Can You Stop And Rest During A Marathon?

Marathon is no easy feat. It’s 26 miles of a shear beatdown from the pavement and enduring fatigue. And for some newbie runners, stopping and resting a few times during the whole duration of the race seems inevitable. But can you stop and rest in the middle of a marathon and still finish the race?

In general, you can stop and take a short rest during a marathon as long as you can finish each mile at 13:40. By doing so, you will be able to finish a marathon just before the 6-hour time cap. However, it is highly recommended that you continue walking to rest instead of stopping completely. 

Ahead, we will look at how you can rest during a marathon without actually stopping. We will also look at some of the basics such as the cut-off time and the slowest pace you can run to be able to finish it.

Without further ado, let’s dig right into it!

Do People Stop And Rest During A Marathon?

When you’re talking about a marathon, you’re talking about a giant milestone that runners from all walks of life sought after. Most participants in a marathon event didn’t just sign up a month before the event and decided to run a marathon with no training which can lead to serious consequences.

That said, most participants of a marathon are experienced runners or have trained for many months to get in marathon shape.

Needless to say, it is uncommon to see runners who will completely stop and rest during a marathon for longer than 5 mins. Most runners will slow down or walk to recover.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to finish a marathon if you take a break. As long as you finish each mile in under 13:45 seconds, you will be able to finish a marathon within 6 hours, which is the usual cut-off of a marathon race.

It’s perfectly fine to take a 5 min break on hydration stations which are spread out 4-5 miles apart. Some people may even need that rest. But keep in mind that it’s always better to recover actively by walking or slowing down than to stop and rest.

Related post: Do Marathon Runners Run The Whole Time? (A Guide To Walk Breaks)

Slow Down Instead Of Stopping

Walking or jogging when you need rest instead of stopping to take a break is key to getting a better marathon finish. Not only that it is doable, but it’s also better for you mentally and physically.

If you stop in the middle of a marathon to take a break, you might experience mental fatigue. At which point, you no longer have the mental strength to get yourself back up and start moving.

Remember Newton’s first law of motion? A body that stays in motion wants to stay in motion; a body that stays at rest wants to stay at rest. The same goes for running. If you’ve had a good rest in the middle of your run after experiencing a beatdown, it may be harder to get back to running.

A while back, I and a bunch of trail runners were talking about resting in the middle of the run and one guy (I forgot his name, sorry) mentioned that he gets cramps coming back from rest if that rest is too long. And for that reason, he just slows down if he feels like he needs a break. Sure, he’ll stop for bathroom breaks or refill his bottle, but apart from that, he’s constantly moving.

“I also don’t like to give myself permission to stop in the middle of the run” he added. “Because once you allowed yourself to rest like that, you’re gonna do it more often afterward“.

I’m sure many of us has had experienced that—allowing ourselves to stop and rest then taking more breaks than we actually need.

Personally, the reason why I choose to walk or jog instead of stopping and taking a complete rest has something to do with my flow. If I got my rhythm, breathing, and heart rate just right, I don’t like to snap out of my flow by stopping.

I usually just stick to a pace I’m comfortable with and once I feel tired, I slow it down a little bit and bring the intensity back up once I recover.

When running a marathon, you should plan and practice your walk/run strategy ahead of time. You can do it by setting run/walk intervals or you can do it by distance (e.g. 1 min walk for every 5 mins run or 100m walk for every 500m run)

I highly discourage doing it just “by feel”. What you feel is very different from what you can actually do. If you implement a run/walk strategy based on how you feel, you’d most likely find yourself walking more than you’re running. Or worst, running too fast when at the beginning and completely run out of gas halfway through the race.

What Is The Marathon Cut-Off Time?

If you’re searching for stoping and taking breaks during a marathon, there’s a very high chance that you’d also want to know what the cut-off time is to know if you’re going to make it or not.

On average, marathons have a cut-off time of around 6 hours. Some marathons stay open up to 7 hours to provide support for those who are slower while some marathons have a cut-off time of only 5 hours. You should inquire about this to the organizer just before you sign up to be sure.

That is actually a generous amount of time. The average runner runs a marathon between 4-5 hours. That said, you have 1-2 hours of leeway in case you run at a below-average pace.

What Is The Slowest Pace You Can Maintain To Finish A Marathon

The slowest pace that you should be able to maintain to finish a marathon in 6 hours is just under 13:45 per mile. However, I recommend that you aim for at least a 10-min mile which puts you in the average of runners.

That way, if you have to slow down at the next half of the race, you will still be able to finish the marathon in under 6 hours.

Do Experienced Runners Rest During A Marathon?

Experienced runners rest during a marathon, but they usually don’t stop completely. As mentioned above, walking as an active recovery is a very common and useful strategy in marathon races, and it isn’t just for complete beginners. Some experienced runners walk too.

Final Thoughts

Finishing a marathon is a huge achievement. It shows extreme determination and discipline. That said, if you choose to run a marathon, you’ll have to invest your time, money, and effort into it.

If you’re wondering how many miles do runners run a week when they’re training for a marathon, I’ve talked about it on a separate article, be sure to check it out.

Hey, if you’re looking for the perfect running gear and you’re having a hard time choosing one, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites below.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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