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Improve your marathon time by walking

Updated on June 14, 2007

Whether it is your first marathon or your tenth, most of us can get a little faster, by...WALKING. I know, many of you are skeptical... so was I, until on marathon #6 I tried it and took 23 minutes off my best time. Let's do the math first and then we can set up a plan to improve your marathon time by adding some walking.

The Math:

Ok, so here is how it works, by the end of the marathon most of us slow down, we slow from our 8 or 9 minute pace to a 10 min, 11 min, 12 min (I even found myself running a 13 minute pace once) But, if you walk for a brief moment (which allows your body to save some energy and regain strength) and than allow yourself to run at your 8 or 9 minute pace again you will actually take minutes off your race time.

Research has found that a 20 second to 40 second walking period and than father running allows you to save more energy on long runs that running consistently slow. I will admit it was hard to "get started" again after walking, but this method worked and took a good bit of time off my finish. Below some times are broken down to show you how it works.

Only Running:

Mile 1-13 I run a 9 min pace

Mile 14-17 I begin to slow and run a 10 min pace

Mile 18-21 Getting really hard for me, I run a 12 minute pace

Mile 22-23 By far the hardest part for me, I run a 13 minute pace

Mile 24-26 I find some energy and pick it up, but still pretty slow, 12 min pace

This is a total time of: 4 hours and 27 min


Mile 1-13 I run a 9 min pace, no walking

Mile 14-17 I run a 9 min pace, I walk for 15 seconds at each mile mark

Mile 18-21 I run a 9 min pace, I walk for 20 seconds at each mile mark

Mile 22-23 I run a 9 min pace, I walk for 40 seconds at each mile mark

Mile 24-26 I run a 9 min pace, I walk for 30 seconds at each mile mark

This is a total time of: 4 hours flat!

A Plan to Make You Faster:

For each of us running is different, our "walls" come at different places, as seen from above I normally find walls at mile 14, mile 18, and mile 22. Map out the marathon for yourself, pick where the running starts to get hard, where it gets even harder, and where it gets the hardest, and at those point add a bit of walking in. Try to keep the walking between 20-40 seconds, and when you begin running again pick up the pace- because remember in just a mile you get to walk again!


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    AB 9 years ago

    If you cannot sustain 9 minute miles for the whole marathon you should not be starting at that speed in the first place. Starting too fast leads to burn out in the later miles. Instead of walking, set a pace that is sustainable over the whole distance and stick to it even from mile one. That and be prepared to de a lot of training! It's about the training you put in and being realistic with pacing - not walking!

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    Fuzz 9 years ago

    I like the idea and believe it would work. I think AB's idea is doable, but I think there are various systems used when running a long distance. Walking gives both some psychological and physical recovery during the run, though. I wonder, why wait until half way through the run to start walking some?

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