How Long Is a Marathon? Half and Full – In Miles and KM

How long is a marathon? How long is a half marathon? Marathons and half marathons are the most popular long-distance running races. Despite their popularity, many aren’t aware of how long they really are. In this article, I’ll describe how long a marathon is in miles and km – for full and half marathons.

How long is a marathon in miles? A full marathon in miles is 26.2 miles (26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact).

How long is a marathon in km? A full marathon in km is 42.2 km (42.195 km to be exact).

How long is a half marathon in miles? A half marathon in miles is 13.1 miles.

How long is a half marathon in km? A half marathon in km is 21.2 km.

In 1921, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standardized marathon races at a length of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). 

The federation did not cite specific reasons for how they decided on the length. There were several speculations of Queen Alexandra influencing the marathon’s distance, but this remains unconfirmed.

Read on to learn more about the length of a marathon, the history of the marathon, and how to train for one.

How Long Is a Marathon in Miles and KM? How Long Is a Half Marathon?

The IAAF established the marathon-length only in 1921. Before that, there was no standardized length.

The term “marathon” comes from a Greek legend. A Greek messenger raced to Athens from the Greek town “Marathon” to report the Greek’s victory against the Persian’s invading army. This story is the inspiration for the marathon race. 

According to the legend, the messenger ran 40 kilometers (24.86 miles), announced the news, collapsed, and then died. 

To commemorate this historic event, the organizers agreed to make the length of the marathon race the same at 40 kilometers (24.86 miles).

Marathon races started in Athens in 1896, the start of the modern era, with a length of 40 kilometers (24.86 miles).

Racers have observed this marathon-length until 1908. As the story goes, Queen Alexandra requested that the marathon race passes by the Royal Nursery in Windsor before proceeding to the Olympic Stadium. The queen wanted the little royals to watch the race from their windows.

The distance traveling this new route was 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). The organizers had no option but to oblige the request of the queen. 

From then on, the marathon’s length stayed at 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles).

The length for a full marathon and a half marathon in miles and km is as follows:

A full marathon in miles is 26.2 miles (26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact).

A full marathon in km is 42.2 km (42.195 km to be exact).

A half marathon in miles is 13.1 miles.

A half marathon in km is 21.2 km.

The marathon was an all-male race until 1972, when the Boston Marathon accepted female competitors.

Some of the U.S. annual marathons are the: Boston Marathon, Portland Marathon, Los Angeles Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

You maybe are planning to run a marathon if you have trained enough. If so, follow the training tips below so that you can make it the full distance.

How to Train for a Marathon or Half Marathon?

If you’re a marathon beginner, you have to learn the basic training rules first. You don’t run a marathon or half marathon without training properly, or you will injure yourself in the process. Athletes train long and hard before attempting to enter these races.

You may be in it for fun, but you still have to prepare yourself physically. To train your body to be able to run the full marathon that is 42.2 km (26.2 miles) or half marathon that is 21.1 km (13.1 miles), follow the below tips:

  1. Walk briskly 30 minutes twice a week.
  2. Run 30 minutes twice a week. Remember to have a regular pace, not so fast or too slow. Most beginners finish the marathon around four to five hours, clocking 9-12 minutes/mile.
  3. Take regular walk-breaks every chance you get.
  4. Schedule regular rest days to rejuvenate yourself.
  5. Develop and maintain your flexibility by stretching every day
  6. Increase the frequency of your walks and runs to five times per week. Do it gradually to allow your body to adjust healthily.
  7. Take longer runs from 40 minutes to one hour three times a week, 
  8. Afterward, you can attempt the long run, every seven days, when your body gets accustomed to your physical activities.
  9. Eat food rich in calcium and vitamins such as D, C, and iron. These foods will help strengthen your bones and prepare you for the long haul running.
how long is a half marathon

How to Run a Marathon Safely

1. Consult Your Doctor First Before Joining a Marathon

You may have a heart or lung ailment where running is to be avoided. If so, running a marathon or half marathon could increase your risk of a heart attack or other complications. Your health should be your top priority.

2. Prepare Yourself Adequately

Train yourself properly by following the steps described above. Don’t join a marathon without preparing yourself physically. It’s like going to battle without your sword and shield. Prepare yourself well, and you will succeed in your endeavor.

  1. Warm-up before runs and cool down after runs. Perform at least 10-15 minutes of stretching – stretching all your joints and flexor muscles.
  1. Add dynamic exercises to your warm-up stretches, such as leg swings, straight leg kicks, side shuffles, and power skips.

3. Wear the Proper Gear

Proper gear would include a pair of comfortable shoes. Choose reputable brands, such as Asics, Nike, or Brooks. However, the most crucial aspect is that you feel comfortable wearing it. The shoes should provide a soft interior, but they should also have enough toughness on the soles to help absorb your foot’s impact as it strikes the ground. 

You can try using insoles and find out if they provide more comfort. You may want to try all brands to determine which one suits you the best. What’s good for one person may not be suitable for you. You should also replace your shoes every 500 miles of running.

Your running outfit should be not too tight or too loose, capable of offering comfort even after wearing it all day. Your clothes must provide adequate ventilation and eliminate sweat while providing a cool interior.

4. Hydrate Yourself Adequately

Drink enough liquid to replenish the water you lose through sweating. Opt for the Gatorade on the first aid stops. You can drink 6-10 ounces of fluid every two to three miles of the run.

Water is good, but sweating will cause you to lose vital electrolytes, so you need to replenish them through Gatorade and other electrolyte-rich drinks.

5. Prevent the Following Common Injuries from Occurring

How long is a full marathon? A full marathon is 42.2 km (26.2 miles). How long is half a marathon? A half marathon is 21.1 km (13.1 miles). This is not a short distance, and common injuries do happen to many runners. Below are common injuries to watch out for and how to prevent them.

Ankle Sprains

Wear supportive marathon shoes and find out about the terrain beforehand. Avoid portholes or rocky spots that could twist your ankle or cause an imbalance in your stride. If this injury occurs, rest and physical therapy is needed until the swelling subsides.

Muscle Tear or Strains

Do your warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after the marathon. While running, use proper running techniques, as described below. This injury usually involves your hamstrings and calf.

Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis

These are injuries of the tendon and the heels. To prevent these injuries, you should wear the correct footwear for your marathon and properly do your warm-ups. If these injuries happen, you can rest and apply an ice compress on your heels or legs.

Elevate your leg to decrease the blood pressure on your heels. If the pain is unbearable, you can use anti-inflammatory pain killers or consult your doctor.

Stress Fractures

You subject your bone to pressure that could cause tiny cracks. You can prevent this injury by using the proper marathon shoes. Strengthen your bones by eating calcium and vitamin-rich foods (milk, vegetables, and fruits.) 

This condition can become severe as the crack can result in a full-blown fracture that needs surgery. So, if you experience acute pain in your foot, take a rest, and consult the nearest health facility.

Shin Splints

You can feel stabbing sensations in your shins when you have injured the tendons and muscles covering your tibia through improper footwear and sudden changes in your running terrain. 

To prevent this, you may want to wear insoles and avoid ascending terrains. If this injury occurs, use an ice compress to reduce the inflammation and take anti-inflammatory pain relievers. If pain persists, you have to consult your doctor for further management.

Foot Blisters

This injury occurs when your running shoes are not comfortable. Choose the best footwear, and remember to wear a pair of comfy socks too. If blisters form while you’re running, you can have some handy Band-Aid to reduce the pain. But after the marathon, you can soak your feet in lukewarm water to reduce pain and hasten to heal, and then in ice-cold water to reduce inflammation.

Remember, marathons are no small distance. You have to train properly to ensure your body will be strong enough to last the distance.

It is helpful to have a watch that can track your distance. As a recap, here is how long a marathon is:

How long is a marathon in miles? A full marathon in miles is 26.2 miles (26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact).

How long is a marathon in km? A full marathon in km is 42.2 km (42.195 km to be exact).

How long is a half marathon in miles? A half marathon in miles is 13.1 miles.

How long is a half marathon in km? A half marathon in km is 21.2 km.

how long is a marathon in miles

Listen to what your body tells you, and be alert for serious injuries. Consult your doctor if pain and inflammation don’t subside.

6. Use Helpful Running Devices

Various running apps and devices are accessible from your phone, such as Runtastic, which tracks your distance with its built-in GPS. Aside from this, the app could also allow you to take note of your experience. Runtastic works with Windows Phone 8, Android, Bada, iOS, and BlackBerry. The app will enable you to share your experience through your social networks.

You can also use the MapMyRun tracking app. The app features various running workouts that you would want to track, such as cross country, treadmill running, marathon races, and trail running. You can access MapMyFitness from your Android or iMapMy from your BlackBerry.

Install them to monitor your marathon’s progress.

7. Scan the Road Ahead Every Time and Expect the Unexpected

Don’t be looking somewhere else when your eyes must be focused on the terrain before you to avoid potholes or rough grounds. The marathon organizers may have cleared the terrain for you, but you can never tell when accidents happen. That’s why they are called accidents. Be cautious and focused on your run. 

8. Stop at Aid Stations and Use What They Offer Smartly

When you’re nearing the aid station, ensure that you’re on the road’s right side. Slow down and grab your choice of a hydrate. Again, I recommend that you choose Gatorade if it’s available in the first aid stops. 

Don’t rush into drinking your liquid. Slow down a bit as you drink. Pour the rest of the water on your head to help reduce the heat in your body. You have to drink at least six to seven ounces of water every 20-25 minutes.

If there are protein bars offered, you could grab a few to nourish yourself during your run. However, you could also bring your water and food. Recommended foods are oranges, jelly, beans, bananas, or honey.

9. After the Marathon, Do These Crucial Steps to Recover

Hydrate again 10-15 minutes after the marathon. Replenish your energy with a carbohydrate or protein treat. A protein bar or a small meal can help recharge your muscles and recover your energy.

Stretch your muscles again for 10-15 minutes to ease the soreness. You can then take a cold bath for 10-15 minutes to reduce pain, muscle swelling, or inflammation. Take a shower and eat a balanced meal and then rest and sleep.

We’ve answered the question: “How long is a marathon in km?”; How long is a marathon in miles?”; as well as “How long is a half marathon?” Let’s now proceed to tips on how to run a marathon faster.

How to Run a Marathon Faster?

Running a marathon faster to win entails rigorous proper training. Here are ways that you can run faster:

  1. Be familiar with the course where you intend to run. As much as possible, you can train in that terrain to know its pros and cons.
  1. Practice hydration and nutrition. Know the right foods and hydrating fluid to take with you while running. Know how your body responds to these types of foods and drinks.
  1. Increase your running mileage every week, and train consistently and adequately. Build your distance first before your speed. Know how to pace yourself. Only proper training could make you run faster.

How to Run Properly?

To reduce injuries, you should know how to run properly. Make sure your spine, head, and neck are aligned and your back straight. Look ahead and not down on your toes. Relax your shoulders and let them hang naturally, and not dip from side to side. 

Your arms should swing back and forth on your sides and not across your body. You can open your palms and curl them slightly inwards. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Your hips must be aligned to your torso and head as well. So, when you sprint forward, the alignment remains. Your chin or head must not be jutting forward. 

While running, do a normal knee lift. Your leg must land directly below your body. It should not extend ahead of your body. Flex your knee so that when your foot lands, it can bend naturally. You know you’re running right if you’re running like a thief, stealthily and silently.

Conclusion – How Long Is a Marathon in KM and Miles? How Long Is a Half Marathon?

So, how long is a marathon? A marathon is 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles) long. The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) standardized this length for all marathon races worldwide in 1921.

How long is a marathon in miles? A full marathon in miles is 26.2 miles (26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact).

How long is a marathon in km? A full marathon in km is 42.2 km (42.195 km to be exact).

How long is a half marathon in miles? A half marathon in miles is 13.1 miles.

How long is a half marathon in km? A half marathon in km is 21.2 km.

Typically, beginners run the marathon for 4-5 hours. But for experienced marathoners, they could finish the race in around 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

If you want to run a marathon, you can follow the pointers mentioned above to finish the length of the race safely.

Related reading:

How Long Does It Take to Run a Marathon or Half Marathon?

How Long Does It Take to Train for a Marathon and Half Marathon?