How Many Steps Are In A Marathon?

The data, broken down by stride length.

While some people work hard towards hitting the minimum number of steps per day to optimize health, active people, such as runners, may also want to know how many steps they run per day or walk per day in training.

For example, how many steps are in a mile running vs walking? How many steps are in a half marathon? How many steps are in a marathon?

If you don’t have a Garmin, Polar, or other running watch or fitness watch, you might run the entire 13.1 miles of a half marathon or 26.2 miles of a marathon and not know how many steps it took to run the marathon or half marathon.

According to the data collected from a study conducted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the average number of steps in a marathon is 52,400, and the average number of steps in a half marathon is 26,200.

In this guide, we will discuss the value of how many steps you run or walk a day and break down the average steps in a marathon and half marathon based on the average stride length running and walking a mile.

We will cover: 

Let’s jump in!

The average number of how many steps are in a marathon varies wildly depending on many factors.

What Is a Stride? Step Length vs. Stride Length

Before we look at the average number of steps in a marathon or half marathon, let’s quickly differentiate the terms step and stride.

A running stride is one complete revolution of the gait cycle, beginning at initial ground contact or heel strike and ending when that same foot makes ground contact again.

For example, one stride running would start as soon as you land on your right heel.

Then, it would continue as you push off on the right foot, land on the left foot, push off on the left foot, and then finally end just as the right heel makes ground contact again.

A step is half of one stride, so there are two steps for every one stride.

One step would be from the time that the right foot first makes ground contact at heel strike to when the left foot makes ground contact at heel strike.

Then, another step would be taken from this point in the gait cycle—left foot heel strike—to when the right foot again makes ground contact.

Your number of how many steps are in a marathon depends on many factors, including gait and speed.

How Many Steps Are In a Marathon?

There are several factors that affect how many steps are in a marathon or half marathon or any distance for that matter.

The primary factors that impact your step length or stride length are your height, age, sex, and the pace at which you are running or walking.1Poleur, M., Ulinici, A., Daron, A., Schneider, O., Farra, F. D., Demonceau, M., Annoussamy, M., Vissière, D., Eggenspieler, D., & Servais, L. (2021). Normative data on spontaneous stride velocity, stride length, and walking activity in a non-controlled environment. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13023-021-01956-5

Height 

In general, people who are taller have longer legs, which means that the average step length or stride length for a taller runner or walker will generally be longer than for a shorter person, even when both runners or walkers are covering a distance at the same pace.

For example, if you compare the number of steps in a mile running at 10 minutes per mile pace between someone who is 5 feet tall, or 60 inches, versus someone who is 6 feet tall, or 72 inches, generally, the person who is 6 feet tall will take fewer steps per mile.

The shorter runner will have a faster cadence, which means that he or she will be taking more steps per minute, but each step or running stride will be shorter or cover less distance than the taller runner.

Speed 

Running pace or the speed you are running also impacts how many steps you take running a marathon.

The faster you run or walk, the longer your stride tends to be.

Therefore, your average step length for brisk walking will be longer than your average step length during leisurely walking, and your average running stride length while jogging will be shorter than your average stride length running at a fast pace.

For example, one of the few studies that have really investigated the average stride length for runners evaluated running stride lengths for women in the 1984 Olympics based on race distances.

The analysis conducted by Jack Daniels revealed that the average stride length running a marathon was 4‘10“, or 58 inches, for elite women.2Step it up: Does running cadence matter? Not as much as previously thought. (2019, March 27). University of Michigan News. https://news.umich.edu/step-it-up-does-running-cadence-matter-not-as-much-as-previously-thought/

Your number of how many steps are in a marathon depends on your strength length

In contrast, the average stride length running the 800m race was 6‘8“, or 80 inches.

This is significantly longer—about 1.4 times as long—for running the shorter distance at a faster speed than the average stride length for the marathon distance.

It makes sense that the faster you are running, the fewer steps you will take to cover the same distance since increasing stride length and cadence are the two factors that help you run faster.

It is important to note that all of the athletes in this study were, by nature, elite runners since the data was gathered from the Olympic Games.

Recreational runners not only will likely have a shorter running stride length due to running slower, but even the mechanics may be different for elite runners, thus impacting running step length.

Age and Sex

Age and sex can factor into the number of steps in a marathon or half marathon, primarily in terms of how age and sex influence the pace and height of the person.

Women and seniors tend to take more steps running a marathon or half marathon than either a man or a younger person.

This is mainly due to the fact that, on average, women are slower and shorter than men (both of which make for a shorter average running stride length for a woman vs. a man running a marathon), and older runners tend to be slower than younger runners.

For these reasons, when we present data for the average number of steps for running a marathon or the average number of steps running a half marathon, we will only be looking at the steps in a marathon based on height and running speed rather than age and sex.

In general, there is a lack of research data available to analyze these factors, and the influence of gender and sex really comes into play only in terms of how they tend to affect average height and marathon pace or half marathon pace.

What Is the Average Number of Steps In a Marathon?

Most research that has looked at the average step length has been done with the average step length while walking.

For one, walking is much more common than running, and the range of average walking speeds is much smaller than the range of average running speeds.

According to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the average step length for women is approximately 26 inches, and the average step length for men is approximately 31 inches.3STRIDE ANALYSIS. (n.d.). Ouhsc.edu. https://ouhsc.edu/bserdac/dthompso/web/gait/knmatics/stride.htm

‌This research also reports that the average person takes 2,000 steps per mile while walking.

If we use this value for the number of steps in a mile, we can determine that the number of steps in a marathon would be 26.2 x 2000 = 52,400 steps, and the average number of steps in a half marathon would be half of that, so 26,200 steps.

How Many Steps Are In A Marathon? 1

However, again, these would be the average number of steps in a marathon while walking or the average number of steps to walk a half marathon, respectively.

Most people run marathons and half marathons.

The average number of steps running a marathon will be significantly fewer than the average number of steps walking a marathon since, as discussed, step length increases the faster you go, and you take fewer steps running a mile than walking a mile.

If we use the 1984 Olympics marathon stride length data from the women analyzed in the study, the average running stride length for the marathon was 58 inches, which means that the average step length running the marathon was 29 inches.4Step it up: Does running cadence matter? Not as much as previously thought. (2019, March 27). University of Michigan News. https://news.umich.edu/step-it-up-does-running-cadence-matter-not-as-much-as-previously-thought/

‌Because there are 5280 feet in a mile, there are 63,360 inches per mile and 1,660,032 inches in a marathon (26.2 miles).

Therefore, if the average step length running a marathon at world-class speed is 29 inches, we can determine that these elite marathon runners would take approximately 57,242 steps in a marathon.

How Many Steps Are In A Marathon? 2

The following chart provides the average number of steps per mile running at different speeds based on height from data collected in a research study.5Hoeger, W. W. K., Bond, L., Ransdell, L., Shimon, J. M., & Merugu, S. (2008). ONE-MILE STEP COUNT AT WALKING AND RUNNING SPEEDS. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal12(1), 14–19. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.fit.0000298459.30006.8d

‌You can find your approximate height in inches or centimeters using the columns on the left and then see the average number of steps in a mile running at different paces in the columns to the right.

Height (inches)Height (cm)6 min/mile8 min/mile10 min/mile12 min/mile
60 inches152.41,1361,4231,7101,997
62 inches157.481,1091,3961,6831,970
64 inches162.561,0821,3691,6561,943
66 inches167.641,0551,3421,6291,916
68 inches172.721,0281,3151,6021,889
70 inches170.181,0011,2881,5751,862
72 inches182.889471,2341,5211,808
74 inches187.969201,2071,4941,781

We can then use this data about the average number of steps in a mile run at different paces to determine how many steps are in a marathon and how many steps are in a half marathon based on pace. 

The following tables provide the extrapolation of this data so that you can see an approximation of how many steps you take in a marathon and half marathon, respectively.

Average Number of Steps In a Marathon Based On the Pace and Height

Height (inches)Height (cm)6 min/mile8 min/mile10 min/mile12 min/mile
60 inches152.429,76337,28344,80252,321
62 inches157.4829,05636,57544,09551,614
64 inches162.5628,34835,86843,38750,907
66 inches167.6427,64135,16042,68050,199
68 inches172.7226,93434,45341,97249,492
70 inches170.1826,22633,74641,26548,784
72 inches182.8824,81132,33139,85047,370
74 inches187.9624,10431,62339,14346,662
How Many Steps Are In A Marathon? 3

Average Number of Steps In a Half Marathon Based On the Pace and Height

Height (inches)Height (cm)6 min/mile8 min/mile10 min/mile12 min/mile
60 inches152.414,88218,64122,40126,161
62 inches157.4814,52818,28822,04725,807
64 inches162.5614,17417,93421,69425,453
66 inches167.6413,82117,58021,34025,100
68 inches172.7213,46717,22720,98624,746
70 inches170.1813,11316,87320,63324,392
72 inches182.8812,40616,16519,92523,685
74 inches187.9612,05215,81219,57123,331

As can be seen, taller runners and faster runners take fewer steps in a marathon.

You can also get a closer calculation of the number of steps you run in a marathon by wearing a running watch or fitness tracker that counts your steps during your race.

Keep in mind that studies suggest6Schubert, A. G., Kempf, J., & Heiderscheit, B. C. (2013). Influence of Stride Frequency and Length on Running Mechanics. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach6(3), 210–217. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738113508544 that increasing stride length is associated with increasing the risk of injuries, whereas increasing cadence is not.

So taking fewer steps isn’t necessarily better.

How Many Steps Are In A Marathon? 4

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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