound like a snob here, but walking an entire half marathon just seems wrong. Walking AND running are okay in my book, and I see this at almost every half that I run. I understand that people have bucket list activities, but is walking a half marathon an accomplishment? I'd feel like I cheated my self out of the experience. I'm glad that your post has training and fueling advice because anyone who is going to walk a half has no idea what they are doing or what they are getting themselves into.