Am I Allowed to Walk During a Race?

Race Etiquette

Walkers in race
Yellow Dog Productions

I want to sign up for a half marathon race, but I don’t know if I can run the entire distance. Am I allowed to walk during the race?

I've never heard of a race that disqualifies participants for walking at some point, so you're certainly not required to run the entire distance. In longer races especially, many participants take a short walking break at some point, whether they're walking through a water stop or up a hill, or using a planned race strategy of run and walk intervals.

Taking a walk break during a race can be beneficial for runners since it gives your running muscles and joints a chance to rest and recover. A short walk interval can also break up the monotony during a race, which can help you deal with the mental challenges and any discomfort you may be feeling.

Of course, if you plan to walk the majority of your race, you should make sure that the race you sign up for is walker-friendly. There are some races, from 5Ks to marathons, that have cut-off times, a time limit by which all participants must have crossed the finish line.

If you do plan to take some walk breaks during a race, just make sure that you still maintain good form and don't take it as an opportunity to really slow down and rest. You should keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle (not at your side) and take quick steps. That will make the transition back to running much easier.

Also, make sure that you're a courteous race participant.

If you know that you're going to stop running and take a walking break, move over to the side and make sure no one is running behind you. It can be annoying (and dangerous) when you're running and someone suddenly stops in front of you.

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