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How Long Is A Marathon?

Running a marathon should be on anyone’s bucket list. It is about perseverance, about limits and overcoming them, and about learning a lot about yourself. If you are reading this article now, you are probably thinking about running a marathon, and I can only encourage you to do it, there are a large number of benefits both physical and mental. Let’s answer this question first:

How Long is a Marathon?

The classical marathon is 26.2 miles or 42 km long in distance. This converts to 138,666 feet (42,165 meters) or 105.4 times around an official 400-meter track. 

I started running after reading an article, much like this one, about someone’s experience. The person who wrote it enjoyed it so much that later on ended up running ultra marathons on seven continents.

I am not saying that you should look up the Arctic Circle Marathon, but you should know that the level of endorphins and clarity of mind that you obtain after a long-distance race can’t be matched by anything else.

Are you motivated yet?

What is a good marathon time for a beginner?

Everyone wants to be fast and the amount of time from start to finish is the first thing they think about.

The truth is that at your first marathon, it doesn’t really matter. The truly important thing is to go and run the race, complete rather than compete.

Finishing is important too, but participating is your top priority.

Does it sound like silly advice that you might give to a 5-year-old? It does, but it’s not the same.

Participating in long-distance races changes the way you think about it and everything you know about running competitions. But, you only realize this after the race, sometimes it takes a few hours for it to sink in.

Most marathons have a 6 hours limit. The average time it takes an averagely trained runner to finish is 4.5 hours.

For more detailed information for all races including 5Ks, 10K, Half Marathons, and Marathons and their closure times, check out:

How long do marathons stay open for runners?

The marathon race as seen through a beginner’s eyes

These are a few of the steps that most first time runners go through while running their first marathon:

1. Adrenaline pumping

When you are at the start line you are all pumped up with adrenaline, the crowds are cheering, the runners are smiling and you are certain that you will finish with a good time, even if it is your first race and you have never run this much in your entire life. This is called optimism and an awesome hormone cocktail. It’s ok to fall for it, we all did.

2. Too fast out of the gate

You start running and due to all the experienced runners around you, your pace is all over the place and you run too fast. When you realize what is happening you fall way behind.

3. An hour in and pain arrives

One hour in the race and your legs start hurting. At this point, your brain is on your side and you start telling yourself how awesome you will feel at the end of the race, how proud you will be, and how much more powerful you will feel in your everyday life.

4. Marathon halfway point has been reached

You just passed the halfway point and your mind has been compromised. It keeps telling you that you are insane for doing this and that we have cars now, we don’t need to run for 26 miles for no good reason. However, you don’t stop because you are afraid that you will collapse and no one will pick you up.

5. The 20-mile mark – the wall?

While approaching the 20 miles mark, you hit the wall. You read about this but you also read that it can be avoided, and you thought that you will. You won’t, not at your first race. This is the point when your mind will become a superpower, one that you will use in life to overcome difficult situations. It will be the force that will convince your legs to move even if you can feel only pain.

For a detailed post of what “hitting the wall” means and how to prevent it check out:

What does “hitting the wall” mean in a marathon race

6. 2 miles left

There are only a few miles left until the finish line and everything around you has become a blur. You can see the road and a few other exhausted runners. You look at them like you are all on the same team, you even chatted a bit with a few of them a while back and you hope to talk to them more after you reach the finish line. But not now, now you are thinking about the comfort of your bed and the 48 hours nap that you are going to take when you finally collapse.

7. The finish line

You reach the finish line and get a medal. You have no idea how long it’s been since you started, it feels like forever because you are now a different person. You drink some sports drinks and eat some sweets and start to mingle. You didn’t fall asleep while talking to other runners, but you did plan some training sessions with your new friends and you start planning for the next race.

I finished my first marathon race right at the 5-hour mark and it was a fantastic experience. Naturally, if you decide to run another marathon, you will more than likely beat your first race time if you train accordingly. Anything under the time limit is a good marathon time for a first-time marathon runner.

Is running a marathon worth it?

Running a marathon is definitely worth it and here is why:

You will look better

Depending on your fitness level at the present time, your chances of looking better increase with each training. Even if you are a thin woman who fits perfectly into skinny jeans, you will still look better.

If you are attempting to lose weight, you hit the jackpot with long-distance running. Of course, any training can help you with that, but running for a long time makes you resist eating junk food.

Yes, you read that right. Over time you will learn that eating junk food affects your running. It makes it much worse and you can’t run as fast nor for as long as you can when you eat healthy foods.

So, you will get double the motivation to stay on track with your diet.

Running trains a large number of muscles. You first feel it in your legs, but after a few long-running sessions, you will realize that your abs and your back hurt too. The fact that they hurt is a constant reminder of not having used those muscles in a while.

After you start up a running regimen, you quickly learn that it trains muscles that you didn’t even know you had.

Your posture will improve, your complexion will look fresh and clothes will start fitting you better.

You will be healthier in the long and short term

Training for a marathon does more than just train muscles. It trains your heart and your lungs. In the short term, this translates into better oxygenation throughout your entire body, because more oxygen will reach your cells.

You will also notice that after a run you will feel more relaxed and you will be in a generally good mood (we call that the runners high, but more on that in a few seconds).

Your overall resting heartrate should start dipping into the 60s and 50s and possibly the 40s because you’re training your body to move your blood more efficiently through your heart.

Furthermore, there is a lot of evidence (here and here you can find just a bit of it) that shows the fact that running can lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of stroke and it also improves the overall brain function.

And there is even more. Since running trains muscles that improve your posture, most organs and systems will perform better because you won’t be putting unnecessary pressure on them, due to bad posture.

What many people don’t know is that marathon runners are expected to live longer, so if you want to live longer, and live a healthy life, running a marathon is definitely a good way to start.

The runner’s high

If this article was a book, the runner’s high would need a chapter of its own.

Running triggers the release of feel-good chemicals, it’s what keeps us going, and more importantly, what keeps us coming back for more.

But the really interesting thing happens after a long-distance run. After the pulse gets back to normal after we get home, shower and sit down. In the minutes that follow you can find the sweetest spot ever. It’s like running rearranged everything in your head and no thought runs wild anymore.

You will have to experience this on your own, it’s different for everyone and it is definitely worth running a marathon for it.

Is 30 miles a week enough for a marathon?

Running is very personal, and so is training. People are different and each individual has different needs and the truth is that you can’t know how much training you need in order to finish a marathon until you actually run a marathon.

Running 30 miles per week, on average, might help you finish a marathon, but it also may mean that you aren’t training enough.

One great way to test your training is to do a 20-mile run. That is usually just before the hardest point of the race. But, remember that when you train you don’t have the advantage of the right mindset. You get “in the zone” when you run the race, and you have a small boost of energy.

Usually, runners try to run an average of 40-50 miles a week at the peak week of training, when preparing for a race.

How do you not hit a wall in a marathon?

It’s never good to hit a wall. All you have to do is watch where you are going.

Joking aside, the dreaded wall in marathons, the one that appears around the 20 miles mark, is difficult to avoid for a beginner. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and I will tell you what to do in order to skip it, but you also need to accept the fact that it might happen.

Hitting the wall feels like you are done – like your legs aren’t legs and everything hurts like you’ve been crushed by a rock…like there is nothing left in you.

In order to understand the wall, you need to understand a bit of anatomy.

Our cells need glucose, it’s their fuel. The more we exercise, the more glucose is burned (This is one of the reasons running is good for people with type 2 diabetes).

Our muscles and liver store glycogen, a carbohydrate that is turned into glucose, for the cells to burn. So, glycogen is kind of a rainy days fund for glucose.

When we run and run we burn glucose, burn all the glycogen, and… and we hit the wall because we don’t have any more resources.

You can’t store more glycogen, but you can use your fat as fuel. So, to avoid the wall you need 2 things.

  1. Training

You need to train until you deplete your glycogen level, this way you will learn the symptoms and you will know when to take action. This is the equivalent of “running on tired legs” or “running on an empty stomach”

  1. Nutrition

Drinking and eating while running maintain a decent amount of glucose in your blood, which will facilitate fat burn. Drinking isotonic drinks and eating sweets while running, takes skill, but it’s the action that you need to take in order to prevent the wall from hitting you.

What you need to remember is that reaching the wall will teach you a lesson, one that would be more useful in training than on race day.

Why is running a marathon bad?

Running a marathon would be bad only if you are medically unfit to run or if you skip your warm-up or your training, and end up with muscle trauma.

There is some debate about how running many races could affect the kidneys and produce inflammation, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence that it could be harmful.

How much do marathon runners run a day?

Marathon runners are people like you. They have a family, a job, and a home to look after. If you imagined that we have extra time in our pockets, destined only for training, well…you are far from the truth.

Most marathon runners run for an hour a day, three days a week, and do a long run on weekends.

The mileage differs depending on the level of training that they have, but it gets better and better every day.

Why is a marathon 26.2 miles long?

The marathon appeared as an Olympic Sport and it was inspired by a Greek massager who is said to have died immediately after delivering his message, after 25 miles run from Marathon to Athens.

You might not care now, but when you run the full race, you will start caring about the 1.2 miles difference. Where does it come from?

The British Royal family requested it because they wanted the race to start from Windsor Castle, back in 1908. No one confirmed the story, but if you want to blame someone, you can blame Queen Alexandra – #BlameTheBrits.

What is the fastest marathon time?

The fastest marathon time was reached by Eliud Kipchoge in 1:59:40. It was recognized by Guinness World Records, but not by other institutions. You have to admit, that is super impressive.

Eliud Kipchoge, at this particular race, used pacers, which is forbidden in most of the big races such as Boston and New York. However, he still has the record for the fastest marathon ever.

How long does it take the average person to run a marathon?

The average person runs a marathon in around 4 and a half hours, but this is just statistics.

As I said before, running is very personal. There are good days and there are bad days. You simply cannot put a number on it, and you shouldn’t think about it too much.

How to train for a marathon?

If the answer to this question was one word, it should have been “dedication”. It takes dedication to train for a marathon along with a bit of stubbornness.

Before you begin your training, take a look at some YouTube tutorials. They will help you learn a few things and to stay motivated.

Here are the first basic steps:

  • Plan ahead

You will need to do a trail run to see how much you can run at 11 minutes per mile pace. You will also need to install an app to help you with your pacing, there are many of these and you can choose whatever you feel is right for you.

After you know these details, it’s only a matter of running every other day (to give also your body a chance to recover), but you need to plan to first add more miles, and then run faster.

There are many training plans for beginners, which you can find online.

Plan to have three runs during the week and a longer one during the weekend.

  • Warm-up

We all want to skip this step. In fact, we all do a couple of times, and we always think…”neah, it’s OK, I will just run slower at first” and then we limp for an entire week.

Never skip your warm-up.

  • Run

Running isn’t at all complicated. It’s in our DNA, we have been doing it for millions of years. If you want to train for a marathon, just go run and enjoy it.

How long is a marathon race?

Running isn’t a big deal at all, but the answer to this question is.

If the person answering this question would be a runner at the start line, they would answer enthusiastically “26.2miles”.

Someone in the middle of the race might answer: “too long”.

Most finishers would answer that the length is just right.

Running a marathon is truly a powerful experience. It can help you learn how to cope with hardship and how to work with your own emotions and pain, in order to overcome the urge to stop.

A marathon is 20% Motivation, 20% Determination, and 60% resilience! motivation, determination, and resilience (Spreadshirt T-Shirt Site).

For more marathon geek statistics check out: How many steps are in a marathon?

Coach Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach (Level 2). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 14th half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

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How Long Is A Marathon?
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