Is It Okay To Run/Walk Your First Half Marathon?


If you’re considering signing up for your first half-marathon, you may be trying to figure out the logistics of the race, especially if you’re new to running longer distances, such as the 13.1 miles required for a half marathon. You may be wondering if you can walk parts of your race as needed.

The short answer is yes, of course. However, there are some details and specific race rules that you may want to look into before deciding if running and walking your first half marathon is the right choice for you.

Are You Allowed to Walk During a Running Race?

With most running races out there, the rules surrounding walking aren’t strict. It’s common for most runners to take a walking break at some point, whether it be for a drink of water, snack, or to get up a steeper climb in the racecourse.

Walking during a race most certainly does not disqualify you from participating in it. However, some races do have cut off times included- so you will have to calculate your pace with a running and walking strategy to make sure you have enough time to make the allotted times.

Why You Might Consider Running and Walking a Half Marathon

There are a few primary benefits to walking a race that you can consider. If you aren’t sure you can run an entire race, that doesn’t necessarily need to deter you from signing up. Walking can be a great supplement to running to keep you motivated and moving when your muscles are tired.

Tuning in to your body and taking time to walk when you need it can also help prevent unnecessary injury, since it’s never smart to push through joint pain or extreme muscle fatigue. Finally, you can preserve your energy during a race since walking requires fat burning more than carb burning like a faster running pace does. Ultimately, tapping into your fat reserves can prevent burnout and exhaustion so that you can finish your race strong.

On the other hand, there are a few minor drawbacks to the running and walking combination for your half marathon. Taking frequent walking breaks can affect your overall race time, which can be frustrating if you have a particular goal in mind. Plus, it can unnecessarily prolong your race effort. Finally, it can also lead to a loss of motivation to finish your race if you take too much time walking. What’s most important is finishing the race and deciding whether walking will help or hinder that goal.

Factors to Consider with Your First Half Marathon

Deciding to participate in your first half marathon is an amazing feat. Now, it’s time to think about your plan going into race day. This will help you decide if running and walking is a good option for you or not.

Keep in mind that your training may require running and walking on a treadmill depending on the time of year.

Come Up With A Running/Walking Training Strategy

One of the most common strategies to train for a running/walking half marathon is to follow designated interval ratios. Plan to run/walk three times per week at about a ratio of 4:2, adjusting for your fitness level as needed (you can always get started with a lower interval like 3:1 as a beginner).

Typically, allow yourself at least 12 weeks to train and allow your body time to adjust to this running strategy. If you’re not sure how to prepare for your race, thankfully, there are tons of great resources out there to research and decide what’s best.

Keep in mind that your training may require running and walking on a treadmill depending on the time of year.

Considering Shorter Race Distances

Suppose you’re feeling unsure of your ability to complete a half-marathon due to concerns about motivation, time to train, or injury. In that case, it’s okay to consider starting at a shorter race distance. Many races offer 10k and 5k options first to get your body ready for race modes. From there, you can gradually build to your half marathon goal over time. Alternatively, you might find a race date that better suits your training needs.

Choose What Feels Right for You

There is no right or wrong answer regarding your training and race day strategy for a half-marathon. Ultimately, you should choose an option that helps you feel confident going into your first half marathon. From there, the logistics of selecting the right training program, pace, and terrain leading up to your race will be easier to figure out.

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