What Training Do I Need to Walk a Half Marathon?

Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Starting Line
Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Starting Line. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Question: What Training Do I Need to Walk a Half Marathon?

I already walk 5-7 miles several times a week at a speed of under 15 minute miles. Am I ready to walk a half marathon, or what further training do I need?

Answer: How to Train to Walk a Half Marathon

The half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers long. You have a good mileage base, the minimum needed before starting longer distance training for a half marathon.

That's also the starting point before beginning marathon training.

In my experience, you could probably go out tomorrow and make it through a 13.1 mile half marathon, but finishing would probably be your only achievement. 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. I've had friends who simply went out an walked or run/walked a half marathon with your level of training, and they didn't make that mistake twice.

Mileage Building for the Half Marathon Walk

It would be good to walk a longer day once a week, gradually increasing your mileage. Walkers do well increasing their long day by 2 miles every 2 weeks. If you are walking 7 miles now, you should do a long day of 9 miles this week, and drop back to 7 miles for the longest day the next week. Then put in a long day of 11 miles the next week. If you have more time to put into it, walk 12-13 miles for your long walk of the week and concentrate on pacing.

Then allow for 1-2 weeks of lower mileage before your half marathon race.

Good Training Effects

By increasing your long day in steps, you give your body time to build endurance and become accustomed to the longer mileage. This will help toughen your feet further and help with endurance during the event.

The Agony of the Feet

For many years, I only walked 10K (6.2 miles) at a time at volkssport events. Jumping up to 10 miles or 13 miles, I would experience blisters that I would never have at lower miles. I had to learn new blister prevention techniques for use at higher mileage.

Hydration and Energy Snacks at Longer Miles

When walking a half marathon, you will be out on the route for twice as long and getting the proper amount of liquids and snacks becomes much more important. I can usually enjoy a 10K walk with one bottle of water and no snacks. But going farther means needing some carbs to fuel the body. 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. Use these methods to predict your finish time. While it's easier in my area of the country to find walker-friendly half marathons, not every race is organized to accommodate slower racers.

It's best to know this before you register. How to find a walker-friendly marathon or half marathon. Even if you find one that welcomes walkers, you may discover things are different at the tail end of a race. Not all of it is bad, but it can be lonely and you need to be prepared: 10 ways races fail walkers.

Half Marathon and Marathon Step by Step Advice

Find out how to train for and walk a half marathon or marathon, including advice on shoes, clothing, hydration, snacks, training schedules, and race day tips.
Training to Walk a Marathon or Half Marathon

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