When it comes to marathon running, there’s much more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other. While running a marathon, it’s not uncommon for runners to wonder just how many steps they are taking to complete the 26.2-mile journey. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the fascinating world of marathon running, break down the number of steps it takes to complete a marathon, and provide you with some valuable insights to help you understand this iconic race better.

How Many Steps in a Marathon?

Running a marathon is a feat of endurance and determination, and the number of steps taken varies from person to person due to factors like stride length and running efficiency. However, on average, a runner will take approximately 52,400 to 55,000 steps to complete a full marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 kilometers).

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the number of steps in a marathon for an average runner with a stride length of about 2.5 feet:

  • Step Count: Approximately 52,400 to 55,000 steps
  • Miles per Step: Roughly 0.0005 to 0.000499 miles per step
  • Kilometers per Step: Approximately 0.0008 to 0.000799 kilometers per step

It’s important to note that this is an estimate and that individual variations in stride length and running style will affect the actual step count for each runner.

Factors Influencing Step Count

Several factors influence the number of steps it takes to complete a marathon:

1. Stride Length

Stride length refers to the distance covered with each step. Longer strides will result in fewer steps, while shorter strides mean more steps to cover the same distance. Your natural stride length is influenced by your height, leg length, and running form. To increase your stride length, you can work on flexibility and strength, which can help you take more ground with each step.

2. Terrain

The terrain you choose to run on can significantly impact your step count in a marathon. Running on flat terrain generally requires fewer steps compared to hilly or uneven terrain. When you run uphill, you’ll take shorter, more frequent steps to maintain your pace, while downhill running often involves longer strides.

3. Running Efficiency

Running efficiency is the ability to use your energy effectively while running. Efficient runners tend to have a lower step count because they waste less energy on unnecessary movements. Improving your running efficiency can involve working on your posture, stride, and cadence. Professional runners often focus on optimizing their running efficiency to improve performance.

4. Pacing

Your pace can also impact step count. Faster runners tend to have a higher step turnover because they take more steps per minute to maintain their speed. However, they may still take fewer steps overall because they cover more ground with each stride. Slower runners may take more steps in total due to their lower speed and shorter stride length.

Training to Reduce Step Count

While the number of steps in a marathon is influenced by various factors, there are ways to train effectively and potentially reduce your step count:

1. Work on Your Stride Length

As mentioned earlier, increasing your stride length can help you cover more ground with fewer steps. Focus on flexibility and strength exercises to improve your stride length gradually. Remember, sudden changes in stride length can lead to injuries, so make changes gradually.

2. Improve Running Efficiency

Enhancing your running efficiency involves practicing good running form and posture. You can work on this by consulting with a running coach or analyzing your form through video feedback. Proper form can help you conserve energy and reduce the number of unnecessary movements.

3. Train on Different Terrains

If possible, incorporate various terrains into your training regimen. Running on hills, trails, and flat surfaces can help you adapt to different conditions, improve your agility, and develop the ability to adjust your stride length as needed during a race.

4. Monitor Your Cadence

Cadence refers to the number of steps you take per minute while running. Tracking your cadence and aiming for an optimal range can help you run more efficiently. Many experienced runners aim for a cadence of around 180 steps per minute, but individual preferences may vary.


In conclusion, running a marathon is a remarkable achievement that involves taking tens of thousands of steps to reach the finish line. The average runner will take approximately 52,400 to 55,000 steps to complete the 26.2-mile distance. However, it’s crucial to remember that individual variations, such as stride length and running efficiency, can lead to differences in step count.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or someone considering taking on this challenge, understanding the number of steps involved can provide valuable insights into the physical demands of the race. To optimize your performance and reduce your step count, consider working on your stride length, improving running efficiency, training on different terrains, and monitoring your cadence.

Related Article

Q1. How long is a marathon?

A1. A marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers long.

Q2. Do all marathon runners take the same number of steps?

A2. No, the number of steps in a marathon varies from runner to runner based on factors like stride length and running efficiency.

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