Whether you are looking to run your first marathon, or your 50th, you may be wondering how many steps you’ll take during the entire race. While several factors can determine the total number of steps, we can create an educated guess that can offer you a ballpark figure.
This question is one that many runners have asked; especially if they are counting steps and calories to make sure they are fueling their bodies properly for race day. While losing weight is typically about burning more calories than you consume, that should not be the focus for marathon runners. They need sufficient caloric intake to fuel their bodies for the arduous 26.2 miles ahead.
The Quick Answer…
The average stride for a male runner is about 30 inches. That would put the average number of steps in a marathon at 55,374 steps. Female runners have an average stride of 26.5 inches. That would put the average number of steps in a marathon at 62,926 steps. If you combine both numbers, then you get an average of 59,150 steps.
How to Calculate Your Steps in a Marathon
In order to get a more specific number, you will have to consider the gender, speed, and stride length of the runner. For instance, the longer the stride, the smaller the number of steps. Since male runners tend to have a longer stride, they will require fewer steps to complete a marathon.
If someone runs at a faster pace, with an intentionally smaller stride, then they may complete the marathon faster. However, they will also require more steps to complete the race.
Running Versus Walking a Marathon (It Happens!)
In most cases, you are likely to run a marathon. Hence, the above number is based on the number of running steps. However, you may be wondering how many steps are required to walk the length of a marathon.
Say you grow tired? Or a marathon is on your “bucket list”… and completing it matters more than an impressive time. There is no shame in that.
The fact is that the average walking stride and the average running stride are approximately the same. Therefore, if you choose to walk a marathon rather than run, then you can expect to walk the same amount of steps.
Things that can Impact the Number of Steps in a Marathon
If you have experience running marathons, then you already know that you can increase your speed by shortening your stride. Therefore, if you are looking to lower your time, then you will need to increase the number of your steps.
Therefore, it is not out of the realm of possibility for an elite male runner to complete over 60,000 steps for male runners and over 65,000 steps for female runners.
Chances are that you may be running marathons in different types of weather. Because you will want to keep your body cooler in warmer weather, your body may be compelled to extend its stride. This could slightly lower the number of overall steps.
Also, you may want to consider that bundling up in the winter may cause you to decrease your stride. However, there is no real evidence that weather is a major factor that can affect the number of steps in a marathon.
Why Measure the Number of Steps in a Marathon?
When training for a marathon, you are going to be obsessed with your overall time and your splits. However, measuring your number of steps can also be valuable for you. If you can consciously increase your number of steps per minute, then you are likely able to increase your speed. Therefore, you should consider measuring your steps as well as your overall speed and time.
If you are looking to improve your marathon time, then you will want to work on shortening your stride and completing more steps. However, it is more important for you to run at a comfortable pace and push yourself when you feel that it is safe to do so.
Is There Any Danger to Increasing Your Number of Steps in a Marathon?
You must run in a way that is most comfortable for you. Increasing the number of steps per minute can cause you to greatly change your form, which can impact your overall running style. Therefore, it is important that you gradually change your running style to ensure a safer marathon performance.
Tools to Measure the Number of Steps in a Marathon?
If you would like to measure the number of steps when training or running a marathon, you have a number of options. You can:
Final Thoughts on Measuring Steps in a Marathon
Here’s the bottom line… if you want to know how many steps in a marathon, you’ll need to consider your gender, side length, and pace. No two people are the same.
As a general rule, increasing your number of steps may help increase your speed and shorten your overall finish time. You just need to remember to ease into it, and make gradual changes to your form, in order to avoid injury.
If you are a new runner, and a 5K seems more your speed these days, be sure to check out our helpful start running guide. Keeping yourself injury-free and building up endurance and stamina are keys for those longer runs.