How to Walk Half Marathons – From Training to Crossing the Finish Line

Do you want to walk a half-marathon, but you’re afraid you can’t do it?

As someone once said, there are no shortcuts in marathons. If you go on that race track, you’ll stay on it until you cross the finishing line, and that’s easier said than one.

Sitting on the couch, you may be thinking it’s hard to walk half marathons. If you have enough resilience, patience, and mental toughness, you’ll be able to do it with some training.

Here, I’ll let you know how to walk half marathons, starting from training for it until you cross the finish line.

walk half marathons

Half Marathon Training – How Often Should You Do It?

Training is key to finishing a half marathon in a reasonable duration. If you attempt to do it without training, you’ll either need to stop in the middle or have sore legs afterward. That’s also considering you’re already fit, not overweight, and walk a lot more than the average person.

If someone who doesn’t walk a lot attempts to walk half marathons, they’ll likely get too tired before finishing.

For half marathon training, you need to train at least three days per week. In the first week, you can work on covering 17 miles, which should take a total of five and a half hours, considering the training pace.

The thing with walking is, it takes a whole lot more time than running. So, you’ll need to dedicate a lot of hours in a week for training. The good news is, you won’t make as much effort as a runner does for the same distance.

How to Start Half Marathon Training

The first step in training for half marathons is determining your walking pace. After you determine it, you’ll start working on upgrading it.

Okay, how should you do this then?

The answer is easy; you need to see how long it takes you to walk a mile. The bare minimum to cover a half marathon is 18 minutes per mile, and that means you’ll finish the half marathon in four hours.

If you’re starting from scratch, you can begin by walking 20 minutes a mile. If you can’t get your pace to that, you’ll need some time and a lot of training because it’s basically lower than the required minimum. No one wants to walk a half marathon in more than four hours.

Here are three steps you can do to start training:

Find an Entry-Level Cutoff Time

The first step in training is to attempt to walk a half marathon and see how your pace goes. To do that, you’ll want to find a race track that offers a generous cutoff time, such as 4-5 hours. Some tracks will also let you finish whenever you can, so these are a good option if you’re just starting.

You can try to walk the track and get an idea of how fast you are and whether you’re able to complete it.

Do Interval Walking Workouts

Interval walking includes changing your pace from average to brisk walking. The fast intervals are challenging; that’s why they only last for a minute or two. After that, you return to your regular pace, and you get the chance to recover before repeating.

For example, in a 30-minute interval training, you switch from a moderate pace to a brisk one every two minutes. So, you walk two minutes moderately, then two minutes fast, then repeat. In the last five minutes, keep your pace moderate so that your body cools down.

How Long Does It Take to Walk Half Marathons?

How long it’ll take you to walk half marathons depends on your readiness, training, and your fitness level. A walker with average fitness levels can walk a half marathon in four hours. However, for that to happen, they need to cover each mile in around 18 minutes-specifically 18 minutes and 18 seconds.

If you can manage to reach that, you’ll be able to cover half a marathon in four hours.

A well-established walker can walk a half marathon in three and a half hours. To do that, your speed should cover each mile in 16 minutes. You may think the two-minute difference is nothing, but it requires some pretty solid training.

To upgrade from four hours to three and a half hours, you need to include some speed workouts in your half marathon training plan.

Some seasoned walkers can cover half marathons in only three hours, but that’s something not anyone can do. To do that, you need to cover each mile in 13 minutes and 43 seconds. Unless you’ve been training for years, that may be a bit hard to achieve.

You can try to reach this pace by brisk walking. However, it’ll be hard to maintain the same pace for three hours unless you’re a professional runner.

How to Increase Your Pace for Half Marathons

If you’re working on your pace for half marathons, you need to know what to work on and how to do it. Here are some tips to get you started.

Maintain the Right Posture

You need to maintain the right posture when walking fast and moderately. For moderate walking, your spine needs to be straight, and your arms should be naturally swinging. Meanwhile, while walking fast, your spine will naturally lean forward. Your arms will also accelerate their swinging to support your body.

If you want to inject some running into your training, make sure to maintain the proper form. Your spine should be in its natural position, with your pelvis and tailbone under your ribs. On top of that, try not to twist your hips. Lean forward, but don’t twist.

Practice Your Breathing Pattern

If you can’t breathe properly while walking, that may be the reason for your never-increasing pace. You need to take deep breaths, or else you’ll start feeling light-headed, and your oxygen flow will decrease.

To breathe in a healthy manner, inhale with every two steps you take, and exhale for the other two steps. This is a common breathing pattern among walkers and runners, and some people prefer the 3:3 pattern.

In the 3:3 pattern, you inhale with every three steps instead of two and exhale the same. This one requires some training to maintain because it requires deeper breathing and better control of your steps.

walk half marathons

Walk Uphill

Try to inject some inclines in your training, but make sure they’re not too sharp. Choose a regular uphill surface, and you may train on your treadmill if it allows incline adjustment.

Try fast walking up the slope, then change your pace to moderate when walking down. Keep doing this as many times as you can, stopping at 15 times for each session. You can start with 7-8 times, then increase the number after finishing each week.

Use Your Treadmill

If you have a treadmill, it can be of great help for half marathons training. You can let it automatically adjust the interval speeds, so you don’t have to calculate time or count your steps.

Once you find the belt moving faster, you’ll merely move with it, so your training will be easier. Some treadmills even include built-in interval workouts. These allow you to adjust your desired duration, and the treadmill will keep altering its speed from moderate to fast as per the training.

Tips That’ll Help You Walk Half Marathons Like a Pro

Now that we’re done with training, how to start it, and how to assess your speed, let’s see tips for the actual half marathon.

Don’t Get Tricked by Your Weekly Volume

Many walkers would overestimate their abilities when they find high weekly volumes recorded on their pedometers. However, the only numbers that matter are the ones in training. Your pedometer, or your phone’s health app, calculates all your steps, even the ones you take when walking around the house or running errands.

Typically, neither your pace nor your steps will be the same when you’re training. So, you’ll think you’ve walked a lot, but you’re still not ready for the half marathon.

Make sure to only calculate the steps you took while training and build your pace according to those.

Follow Marathons’ Etiquette

It’s not cool to break the marathons’ etiquette. No one will kick you off the race track, but you’ll get some angry stares. Plus, adhering to the etiquette leaves a good impression on your fellow walkers, and it’s easy to follow the rules.

For starters, stay on the track’s right side at first-maybe for the first three miles. It’s the slow lane of American races, so you should stay by it during the beginning. After that, you can move to the left all you want.

On top of that, don’t attempt to stand at the front. This place typically goes for the runners, and walkers aren’t supposed to take it.

Lastly, try not to create walls with people walking around you. If you find yourself sided by other writers, creating a wall, try to move away because you’ll likely be slowing down the walkers behind you. Always leave the chance for racers around you to pass you; don’t try to win by keeping people behind.

Don’t Forget Foot Protection

Walking for three to four hours ought to give you some blisters, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you wear proper foot protection, your feet will likely get out of the race unscathed. You don’t want to have sore feet for a week after racing, so it’s better to go fully equipped.

Try to choose running shoes with cushioning. You may not need it while running, but it’s good for walking because it relieves the pressure off your feet. Because walking takes much more time, you’ll want to keep your feet comfortable for the longest time possible.

Hydration, or Else

You probably already know the side effects of dehydration, but let me remind you: headache, dizziness, fatigue, and dry skin. Not to mention, your stamina will be much less, and you won’t be able to keep up with the marathon.

Make sure to get enough water and snacks for the race. For a four-hour walk, you’ll definitely need to fuel up before you’re crossing the finish line. You can also check if the half marathon you’re joining provides water and snacks.

If it provides energy drinks or something like that, you should find out the brand and try it while training. That way, you’ll know what effects it has on your body and whether you’ll tolerate it.

Take a Walk Break When You Need It

If it’s your first or even second half marathon, you don’t need to be too tough on yourself. When you need a break on race day, take it. It’ll allow you to rest your diaphragm from taking deep breaths constantly, and you’ll give your muscles some time to breathe.

Remember, finishing the distance is already an awe-worthy achievement. You don’t need to kill yourself for it.

walk half marathons

The Takeaway

To walk half marathons is to challenge your muscles, your body, and your mind. When you cross the finishing line, the pain will go away after a few hours, but the glory and sense of achievement will stay forever.

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