How Many Miles (Kilometers) do Marathoners Run?

When training for a Marathon there are so many questions one has regarding training schedules and so much differing information out there.  Here we provide you with correct answers to the most common questions.

Marathoners run on average between 80 and 120 miles (128 – 19 kilometers) per week to stay at the top of their game.  A beginner should start low and aim to be running 40 – 60 miles (64 – 97 kilometers) during their peak week of training.

How Many Miles a Week to Run to Stay Healthy

For general health, you actually don’t need to be out there pounding the pavements for hours on end. The recommendations for adults from the American Heart Association are 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise or 1.25 hours per week of intense aerobic exercise.

So this would translate to doing 2 x 40-minute runs per week, or 5 x 30-minute brisk walks per week, in order to stay in optimum health.

Aerobic exercise is all about the heart and lungs. During this type of activity, both of these organs get a good workout, pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body, to the brain and other organs, thereby improving the overall condition.

All exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins and that’s why you quite often get a “buzz” during and afterward.  Plus all of that extra oxygen to the brain has even been associated with a reduced risk of dementia!  As long as you start to breathe harder, raise your heart rate, and break into a light sweat, you are exercising.

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, light jogging, dancing, gentle cycling, or swimming.

Intense aerobic exercise includes running, jumping rope, faster cycling, hiking uphill, or with a heavy bag.

How to Prepare for a Marathon

There are many Marathon training plans out there, so many in fact that it can all be a bit mind-blowing. But it basically comes down to what works for you and it can take several Marathons before you really hit on the right formula.

As a beginner, the most important thing is that you build up gradually, preferably over a 6-month period (how long does it take to train for a marathon?) to lower the risk of injury or illness, which can be the blight of many a runner on race day. Overtraining can have a very negative impact on the body so be careful not to push too hard too soon.

The most important thing to understand at the outset is that training for a Marathon involves huge commitment, dedication, and lots of your precious time. So if you are not willing to commit, then you are not ready to run a Marathon!

For your very first marathon, you should be aiming to complete the distance and not focus on the clock.  It is a huge achievement in itself to just keep running for that distance, so don’t get hung up on time.

Can a beginner runner run a marathon?

If it’s your 2nd or 3rd+ Marathon, you will have learned a lot from your previous one(s) and will probably be looking to improve your time, but be realistic and not over-optimistic with your goals. No one wants to run that grueling distance and then feel like a failure because they set the bar unrealistically high!

Could you run a marathon without training?

OK, never say never right? We have all read or heard about people who say they completed a marathon without training for it, but you would have to be pretty stupid not to bother training.

Even elite athletes train for their events so why would a regular person not put the work in?  They are usually the ones that you see limping over the finishing line 8 hours later in excruciating pain – and quite deservedly so!

Even if you planned on walking the whole distance, you should most definitely do some training for it. Our muscles have to get used to the repetitive motion required from them over long distances and if you don’t do the training, you are going to put them through some serious stress and end up in agony and with a possible chronic injury!

As mentioned above, a Marathon requires time, dedication, and commitment.  The decision to run one shouldn’t be half-baked after a few beers!  It needs to be taken seriously and approached safely with the correct training.

For a deeper dive into the benefits and drawbacks of walking a marathon check out:

How long does it take to walk a marathon?

How to increase your Marathon training mileage

It is important to get used to running at least 4 days per week, 1 of which should be a slower, long-distance run.  This is so that your muscles and joints can gradually get used to running faster and further, getting stronger with every run and resulting in fewer injuries.

Short and Pacey

Your shorter runs should ideally be run at a comfortable pace for the first three months of training, gradually increasing them from 2-3 miles each to 7-8 miles each by race day, without stopping.

Longer and Slower

You should be doing a long, slow run once a week.  Most people do their long runs at the weekend or on a day off work.  These runs should ALWAYS be slower than your short runs and remember, these ones are all about getting the time on your feet.

You should start by doing double what you do on your shorter runs and be aiming to run 20 miles without stopping by three weeks out from the big day.  Then you start your tapering phase to make sure your muscles get the recovery before race day.

Related: 10 Tips To Keep Running When You Feel Like Stopping

How many miles do elite runners run a week?

Elite runners will run anywhere between 70-140 miles per week (Runners World) (64 – 225 kilometers) depending on what they are training for.  For example, if they are training for a 5km race they would probably run a max of 80 miles per week, focusing on speed.

If they are in training for a 10km race it would increase to a max of 100 miles per week.

For a half Marathon, they would be doing 100-110 miles per week right through to the full Marathon training where they would be running 100-140 miles per week.

So you can see how conditioned these guys are and how much hard graft they put their bodies through to achieve their goals.  This is why it is so important to build up gradually over time to condition the muscles for what lies ahead.

How many miles a week should I be running for a half marathon?

If after everything you have read you decide a whole Marathon isn’t for you, why not try a half Marathon?  It is my personal favorite distance and not too grueling on the joints. Plus, you can focus on your race time a bit more with this one and I bet you will finish feeling the urge to try a full one next time!

To achieve a decent half Marathon time you should be looking to start your training at least 3 months beforehand, with a view to gradually increasing your running from 10 miles per week to 30 miles per week.  You will still need to do shorter, faster runs as well as the weekly long run, making sure you have a 10-miler under your belt before race day.

7 habits of highly effective marathon runners

Sticking with the program

An experienced Marathon runner will always keep their cool and not get carried away if one week they feel particularly strong.  They will stick with the program as running is cumulative, and pushing harder before time could result in serious setbacks.

Learning to drink from cups whilst running

Along the Marathon course, there will be water stations and not all of them offer bottles.  Quite often there will be plastic cups which really aren’t great as half the contents get spilled as you try to drink from it whilst not wanting to break your stride.

Squeezing the top of the cup together forms a kind of spout and also helps to keep the contents inside the cup, so give this a practice as hydration during a race is essential.

Should you carry your water for your half marathon or marathon race?

Get your gear ready

Layout all your running gear before you go to bed and put your alarm on the other side of the room.  This means you will have to get out of bed to turn it off, and the sight of your running clothes reminds you to get your butt into gear. As most Marathons are morning races, you need to get used to running at this time of day.

Don’t forget this checklist for half marathons and marathons. This checklist includes your pre-race, race, and post-race must-have items.


Always warm-up before breaking into your run.  This can be a simple mobilizing of the joints and muscles. Try doing rotations of your legs and arms to warm up those hip and shoulder joints. Also, the neck is an area that can stiffen up over long distances as a result of poor posture.


So many people make the mistake of trying carb-loading for the first time the night before a race.  This can result in all kinds of gastrointestinal issues during your run that can seriously affect your performance.

Get used to carb-loading before all of your 12+ mile-long runs.  Also, stick to the same breakfast and do not change a thing on race day or you may live to regret it.

Early to bed

Any serious runner will be tucked up in bed getting as much restorative sleep as possible the night before a run. In fact, throughout your whole training schedule, you should be getting adequate sleep.  This is needed for muscle and joint recovery before the next hammering.

Stretch and Roll

It is so important to stretch out those muscles after EVERY run, no matter how short. Your muscles will be warm and will respond gratefully to a good old stretch. Make sure you increase the stretch gradually and remember to do the upper body too!

Using a foam roller is a fantastic way to roll out accumulated tension in the muscles.  But a word of warning – it can be absolutely excruciating! Stick with it though and you will reap the benefits for sure!

I personally use a trigger point massage ball. It’s great for tight muscles and it’s easily portable so you can take it with you when you travel. You can check it out on my recommendations for runners page.

Related: How To Pack Your Suitcase For a Destination Running Race!

Are you looking for motivation to run a marathon? Here are 20 reasons why you should run a marathon.

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Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
  • RRCA Certified Youth Running Coach
  • NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).
  • NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach)
  • NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist)
  • ACE SFC (Stretching and Flexibility Coach)
  • ACE GFI (Group Fitness Instructor)
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 22nd 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 Many Miles (Kilometers) do Marathoners Run?

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