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How Many Steps Does It Take to Complete a Marathon and a Half-Marathon?

A marathon is a long-distance running event with a standard length of 42.195 kilometers or 26.2 miles.

Originating from the ancient Greek soldier Pheidippides's run from the city of Marathon to Athens, it has since become a popular athletic challenge worldwide.

Competitors in a marathon require extensive training and endurance to complete the race.

Today, marathons are held in various cities globally, often drawing large numbers of participants and spectators.

Published: September 14, 2023.

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When preparing for a marathon or half-marathon, monitoring your step count is likely a priority for you.

Tracking daily steps can be instrumental in advancing your fitness objectives, and knowing the typical number of steps in a marathon provides a tangible end goal.

This article delves into the significance of counting steps and determining the average number of steps in both a marathon and a half-marathon.

How Many Steps Does a Marathon Entail?

Typically, runners take around 39,730 steps to finish a marathon, while walkers might need approximately 54,180 steps to reach the end.
Count of Steps When Running a Marathon

Considering an average pace of 10 minutes per mile for both male and female runners, a marathon generally consists of about 39,730 steps.

On the other hand, elite runners might cover the distance in merely ~28,560 steps, whereas those running at a slower pace could require up to 52,320 steps to complete the marathon.

Steps Counted During a Marathon Walk

On average, both male and female walkers require about 54,180 steps to traverse a marathon.

For men, the average count is roughly 52,950 steps. However, those walking at a more leisurely pace might need up to 61,000 steps, whereas brisk walkers might only take 44,600 steps.

Women, on the other hand, average about 54,150 steps to reach the marathon's end. The quickest among them can finish in just ~46,240 steps, while those at a more relaxed pace may require as many as 62,120 steps.

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How Many Steps Does a Half-Marathon Comprise?

For runners, a half marathon typically involves approximately 20,200 steps.

On the other hand, those walking the distance generally clock in around 26,800 steps to reach the end.

Stride Count in a Half-Marathon Run

Swift runners might cover the half marathon distance in just 14,280 steps, whereas those with a slower pace could require up to 26,100 steps.
Steps Taken When Walking a Half-Marathon

Walkers, on average, need about 26,800 steps to finish a half marathon. Rapid female walkers might only require 23,100 steps, whereas more leisurely-paced walkers could take up to 31,000 steps.

For men, the general step count stands at around 26,500. Slower-paced male walkers might need as many as 30,600 steps, while the quicker ones could finish in roughly 23,100 steps.

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Variables Influencing Your Step Count

The provided step estimates are general averages. Individual step counts can vary widely due to several influencing factors.

  • Stride Length: The distance covered in each step or stride. Generally, people take larger strides while running compared to walking, resulting in fewer steps for the same distance.
  • Stature (Height): Taller individuals usually have longer legs, allowing for potentially longer strides, which might lead to fewer steps over a given distance.
  • Age: With age, one's gait can change, potentially altering stride length. For instance, some older individuals may take shorter, more careful steps, resulting in a higher step count over the same distance.
  • Pace of Movement: Faster walking or running can influence stride length. Quick walkers or runners might cover more ground with each step, thereby taking fewer steps over a given distance.
  • Gender Differences: Due to differences in average height and biomechanics between genders, women might, on average, have a slightly different step count than men for the same distance.
  • Mode of Movement: Choosing to walk or run directly impacts stride length and frequency. This is why, for the same distance, runners generally record fewer steps than walkers.
  • Terrain: Running or walking on uneven surfaces, uphill or downhill, can alter one's gait and, consequently, the number of steps taken.
  • Footwear: The type of shoes worn can influence one's gait and step length. For instance, running in spikes versus regular training shoes might alter step frequency and length.
  • Fatigue: As one gets tired, stride length might decrease, leading to an increased step count for the remaining distance.
  • Running Efficiency: Experienced runners might have a more consistent and efficient stride, influencing their step count compared to novice runners.

It's worth noting that while these factors influence step count, the actual impact can vary from person to person. Personalized tracking and assessment are invaluable for those keen on understanding their specific patterns and metrics.

Why Monitor Step Count in Marathon Training?

Monitoring step count during marathon training offers several benefits and insights for runners, both amateur and professional:

  • Pacing and Efficiency: Tracking steps can help determine optimal pacing strategies. A consistent step count can indicate maintaining a steady pace, vital for endurance events like marathons.
  • Improved Form and Stride: By understanding their step count and stride length, runners can make informed adjustments to their running form, potentially leading to better performance and reduced injury risk.
  • Endurance Measurement: Observing variations in step count over long runs can indicate levels of fatigue, helping runners recognize when they might be pushing too hard or when they can afford to push harder.
  • Goal Setting: Having a benchmark step count provides a clear metric for runners to set and achieve training goals. This can be especially helpful in building up to longer distances.
  • Injury Prevention: A sudden change in step count or stride length could signal a change in running mechanics, which might be due to discomfort or the onset of an injury. Early detection can aid in taking preventive measures.
  • Training Progress Tracking: By routinely monitoring step counts over the course of training, runners can gauge improvements in their endurance and speed, providing motivation and ensuring they are on track for race day.
  • Personalized Training: Everyone's biomechanics and running styles are unique. By understanding their specific step count and how it relates to speed, runners can tailor their training programs more effectively.
  • Holistic Fitness Tracking: Many devices that track steps also monitor other fitness metrics like heart rate, distance, and calories burned, giving runners a comprehensive view of their training sessions.

In essence, while distance and speed are fundamental metrics in marathon training, step count offers another layer of insight, helping runners refine their technique, measure progress, and achieve their marathon goals.

For devoted runners and walkers, it's essential to first establish an average step count baseline before diving into any serious marathon training.

Knowing your unique step count provides a foundation to gauge improvement and track advancements.

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Top Methods to Track Your Steps

With modern tools and gadgets, step tracking has become a breeze. Several devices can assist in monitoring your steps and keeping tabs on your training milestones.


For those focused solely on counting steps during their runs, pedometers serve as a straightforward tool. Just attach one, and it will provide an accurate tally of your steps.


Arguably the most efficient method, a smartwatch not only tracks your steps but also monitors your heart rate and other vital metrics. Simply wear it on your wrist, and you're set to go.


For those without a smartwatch, smartphones are a handy alternative. There are myriad step-counting apps available for download that effectively monitor your movements.


When running at home and preparing for a marathon, a treadmill with Google Maps and automatic incline can be of great help to simulate running conditions but also to count your steps not just during the whole marathon but also during uphills (shorter strides) and downhills (generally longer strides).


How Long Should One Train For a Half Marathon?

The duration required to train for a half marathon varies depending on several factors, including a person's current fitness level, running experience, and the specific goals they aim to achieve (e.g., merely completing the race versus targeting a specific finish time).

Here are some general guidelines based on different starting points:

Beginners with Minimal Running Experience

  • Duration: 12-20 weeks.
  • Description: If you're new to running or have been inactive for a while, you'll want to start slowly to build a base and avoid injuries. Initial weeks focus on building stamina with shorter runs and gradually increasing mileage.

Intermediate Runners

  • Duration: 10-16 weeks.
  • Description: For those who have some running experience, perhaps regularly running 3-5 miles comfortably, a 10 to 16-week training plan can be suitable. Such plans often incorporate a mix of long runs, tempo runs, and interval training.

Experienced Runners

  • Duration: 8-12 weeks.
  • Description: If you're already running regularly and have possibly completed a few races, you may not need as long to prepare. Emphasis will be on refining pace, building speed, and endurance, and tapering appropriately before the race.

Advanced Runners with Specific Time Goals

  • Duration: 8-12 weeks.
  • Description: Advanced runners might already have the mileage but will focus on specific workouts to improve their race pace, running efficiency, and time. This includes speed workouts, hill training, and strategic long runs.

No matter the plan, a few core components are typically included:

  • Long Runs: These help build endurance and are gradually increased each week until a couple of weeks before the race.
  • Rest Days: Essential for recovery and injury prevention.
  • Cross-Training: Activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training can boost fitness without over-stressing running-specific muscles.
  • Taper Period: 1-2 weeks before the race, reducing mileage to ensure you're well-rested on race day.

Always listen to your body throughout the training process. It's crucial to adjust based on how you feel, ensuring you don't push too hard and risk injury.

If possible, consulting with a coach or joining a training group can provide personalized guidance and support.

And remember, a marathon is twice the length of a half-marathon, but it is at least four times the effort ...

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Running Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about running a marathon and running in general:

How long is a marathon?

A marathon is a long-distance race with a standardized length. Here's how it breaks down across various units of measurement:

  • Kilometers (km): 42.195 km
  • Meters (m): 42,195 m
  • Miles: 26.2 miles
  • Yards: 46,145.9 yards (approximately)
  • Feet: 138,435 feet (approximately

It's worth noting that the specific distance in feet and yards may vary slightly depending on the exact length used for 26.2 miles (since a mile is standardly 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards, but rounding can introduce minor discrepancies). However, the figures provided are close approximations.

How many steps does running a mile take?

Typically, running a mile involves about 1500 steps. This estimate assumes an average stride length of up to 2.5 feet and a 10-minute mile. If you have a longer stride and run at a brisker pace, the step count might be closer to 1000 for the same distance.

How many steps are involved in walking a mile?

On average, walking a mile requires approximately 2,000 steps, equating to about 10,000 steps for every five miles.

This 10,000-step benchmark is also a recommended daily target for those preparing for extended runs or walks.

For marathon or half-marathon training, gradually increase your daily steps in line with your workout regimen until you cover the half-marathon distance (roughly 13.1 miles) or the full marathon distance (about 26.2 miles).

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How many calories does the average runner burn during a marathon?

The number of calories burned during a marathon can vary significantly based on several factors, including a runner's weight, age, gender, metabolic rate, running efficiency, and speed. However, a general estimation for the average runner is ~100-150 calories per mile.

Using this range, for a marathon (26.2 miles), one may calculate:

2,620 calories (at 100 calories per mile) to 3,930 calories (at 150 calories per mile)

So, an average runner might burn between 2,620 and 3,930 calories during a marathon.

It's crucial to remember that these are rough estimates, and the actual number can vary based on the individual and the conditions on the race day. If someone is keen on getting a more precise estimate, they might consider using a personalized metabolic test or a wearable fitness tracker.

What to eat before a marathon?

What you eat before a marathon can significantly impact your performance and comfort during the race. Proper nutrition ensures that you have adequate energy reserves, prevents stomach upset, and can also aid in muscle function.

Here are some general guidelines for marathon nutrition in the days leading up to and the morning of the event:

Days Leading Up to the Marathon

  • Carbohydrate Loading: About 3-4 days before the marathon, gradually increase your carbohydrate intake. This helps maximize the storage of glycogen, the primary energy source for long-distance running, in your muscles and liver.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the race. It's also a good idea to include electrolyte-rich drinks to ensure balanced electrolyte levels.
  • Avoid New Foods: Stick to foods you're familiar with to reduce the risk of digestive problems. It's not the best time to try new or exotic foods.
  • Balanced Meals: Ensure your meals include a balance of carbohydrates (like pasta, rice, and potatoes), lean proteins (like chicken, tofu, or fish), and healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, and olive oil).

The Night Before

  • Eat Early: Have your dinner at least 10-12 hours before the marathon's start time. This allows adequate time for digestion.
  • Choose High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fiber Foods: Opt for a meal that's rich in carbohydrates but low in fiber to minimize the risk of digestive upset. Pasta with a simple tomato sauce and lean protein is a popular choice.

The Morning of the Marathon

  • Eat a Familiar Breakfast: 3-4 hours before the start, have a breakfast that you've tried before on training days. A combination of easily digestible carbohydrates and a small amount of protein is ideal. Examples include oatmeal with a banana and a spoonful of almond butter, or toast with honey and a boiled egg.
  • Limit Fiber and Fat: Both can slow digestion and may lead to stomach upset during the race. Keep intake of these low in the morning meal.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink water in the hours leading up to the race, but don't overdo it to avoid frequent bathroom breaks. Consider sipping on an electrolyte drink.
  • Avoid Caffeine if Unaccustomed: While some runners swear by a pre-race coffee, if you're not used to caffeine, race day isn't the time to start. It can cause stomach upset or increased bathroom needs.
  • Consider a Snack: If there's a long wait between breakfast and the race start, consider having a small, carbohydrate-rich snack, like a banana or an energy gel, about 30-45 minutes before the race.

Always remember that individual needs can vary. What works for one runner might not work for another. The key is to test your pre-race meals and snacks during training runs to find out what suits you best.

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Few Final Words

Understanding and monitoring one's step count during marathon and half-marathon training can provide valuable insights into one's progress, stride length, and pacing.

While the average steps may vary based on factors like height, gender, and running speed, having a benchmark aids in setting clear goals.

As technology continues to make tracking more accessible, from pedometers to home and commercial treadmills, there's never been a better time for runners to harness this data.

Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or a beginner aiming for your first half-marathon, being mindful of your steps can be a game-changer in achieving your personal best.

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