As a runner, understanding the factors that affect calorie burn during a marathon is essential. Several variables come into play when determining how many calories you burn while running a marathon. These include gender, age, body weight, basal metabolic rate, race-day environment, and running pace.


Men and women have different body compositions, which can impact calorie burn during exercise. The Mayo Clinic notes that men typically have less body fat and more muscle mass compared to women of the same age and weight. This difference in body composition means that men generally burn more calories during physical exertion than women. Consequently, male marathon runners tend to experience higher calorie burns and potentially greater weight loss during the race.


Age plays a role in the number of calories burned during a marathon. Older runners generally have a slower resting metabolic rate, meaning they burn fewer calories during exercise. As people age, their muscle mass tends to decrease, while fat accounts for more of their weight. This shift in body composition slows down calorie burning and can influence the overall calorie burn during a marathon.

Body Weight

Body weight is a significant factor in calorie burn during a marathon. Heavier individuals burn more calories per hour than those who weigh less. For example, a 125-pound person running for 30 minutes at 5 mph burns approximately 240 calories. In contrast, a person weighing 155 pounds burns around 288 calories at the same speed and duration. The calorie burn further increases to 336 for a person weighing 185 pounds. Therefore, the more you weigh, the more calories you tend to burn during a marathon.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Regardless of gender, age, and body weight, each person has a unique basal metabolic rate (BMR) that influences their calorie burn. Metabolism is the process by which calories and oxygen are converted into energy. Some runners naturally have a faster metabolism, resulting in a higher calorie burn during a marathon. On the other hand, health conditions such as hypothyroidism can slow down metabolism, affecting the number of calories burned.

Race-Day Environment

The environment in which the marathon takes place also affects calorie burn. Factors such as altitude, sun exposure, wind, humidity, and temperature can impact the number of calories burned during the race. For instance, running in sunny, hot, and humid conditions can increase your internal body temperature, which boosts your basal metabolic rate and calorie burn. Similarly, running at high altitudes or against the wind requires more effort from your body, leading to a higher calorie burn.

It’s worth noting that running outdoors typically results in a higher calorie burn compared to running on a treadmill. However, you can adjust the treadmill’s incline to 1 percent to simulate outdoor running and match the calorie burn. Additionally, maintaining proper hydration during the race is crucial. The Denver Colfax Marathon Partnership suggests doing sweat-rate tests before the marathon to determine the adequate fluid intake needed to avoid dehydration or overhydration.

Running Pace

Your running pace directly affects the number of calories burned during a marathon. Running at a faster pace requires more energy and results in a higher calorie burn. For example, a 155-pound runner who averages 5 mph burns approximately 288 calories every half hour. If the same runner increases the pace to 7.5 mph, the calorie burn increases to 450. Additionally, running a 6-minute mile burns about 562 calories for a 155-pound runner.

Faster runners might experience more significant weight loss during a marathon due to the higher calorie burn. To put it into perspective, losing 1 pound of body weight requires burning 3,500 more calories than consumed. Therefore, the higher the calorie burn during the marathon, the greater the potential for weight loss.

Marathoner Nutrition

While exercise and physical training are essential for marathon running, proper nutrition plays an equally vital role. Before, during, and after a marathon, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to improve performance and endurance. Given the high energy demands of long runs, marathon runners should focus on consuming healthy foods to fuel their bodies effectively.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, two weeks before the marathon, additional complex carbohydrates should be incorporated into the diet. Approximately 70 percent of your diet should consist of complex carbohydrates, with fat and protein making up 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, three days before the race. This dietary approach ensures that runners have sufficient energy reserves for the marathon.

A race-day breakfast is also essential to sustain energy levels during the race. The Cleveland Clinic recommends consuming 800 to 1,200 calories before the marathon. This meal should consist of a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy.

Calories Burned Running a Marathon

Running a marathon is an excellent way to burn calories and achieve weight loss goals. On average, runners burn approximately 100 calories per mile while running. Considering the distance of a marathon, which is 26.2 miles, this translates to an average calorie burn of over 2,600 calories. Impressively, this exceeds the recommended daily calorie intake for both men and women.

If you’re interested in tracking your calorie burn while running, there are various fitness trackers available. Some popular options include the Polar Grit X Pro watch, Apple smartwatch Series 7, Fitbit Versa 3, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and Garmin Instinct 2 Multi-Sport.

To calculate a more accurate estimate of your calorie burn during a marathon, several factors need to be considered. These factors include your body weight and the intensity of your running. A useful tool to estimate calorie burn is the calorie calculator for running a marathon available on the UK Fitness Events website.

For individuals with weight loss goals, several fitness apps can help track both calorie intake and expenditure, assisting in maintaining a calorie deficit.

How to Burn More Calories While Running

If you’re looking to maximize calorie burn during your training, adjusting your program can make a significant difference. Here are some strategies to increase calorie burn while running:

  1. Incorporate Intervals: Intervals involve mixing short bursts of higher intensity running with your usual comfortable pace. This not only increases calorie burn but also helps improve speed.
  2. Include Hill Training: Running on inclines challenges your muscles and increases calorie burn. Incorporate hilly routes into your running routine to see the benefits.
  3. Change Your Running Route: If you usually run outdoors, consider changing your route to one with more inclines or varied terrain. If you prefer treadmill running, adjust the incline to make it more challenging.
  4. Utilize Fitness Watches: Invest in a fitness watch or tracker that allows you to monitor your calorie burn while running. This can provide real-time feedback and help you gauge your progress.

By implementing these strategies, you can maximize the number of calories burned during your training sessions and improve overall fitness.


How many calories are typically burned during a marathon?

The number of calories burned during a marathon varies depending on factors such as body weight, running pace, and individual characteristics. On average, runners burn around 100 calories per mile. Therefore, for a marathon distance of 26.2 miles, the calorie burn can exceed 2,600 calories.

What factors influence the number of calories burned while running a marathon?

Several factors influence the number of calories burned while running a marathon. These factors include gender, age, body weight, basal metabolic rate, race-day environment, and running pace.

Is it possible to determine the precise number of calories burned during a marathon?

While it is challenging to determine the precise number of calories burned during a marathon, estimations can be made using factors such as body weight, running time, and distance. Calorie calculators and fitness trackers can provide more accurate estimates based on these variables.

Can the number of calories burned during a marathon vary based on an individual’s weight and pace?

Yes, an individual’s weight and running pace significantly impact the number of calories burned during a marathon. Heavier individuals tend to burn more calories per hour, and faster running paces result in a higher calorie burn.

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