If you’re wondering whether you can walk the half marathon instead of running, the simple answer is yes. Many runners whose goal is simply to cross the finish line—not to break a record—have achieved this feat.

While running would get you to the finish line faster, walking a half marathon can be a rewarding experience that allows you to take in the sights and enjoy the journey at your own pace.

If you want to take on the challenge, this guide provides essential tips and training advice for success.

How Long Does it Take to Walk a Half Marathon?

how long it takes to run

Completing a half marathon walk, which is about 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers, can take varying amounts of time depending on several factors like pace, fitness, terrain, and weather.

Typical walking paces range from 15 to 20 minutes per mile. Based on this range, your half marathon walking time can fall into any of these 3 categories:

However, some races have time limits, usually from 4 to 3.5 hours. Therefore, to finish your race within the cutoff (when applied), target a pace of around 12-16 minutes per mile.

Build a Mileage Base Before Training to Walk a Half Marathon

running a half marathon

When training for a half marathon, avoid increasing your distance or pace all at once, as this can prevent burnout and injuries that may affect your performance on race day. 

Building your mileage gradually allows your body to adapt to the demands of long-distance walking

Here are some tips for safely increasing mileage:

1. Start Slowly

Start with a distance you’re comfortable with, even if that’s just a couple of miles. The idea is consistency, not speed. For instance, if you’re new to walking over 5 miles, focus first on establishing a regular walking routine of 20-30 minutes, 3-4 days a week for at least 4-6 weeks.

You can gradually increase your weekly mileage by adding more minutes to each walk or increasing the number of days you walk each week.

2. Gradual Increase

Follow the 10% rule—don’t increase total weekly mileage by more than 10% over the previous week. This gradual approach helps prevent overuse injuries. 

For example, if you ran 20 miles this week, try not to exceed 22 miles the following week. This gradual approach helps prevent overuse injuries commonly experienced by beginners

Adding 1-3 miles per week is ideal before starting a dedicated half marathon training schedule. So ensure you have 8-12 weeks to safely build your base mileage.

3. Rest Days

Recovery is important when building your mileage base. It allows your muscles to rebuild and strengthen. Ensure you have 1-2 rest days per week to allow your body to recover.

4. Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to signs of excessive fatigue or discomfort and differentiate this from normal soreness. Ignoring these signs can lead to overtraining and injuries. If you experience pain, take a rest day or reduce your training intensity.

5. Cross-Train

Activities like strength training, swimming, or biking complement walking by building fitness without extra strain. This improves your overall fitness and strengthens supporting muscles.

How to Calculate Your Pace Before Walking a Half Marathon

Your pace is simply the number of minutes it takes you to cover a mile. Calculating it is simple—you just need distance and time data from any extended walk.

To calculate your pace, divide the total time it took you to walk a given distance by the distance itself. For example, if you walked 3 miles in 45 minutes, your pace would be 15 minutes per mile.

The formula looks like this:

Pace = Distance (in miles or kilometers)

Total Time (in minutes)

You can do this calculation manually or use one of the many online pace calculators or fitness apps that automatically compute your pace based on the data you input from your walks.

So why do need to know your pace? It can help you:

Training to Walk a Half Marathon

Walking a half marathon demands a training approach distinct from traditional running. Quality walking plans mix several elements, including:

The tables below outline a sample walking half marathon training plan for beginner, intermediate, and advanced walkers, including the various components above.

Beginner Walkers Training Plan (12 to 16 Weeks)

MondayRestAllow your body to recover
Tuesday2-mile walkFocus on a comfortable pace
WednesdayCross-training (30 minutes)Choose low-impact activities like swimming or yoga
Thursday2-mile walkMaintain a steady, comfortable pace
FridayRest or Gentle YogaActive recovery helps flexibility
Saturday3-mile long walkGradually increase your weekend long walk distance
SundayRest or Light ActivityLeisurely bike ride, a gentle stroll, etc.

Intermediate Walkers Training Plan (12 Weeks)

Monday3-mile walk with intervalsIntroduce speed intervals for improved pace
TuesdayCross-training or strengthFocus on activities that build overall fitness
Wednesday5-mile steady walkMaintain a consistent pace throughout
ThursdayRest or Light Cross-trainingActive recovery or a complete rest day
Friday4-mile walk with hill repeatsIncorporate hill work for strength
Saturday8-mile long walkIncrease your long walk distance gradually
SundayRest or Gentle Stretching/YogaFocus on recovery and flexibility

Advanced Walkers Training Plan (10-12 Weeks)

Monday4 miles with fast intervalsIncorporate speed work to improve your pace
TuesdayStrength training or high-intensity cross-trainingEnhance muscle strength and endurance
Wednesday6-mile tempo walkWalk at a challenging but sustainable pace
ThursdayRest or Active RecoverySwimming or another low-impact activity for recovery
Friday5 miles with hill workFocus on building strength with hill repeats
Saturday14-mile long walkGradually build up to your longest walk before tapering
SundayRest or Light Yoga/StretchingPrioritize recovery and flexibility after the long walk

The most important thing is to slowly increase your mileage and regularly follow your training plan each week based on your current fitness level.

Choosing the Right Walking Shoes 

running shoes

Having properly fitted, high-quality walking shoes are essential for success when training for a half marathon. The right shoes should:

When selecting shoes for walking a half marathon, look for ones specifically made for walking. Here are tips for selecting the right shoes:

1. Get Professionally Fitted

Visit a specialty running or walking store where experts can analyze your gait and recommend shoes that match your foot type and walking style.

2. Consider Your Arch Type

Know whether you have high arches, flat feet, or neutral arches, as this will influence the type of support you need.

3. Look for Proper Cushioning

Shoes should have adequate cushioning in the midsole to absorb impact, particularly under the ball of the foot.

4. Ensure a Comfortable Fit

There should be about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe to accommodate foot swelling during long walks.

5. Check the Flexibility

The shoe should bend easily at the ball of the foot but remain relatively firm to provide stability.

6. Opt for Breathable Materials

Shoes made from breathable materials keep your feet cooler and reduce the risk of blisters.

7. Consider the Weight

Lightweight shoes can reduce fatigue over long distances, but they should still offer sufficient support and cushioning.

8. Test on Various Surfaces

If possible, try walking on different surfaces (carpet, treadmill, concrete) to gauge comfort and traction.

9. Wear Appropriate Socks

Try on shoes with the socks you plan to wear during your walks to ensure a true fit.

10. Break Them in Gradually

Start wearing your new walking shoes on shorter walks, gradually increasing the distance to break them in without causing discomfort.

Hydration and Nutrition during Longer Walks


Staying properly hydrated and fueled is vital when you’ll be on your feet for hours walking a half marathon. Dehydration and nutritional deficiencies can quickly lead to fatigue, cramps, and subpar performance. 

Follow these tips to ensure proper hydration and nutrition:

Proper hydration and well-timed fueling give you the energy you need to complete your long training walks strong. However, ensure to test different hydration packs, belts, or handhelds during training to find what works best for you.

Pay attention before, during, and after longer walks to learn what helps you feel energized and motivated versus sluggish. Tailor your own on-the-go walking nutrition plan so you don’t hit that figurative “wall” at mile 10 of the half marathon. 

Common Do’s and Don’ts When Training for a Half Marathon Walk

Here are some key do’s and don’ts to remember when training for and completing a half marathon walk:


  1. Build up mileage gradually over 12+ weeks
  2. Focus on sustaining an even, comfortable pace
  3. Stay hydrated and fuel consistently, especially on longer walks
  4. Listen to your body and take rest days whenever needed 
  5. Break in walking shoes well in advance to identify any fit issues
  6. Use a foam roller, and massage gun, and stretch regularly to aid recovery 


  1. Increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week
  2. Try to maintain a running pace, and walk at a sustainable speed
  3. Forget to take walk breaks and hydration during the race
  4. Push through pain without evaluating potential injuries
  5. Eat heavy meals minutes before your walk
  6. Attempt long distances without proper walking shoes 
  7. Neglect strength training and cross-training

Final Thoughts

Completing a half marathon, whether running or walking, is an impressive athletic achievement. With smart preparation and training, walking 13.1 miles is achievable for most people. Follow the tips in this guide to build your endurance, perfect your walking form and pacing, and choose the right gear. Committing to a plan and putting in the time with long walks, strength training, and rest will have you ready to go the distance.

Ready to take on the challenge? Sign up for the OC Marathon 2024 running festival, happening on May 5th! This event is the perfect opportunity to turn your half-marathon walking goals into reality. 

Crossing that finish line after hours of effort will be an unforgettable feeling!