So You Want to Walk a Marathon in 2021

Cool. Here’s your simple, step-by-step marathon walking training guide. Let’s get going!

Photo by Frederik Löwer on Unsplash

We both know you want to do this, but you’re just not sure how to begin. Don’t worry. I’ve got you. And the best news is, you’re about to scroll through everything you need to know in the next 4 minutes.

I’m about to start training for my 4th Chicago Marathon. Its scheduled for October 10th. I’m walking the marathon, not running. Below, I’ve included my complete training plan — including weekly mileage goals, a pacing chart, and more. I’ve also included a brief FAQ for anyone who wants to launch their own personal marathon attempt — even if it’s for the very first time.

Our 26-week training begins Monday, April 12th. Are you ready to lace up?

The Secret to Completing a Marathon

Honestly? It’s all about having a training plan. When you’ve got a plan, you’re equipped with the “bumpers” to keep you from dropping off into the gutter.

Believe me, for an undertaking of this magnitude, you need a solid plan for when you hit those walls of overwhelm. Without a plan, it’s easy to give up. And trust me, I know, because that happened during my first attempt, in 2002.

Since then, I’ve completed 2 full-length marathons — one in 2019 amidst a crowd of thousands, and another in 2020, completely by myself. And though in each one of my attempts I walked instead of ran, my pace (which falls between 15–17 minutes per mile) actually put me ahead of some runners. I prefer walking since it’s easier on my body, but the choice is completely up to you.

How To Start?

  1. Save this post
  2. Enter your training goals into your daily calendar NOW
  3. Tell people you’re training for a marathon

Congratulations! You’ve just set yourself up for success.

Enter your training goals into your daily calendar NOW

It’s critical to block out time for training. Early in your training, you’ll need 15 minutes; later, you’ll need to block out several hours. Make these times a priority, and build your plans around them.

I’ve made it easy for you by building this training schedule. Now, just go through your calendar and enter your mileage goals. If you want to know how long it’ll take to complete those goals, scroll down further to calculate your approximate pace. And, if you don’t yet know your pace yet, don’t worry. After a few training sessions, you’ll be able to figure that out.

Your first 13 weeks of training look like this:

This training schedule is my personal regimen. It does not serve as medical or professional training advice. Consult your doctor before undertaking this or any exercise program. (Author screenshot)

The second 13 weeks of training look like this:

This training schedule is my personal regimen. It does not serve as medical or professional training advice. Consult your doctor before undertaking this or any exercise program. (Author screenshot)

Here’s a pace calculator to help you see how many minutes each mile of training might take. Once you’ve had a few days of training, you’ll get a good sense of your current pace:

This is how many minutes it’ll take to complete your mileage at a particular pace. See the chart below to translate these figures into hours. This training schedule is my personal regimen. It does not serve as medical or professional training advice. Consult your doctor before undertaking this or any exercise program. (Author screenshot)

Here’s a chart of how many hours each mile might take you at a given pace:

This is how many hours it’ll take to complete your mileage goals at a particular pace. This training schedule is my personal regimen. It does not serve as medical or professional training advice. Consult your doctor before undertaking this or any exercise program. (Author screenshot)

Frequently Asked Questions (by no one in particular)

Q: Is this a group event or something I do individually?
A: It’s completely individual, though we’re together in spirit (and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TeamCovidMarathoners)

Q: What if I’ve never done a marathon before?
A: Everyone starts somewhere! I wrote about training for and completing my first marathon here.

Q: What do I need to get started?
A: Honestly, not much! Here’s what I recommend:

  1. A really good pair of running shoes (go to a running store and get properly fitted).
  2. Decent socks (I love Smartwool) that won’t give you blisters.
  3. A plan you’ll stick to (see above).
  4. A solid support system (I’ve created one on Facebook, @TeamCovidMarathoners)

Q: What if I want to raise money for a cause I believe in?
A: THAT’S AWESOME! I recommend creating a GoFundMe Page to set things up before you start training, then update the page often with details about your cause and updates on your training progress. Here’s the GoFundMe Link And here’s my GoFundMe Campaign from 2020.

Q: I’m not athletic. Can I still be a part of this?
A: Dude, no matter how you do this, just do it! You can turn this into your own marathon painting event…or a marathon dance contest…or a marathon write-in…or a marathon gardening event…or a marathon trash pick-up…seriously, whatever strikes your fancy. But just put in the time and have fun with it.

Q: What do I actually DO on 10/10/21 (Race Day)?
A: Seriously, design your day exactly as you’d like! In 2020, I designed my own DIY marathon course. I wrote about it here. Whatever you decide, just make sure to follow CDC pandemic guidelines and STAY SAFE!

I wish you the best of luck on this marathon journey. Please keep us posted how your training goes!

Christine Wolf is a marathoner, memoir coach, and founder of Writers’ Haven LLC. Download her free marathon training schedule here, and find more of her work at www.christinewolf.com.

Writing Coach. Journalist. Author. Marathoner. Lover of emotions, words & spicy nachos. Find me on Twitter & Insta @tinywolf1, and at www.christinewolf.com

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