How Long Is A Marathon



Modified: 07 Jun 2022

runners in a marathon

People who love to exercise often wonder how long is a marathon. You probably spotted a few promotions about marathons that have various options for beginners and experienced runners. If you hope to join one, you simply have to follow an effective training regimen. Don’t let your hopes go down if the time it takes to finish a marathon sounds intimidating. Trust us when we say that going through that finish line gives out one of the best feelings in the world.

You don’t have to be an athlete or an experienced runner to join a marathon. Just stick to a plan and you’re all set. And, don’t lose your motivation if you can’t find a great training plan. We can help you come up with one after you learned the basics.

How Long is a Marathon Anyway?

Finish line, how long is a marathon
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Familiarize yourself with how long is a marathon before starting the training plan you want. The official length of a marathon stretches to a whopping 26.2 miles. Competitions like the Olympics began following the fixed length for a marathon during its establishment in the 20th century.

During the Ancient Olympics, contenders did not compete in long-distance foot races. However, the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece included the marathon in its events. Organizers came up with the foot race to honor the memory of a hardworking ancient Greek messenger. He ran a distance of about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, to deliver important news to Athens. After finally informing the Greeks of their victory against the Persians in 490 B.C., the messenger passed away from exhaustion.

Watching a whole marathon on television may bore you into changing the channel. Because an official covers a distance of 26.2 miles, the finishing time of all contenders lasts for about 2-8 hours. The total average of reaching the finishing line falls around 4-5 hours. You can learn how to plan your speed or pace as you read on.

5K in Miles Comes Out Shorter Than it Seems

Marathon training, how long is a marathon
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Once you start running, joining a marathon usually holds a place in your to-do list. If you just started to develop a love for running, you can enhance your skills by joining the 5K run option in a marathon event. With this, you can further train yourself into accomplishing long-distance runs.

Signing up for a 5K run in a marathon means you’re willing to run for 3.1 miles. This distance matches with most beginners because it helps strengthen their stamina and strength. Aside from being the easiest distance to find, a 5k foot race aids in highlighting the results of one’s training regimen. The distance covers enough pace time to test out a runner’s agility too.

You usually find posters about your neighborhood foot races during the summer, spring, or fall seasons. Most local marathons only hold a 5K run event to attract people into joining. Being a part of one usually brings a sense of fulfillment because people organize set up these events to raise funds for a good cause. Because of this, you get to accomplish two great things by joining a local marathon near you. Win or lose, you helped a charity while training to be a better runner.

Now, when you start the 5K run, don’t be afraid of going head-to-head against experienced athletes. As a beginner, it takes time before you can reach the finish line with a fast time. One of the unspoken rules between runners in 5 km races includes reaching the end under 25 minutes. To accomplish that, you must learn to pace yourself around 8 minutes for every mile you cover.

Find Out the Value of 10K in Miles to Push Yourself

While searching for how long is a marathon, you probably noticed promotions of 10K runs. 10K in miles equals 6.2 miles, double of the 5K run we mentioned earlier. You can sign up for a 10K marathon once you reached your goal in the 5K option.  However, you might be surprised to see a longer list of participants than before. The 6.2 miles long race gained popularity among both rookie and experienced runners. The distance challenges or enhances the skills you picked up while training.

Due to the world’s current state, you might find some virtual marathons held online. Instead of cheating your finish times, stay honest in tallying your pace to see what you need to improve for the next runs. Plus, adding about 30 seconds or more to your time can help you prepare for runs in different terrains.

For first-time 10K runners, you should follow training plans that help you pace yourself faster. Afterward, follow schedules that boost or strengthen the stamina you built up while training for the 5K race. Remember to mind your body’s limit whenever you train to keep yourself from draining your strength. And, avoid burning yourself out by setting an impossible goal like finishing a mile in under 6 minutes. If you accomplished your goal for the 10K run, you can then train yourself for longer-distance runs before joining a full official marathon.

Make Your Own Marathon Training Plan

You can easily find different kinds of marathon training plans online. Before you jump into any schedules or regimens, you must keep in mind different facts of the environment you’ll train in. Every training plan requires you to dedicate several hours of your time to complete your goal. It may sound overwhelming but, committing your time comes with a great sense of fulfillment in the end.

The various environmental facts in your area affect your performance in training for any kind of marathon. You also have to consider the atmosphere of the place where the race takes place. Remember to consider the people, terrain, or temperatures you might encounter before or after the run. Take note of these factors before you come up with the best training schedule.

After coming up with a decent training plan, you must incorporate the meals that help boost your running into your daily life leading to the race. Marathons with longer distances require you to consume the calories that you burned during training. However, you must also mind the food intake that your body knows of before you stuff yourself with too much food.

Lastly, always remember to keep yourself hydrated throughout your training or during the race itself. Aside from slowing your time, being dehydrated decreases the stamina you worked hard to improve. Plus, incorporating the liquids you need to consume can help your body adjust to the climate during the race. Once you determined all these factors, you can look up an online pace calculator to help you in monitoring your times.

Create or Use a Marathon Pace Chart

Relay Runner
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Now that you know how long is a marathon, it’s time to compose your pace chart. Using the pace calculator we mentioned, you can as one of your loved ones to not down your times during training. With this, you can predict your paces in the coming days especially during the day of the marathon you joined.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t meet your goal. As we mentioned, even the most experienced runners faced a few bumps before they accomplished their fast finishes. You can also take your time by dedicating a regimen to a scheduled marathon that occurs after several months from the sign-up date. This then gives you enough time to adjust your body to train without stressing yourself out.

When it comes to jotting down your marathon pace chart, you can use several online guides or predictions to monitor your progress. These tools show or highlight what you lacked or excelled in each lap. Plus, keeping track of your finish times help you determine what you need to focus on as your training progresses.

If you participated in different marathons before, you can use the times to improve your skills for the next foot race. To achieve more accurate predictions, sign up for races every 4-6 weeks. This gives you enough time for training or monitoring your pace chart and predictions. You can also take note of the finishing times of your usual opponents to keep you motivated in facing them in the next marathon.

While looking for monthly marathons, some beginners might fund difficulty in signing up for races without short-distance options. If you encounter the same problem, don’t be afraid of joining long-distance marathons despite your lack of experience. Joining a variety of races every 4-6 weeks tests the skills you picked up from your training plan. Plus, taking part in marathons with different terrains or additional sports challenges what you have accomplished so far.

Let Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele Inspire You

Kipchoge at the Berlin Marathon
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Most experienced runners usually name Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele as two of the best marathoners of all time. Both athletes broke various records during their respective times in official marathons and the Olympics. Their inspiring journey might boost your confidence in competing in various runs no matter what age you’re in.

Eliud Kipchoge represented Kenya as an accomplished runner before joining competitive marathons. He went on to compete in the Olympics after claiming the world champion title in the 5K run in 2003. Throughout Kipchoge’s career, the Kenyan runner took different levels on the Olympics podium following his success in Athens and Beijing. Unfortunately, things took a toll for the worst when Kipchoge suffered a hamstring injury while preparing for the 2012 London Olympics.

Unbeknownst to many, Eliud Kipchoge started to compete in marathons after failing to compete in the London Summer Olympics in 2012. After winning 11 marathons, Kipchoge proceeded to bag a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Currently, the Kenyan athlete trains in a remote town located 8 km above sea level to enhance his strengths in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Before Kipchoge’s impressive feats, Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekele started setting records since his 3km run in 2001. He reached his first senior long-distance win at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin. There, he gained fame as the first man to place first in both short and long-distance races. Because of his impressive stamina, Bekele managed to keep his titles for the next two years. This made winning the gold in the 10,000m run in the 2004 Athens Olympics seem like a piece of cake.

Because of the two athletes’ impressive feats, many fans speculate who can outshine the other in a London marathon. Fans of both runners continuously debate on the outcome of a race between Bekele and Kipchoge. You might have a different opinion altogether but, we can’t help but imagine how epic the London marathon would be with the two seasoned Olympic runners.

Witness the Determination of Athletes Competing in the Olympics Marathon

Olympic Rings
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Like us, you probably felt intimidated when you learned how long is a marathon in the Olympic games. In the 1896 Olympics, experienced runners took the opportunity to complete a run that stretched over 40 km. A few of the next Olympics that followed shortened the marathon to around 25 miles. However, the marathon in the 1908 London Olympics extended to a length of more than 26.2 miles. This long-distance race contributed to the current standard of the beloved marathon.

Nowadays, you can easily join marathons spanning various areas around the globe. Some get organized amid the shocking cold temperature of the North Pole or the vast distance of the Great Wall of China. In the USA, runners can sign up for more than 1,000 marathons every year. Plus, women don’t need to worry about male-only marathons since the launch of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics that held an all-female marathon.

Due to the constant rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the location of the marathon of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics sparked debates among fans of the famous games. Organizers postponed the Summer Olympics to 2021 while retaining its title of 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In the original plans for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic (IOC) committee collaborated with the Japan organizers to set up a long-looped marathon course in Sapporo, Japan. They finalized the location after attempting to predict the temperatures during the events. However, a possible change of venue is yet to be announced due to the rescheduling of the Olympic Games. Until then, you can opt to study the impressive world record-breaking marathon finishes in the Olympics or other official marathons by checking them out online or on YouTube.