Theoretical marathon training

The other day I was thinking about marathon training, and how the majority of people say you want to build up time on your feet to something like the time you want to do your marathon in (only slower).

I was wondering whether for the slower runners out there, whether starting with a 4 hour walk for the "long run" part of the schedule, for maybe 4 weeks and then adding increasing amounts of running to the end (total time still 4 hours) would be a different (potentially successful) way of doing things?

This is a completely theoretical musing of mine, I have no intention of running a marathon any time soon, but what does everyone think?


  • when i trained for my theoretical 2:10 marathon i did lots of theoretical long runs but didn't do any theoretical long walks.
  • Is there not something in the fact that running & walking use the muscle set in different ways, so you're not necessarily training them to run if you're walking? I walk and run with very different styles, so I know there's something changes quite markedly with the change in gait.

    I'd also have thought that running incurs more impact than walking, and part of training has to be getting used to that.

  • My coach is a big fan of 'time on feet' when training beginners to marathon running.  However, he would emphasise tht you run as much of it as you can, and then walk the bits you can't - for example hills, or where you need a short rest.  He is also an advocate of walking when you are injured, have a cold, or are too achy to run.

    I don't think that a four hour walk is a useful step to a four hour run, except as a way of buuilding up your basic fitness level.  From a physical point of view I think you would benefit more from doing more 10 mile training runs than you would from walking for 4 hours.

  • Walking would only prepare you for walking.

    Maybe if you cant run and are incredibly sedentary then walking would be a decent preparation before you start to run ?
  • I just thought that even standing for 4 hours seems like quite a long time and that even if you never got up to the full 4 hours running, which would be the goal, you might suffer less in the marathon itself (if you were used to being on your feet for 4 hours).

    From my one time watching VLM there were a lot of people walking quite substantial sections that probably hadn't been planning to walk and I did  wonder whether thy would ache a bit from not being used to walking that much as well as from the running part.

    I had envisaged that the rest of the training plan woul be the normal "training for a marathon" runs.

  • Dont people do umpteen hours of walking around when they go Xmas shopping ? Or is that just me following my wife around ?
  • I ached more the two years I have supported at London than I did the year I ran it.  I put that down to lots of reasons:

    • I trained for running it.  I didn't train for walking
    • I was wearing tried and tested clothes for the marathon.  I was wearing clothes that would be warm when I was supporting.
    • I looked after my nutrition and hydration when I was running, but had nothing to eat or drink all day when I was supporting.
    • I went to bed early and got a good nights sleep before the marathon.  I sat up drinking the nights before supporting
    • I had tapered my training leading up to the marathon.  I was still doing 2 hours per day of assorted exercise in the week before supporting

    So my conclusion is that running doesn't train you for walking events, so I doubt that the revers is true either.

  • I think there is something in grast_girl's idea. She isn't saying just go for walks to prepare for a marathon, she's saying do a few long walks before you start hardcore long runs and run sorter runs throughout the week. I think a lot of slower/casual runners would feel the world of benefit if they spent a day in the hills and I bet they'd realise it isn't as easy as it sound if you go somewhere hilly.
  • I think it also depends on what timescales you are talking about.  Doing a lot of extra walking on top of a structured 16 week running training plan is probably not a good idea as it would lead to excessive tiredness and possible over training.  It would also eat into family time and could mentally be more difficult as your life gets taken over by training.

    But getting into walking in the 6 months to a year before attempting a marathon is probably not a bad idea.  Initially I had thought that she meant the former.

  • When I first started running I did a long walk with some running. Used an interval timer, think I walked 4 minutes then ran 1 minute. Managed 9.5 miles in 2 hours.

    It was useful because it gave me the confidence to enter a half marathon - I knew I could get round in under 3 hours.

    I think a 4 (or 5) hour walk could be a useful reality check for someone thinking of entering a marathon - if you can't do it, don't enter.

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