How Many Miles is a Marathon? The Must Know Details

Are you asking, “how many miles is a marathon?If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Marathon running is an incredible experience. The feeling of crossing the finish line after pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits is hard to put into words.

I’ve run 12 marathons and qualified for the Marathon Maniacs by running three marathons within 90 days. In 2018, I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon and, six days later, the Charleston Marathon.

From someone who despised running in high school, long-distance running on your own terms can really be life-changing. Now let’s answer all your important questions about the marathon.

How Far is a Marathon?

A marathon is considered the longest commonly run long-distance race.

Depending on where you’re from, you might be inquiring about the distance in miles or kilometers. So let’s get to it!

Marathon Distance in Miles

If you live in a country like the United States (me!), you’ll likely want to know this race distance in miles.

The marathon is 26.2 miles. That is 26 miles and 385 yards (to be exact).

If you’ve run a half marathon, you probably know the distance is 13.1 miles – exactly half of a marathon. Go figure!

Marathon Distance in Kilometers

If you live outside the US, you might ask how far a marathon is in kilometers.

A marathon is 42.2 kilometers.

If you’ve run a half marathon, you probably know it’s approximately 21.1 kilometers. Again, exactly half of the 42.2 kilometers of a marathon.

I'm running the Walt Disney World Marathon on my birthday in 2018.

Why is the Marathon 26.2 Miles?

The marathon has, in a way, been around since 490 BC.

The story goes that a Greek messenger named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens, Greece, to announce a victory in the Battle of Marathon. After his announcement, he collapsed and died of exhaustion.

Though the story’s truth is highly debated, and the distance and name of the man who ran vary from one claim to the next, we know it led to one of the most incredible running events known today.

When the Olympic games began in 1896, organizers set the marathon at 25 miles or 40 kilometers. This event was used because of the ancient Greek story of Pheidippides; thus, the Olympic marathon began.

The 1908 London Olympics marked the first time the standard 26.2-mile distance was used.

The marathon took runners from Windsor Castle to the White City Stadium, where runners completed one lap around the track, finishing in front of the Royal Box. The marathon generally ends in the Olympic Stadium at the modern-day Olympics.

Since that London race over 100 years ago, this distance has become the go-to for all marathons worldwide.

How to Train for a Marathon

Now that you know how far a marathon is, let’s talk about how to prepare for it.

Tips for Marathon Training

Marathon training takes dedication and perseverance – but nothing good ever comes easy! Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Gradually increase your weekly mileage

As you get closer to the race date, your mileage should increase incrementally. Don’t get ahead of yourself and push too far too fast. This is a way you’ll end up injured and sidelined from your race.

2. Stick to your training plan

You know how they say failing to plan is planning to fail? This rings especially true with marathon training!

You won’t get far without a solid training plan – or if you don’t stick to it. Make sure you map out each week and hit all the mileage, speed work, hill runs, and rest days.

3. Cross-training is necessary

Running is an incredible exercise, but there are other things you should do when training for a marathon.

Strength work, swimming, yoga, and other forms of cardio are all cross-training activities that can improve your performance significantly.

This will build a strong foundation in your body to get you to the finish line on race day.

4. Fuel your body well with food and hydration

Fueling your body is vital in helping you stay energized and recover quickly.

Be sure you’re eating an array of whole foods while training, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Treating your body well will allow you to train for the marathon with a better outcome.

5. Get adequate rest

Your body needs rest and recovery to perform at its best.

Be sure you’re getting enough sleep each night (at least 7-8 hours, depending on your needs) and taking rest days so your body can repair itself and prepare for the next round of training.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful marathon race day, whether it’s your first or fiftieth marathon!

Marathon Training Plan

If you’re a beginner, you might not know where to begin training for a marathon.

It’s always best to check with your doctor first to confirm that running a distance like this suits your health. Once cleared by your doctor, you’ll need a good training plan to abide by for several months.

It’s important to note that hiring a qualified running coach is the best option. You can trust this person to help you improve and meet your goals successfully and safely.

A professional coach isn’t in the budget for everyone, and that’s okay.

This is an option for a beginner’s marathon training plan. This is just a starting point, and as your needs require, you can adapt and change the plan.

Beginner's marathon training plan for 18 weeks.
Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Remember that walking or using the run/walk method is a great way to complete your training and marathon. The run/walk method can help you run longer as you gain strength and endurance.

What’s the Best Marathon?

What one person deems the best marathon may differ from the next runner.

However, the Boston Marathon is the top contender when considering the best marathon in the world.

To run the Boston Marathon, you must qualify by reaching a specific time in a previous marathon. Boston qualifiers have to sustain a quick mile pace to make the cut.

Using the 2023 Boston Marathon qualifying times, a male runner between the ages of 35 and 39 must finish the marathon distance in three hours and five minutes or less.

If you don’t achieve your specified qualifying time, you can still join the Boston Marathon by raising money for an official charity.

The running world is full of marathons, so if Boston isn’t your cup of tea, know there’s likely another option for you. You may want to run one of the best marathons in the US or travel abroad to cover your miles.

Why You Should Run a Marathon

If you’re looking for a challenge, there’s no better way to push yourself than running a marathon.

With proper training and preparation, crossing the finish line of your first marathon is incredibly satisfying.

Besides the obvious physical benefits of running a marathon, like improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and weight loss, running can also help improve your mental health.

Whether it’s a sense of accomplishment or the endocannabinoids (feel-good biochemical substance) released from running, there’s no denying how great it feels to complete a long-distance run.

The journey toward your first marathon may be full of obstacles and struggles, but conquering them builds confidence that you can do hard things. It teaches you to stay focused and push yourself further than you ever thought possible.

Plus, running a marathon can be rewarding in other ways. It can bring people together and create meaningful relationships with others while building a community around the sport.

No matter how hard it is, we guarantee that you’ll be a new and better version of yourself when you cross the finish line of your first marathon.

I'm nearing the finish line of the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Before I ran my first half marathon in 2013, I wondered, "how many miles is a marathon?" Now, I've completed 12!


How Long Does it Take to Run 26 Miles?

The average finish time for a marathon is 4 hours, 26 minutes, and 33 seconds. However, how long it takes you to run the 26.2 miles will depend on your running pace, fitness level, and how much training you put in beforehand.
You may have a race time of up to 6 or 7 hours if you’re a beginner. Be aware of course time limits if you tend to run slower.

How Many Miles is a Half Marathon?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles. It’s a great distance to challenge yourself and still be able to run the entire race without needing much help or support. This can be an excellent option for those seeking a more manageable race distance over the marathon.

How Many Miles is an Ultra Marathon?

An ultra marathon is any race distance beyond 26.2 miles. Some popular ultra marathon distances are around 31 miles (50k) or even 100 miles! There are many options for trail running ultra marathons if that interests you.

How Many Miles is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon?

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series marathons are all 26.2 miles, the standard marathon race length for all runners worldwide. If you’re running in any of their races worldwide, you’ll still be covering the same number of miles as every other runner in each race!

What is a 5k in Miles?

A 5k is 3.1 miles.
A 5k (or 5 kilometers) race is a fun and popular distance to test your running abilities. It’s also a great way to get into racing if you’re new to running, as it requires less training than longer distances like marathons or half-marathon.

How Many Miles is a Full Marathon?

A full marathon is 26.2 miles.
This distance requires proper training, nutrition, and motivation to complete successfully. Marathon runners must build up their mileage gradually over time to ensure they can run the entire race without getting injured or hitting a wall they can’t come back from in the middle of the course.

I'm running my first marathon in December 2014, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. Before running, I didn't know the answer to the question, "how many miles is a marathon?" After this day, I became a marathoner for life.

Final Thoughts: How Many Miles is a Marathon?

Running a marathon is a unique challenge and requires hard work and dedication, but the reward of crossing that finish line makes it all worth it!

Marathon running teaches you to push through boundaries and keep moving forward when things get tough. It’s an incredible achievement you can be proud of for the rest of your life.

If you’re looking for an effective way to challenge yourself, look no further – a marathon is a perfect choice. So grab your running shoes and get ready to go the distance! You can confidently complete your first marathon with the proper training and perseverance.

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