Calories Burned Running a Marathon

Written by Noleen Arendse

The calories burned running a marathon can range from 2,620 to 4,716 depending on your weight and pace. 

The average person burns about 100  to 180 calories per mile. The calories burned running a marathon can therefore range from 2,620 to about 4,716 (or more). 

Average calories burned running a marathon

The average calories burned running a marathon can depend on several factors. The most common are your weight and running pace. 

Calories burned running a marathon

Generally, you can expect to burn anywhere from 2,620 calories to 4,716 calories during a marathon. 

For a better idea of how many calories you can burn, we recommend using our calories burned running calculator.

A marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers

You can estimate to burn between 100-180 calories per mile depending on your weight.

Calories per mile table

The table below represents the calories per mile split when running a marathon at an average pace of 10 min/mile. 

Weight (lbs)Mile 1Mile 2Mile 3Mile 4Mile 5Mile 6Mile 7Mile 8Mile 9Mile 10Mile 11Mile 12Mile 13Mile 14Mile 15Mile 16Mile 17Mile 18Mile 19Mile 20Mile 21Mile 22Mile 23Mile 24Mile 25Mile 26
12089178267356445534623712801890979106811571246133514241513160216911780186919582047213622252314
130961922883844805766727688649601056115212481344144015361632172818241920201621122208230424002496
14010320630941251561872182492710301133123613391442154516481751185419572060216322662369247225752678
15011122233344455566677788899911101221133214431554166517761887199821092220233124422553266427752886
160118236354472590708826944106211801298141615341652177018882006212422422360247825962714283229503068
1701252503755006257508751000112512501375150016251750187520002125225023752500262527502875300031253250
1801332663995326657989311064119713301463159617291862199521282261239425272660279329263059319233253458
1901402804205607008409801120126014001540168018201960210022402380252026602800294030803220336035003640
20014829644459274088810361184133214801628177619242072222023682516266428122960310832563404355237003848
21015531046562077593010851240139515501705186020152170232524802635279029453100325534103565372038754030
22016232448664881097211341296145816201782194421062268243025922754291630783240340235643726388840504212
230170340510680850102011901360153017001870204022102380255027202890306032303400357037403910408042504420

The most frequently used figure for calories burned running a mile is 100 calories per mile (or 60 calories per km). However, this is usually only typical if you weigh 140lbs. 

According to the CDC, the average American female weighs about 170lbs and the average male weighs 200lbs. [1]

At a pace of 11 min/mile, the average female will burn approximately 130 calories per mile. This is about 3,406 calories burned running a marathon.

At a pace of 10:30 min/mile, the average male will burn about 150 calories per mile. This is about 3,930 calories burned running a marathon. 

Your weight and running pace are the main factors that influence calories burned running a marathon.

Impact of weight on calories burned running

The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn while running a marathon. The reason for this is that there is physically more mass to move and your body needs more energy to power your run. 

Calories burned running a marathon according to weight 

Calories burned running a marathon by weight

Impact of pace on calorie expenditure

The faster your pace, the more calories you’ll burn due to the high demand placed on your heart, lungs, and muscles.

In the chart below (for 170lb runner), you can see that at a slower pace, time comes into play with calories burned. The longer you run, the more calories you’ll burn. 

Calories Burned Running by Marathon Pace

The fitter an individual, the more efficient they become at burning calories. [2] For those marathon runners who are super fit and can maintain a fast pace, they’ll generally burn fewer calories than less fit individuals. 

Impact of terrain on calories burned running

Running uphill is more demanding than running a flat course. If the course has frequent hills or is a steady uphill, you’ll naturally burn more calories. 

The table below shows a comparison of calories burned per hour on a flat versus a 5% incline (both running at 10 min/mile pace) compared to hilly terrain with an elevate of approximately 100m. 

Calories burned running an hour on a flat, incline and hilly terrain

WeightRunning Flat 10 min/mileUphill 5% gradientHilly Terrain – elevation of 100m
120531760948
1305758231027
1406208861106
1506649501185
16070810131264
17075210761344
18079711401423
19084112031502
20088512661581
21093013301660
22097413931739
230101814561818

Effect of running style - stride and cadence

Shorter strides are generally considered to be more energy efficient, which reduces overall calorie burn.

Longer strides use more of the larger muscles which will burn more calories.

Higher cadence (more steps per minute), is also generally considered to burn fewer calories and can also reduce the impact on your joints and muscles.

Environmental factors - weather and temperature

If it’s hot or humid, your body works hard to keep itself cool. Running against the wind will also burn slightly more calories due to the extra demand.

High altitude requires your body to work harder to absorb oxygen, especially if you haven’t adjusted to the altitude. This will cause your heart to beat faster and you’ll breathe heavier to absorb more oxygen. 

After a long or intense run, your body continues to burn calories to help with recovery – known as the afterburn effect. This results in about 5 – 15% extra calories burned. [3]

After an intense or long run, your body uses energy to replenish oxygen stores, remove lactate, repair microscopic muscle tears, and refuel energy stores.

To do that it needs extra calories. This is known as the afterburn effect or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption EPOC. [3]

Afterburn effect of running a marathon

Higher intensity and longer duration cause a greater EPOC. This can be between 5 – 15% extra calories burned. So if you’ve burned about 2,620 calories running a marathon, you can burn between 131 to 393 extra calories.

Don’t count on EPOC for weight loss but if you follow a healthy diet that has a calorie deficit, any additional calories burned are a bonus. 

Attempting a marathon without enough carbohydrates before and during the race can lead to hitting the wall. Refueling after a marathon will help your body recover. 

Snacks and meals to eat before running a marathon

Hitting the wall is a complex phenomenon that has many factors. One of the main causes is that your body runs out of energy in the form of carbs which forces you to slow down so it can turn fat into fuel. [4]

You want to avoid hitting the wall at all costs. It will ruin your run. Apart from feeling exhausted, you’ll also experience severe muscle aches and struggle to even walk home.

One of the best ways to prevent this is to make sure you’re getting enough carbs.  You should eat a fist-sized portion of complex carbs 4-6 times in the 24 hours before doing an endurance run.[5]

Also, include a palm-sized portion of protein with every meal and snack 24 hours before the marathon. 

For more ideas, read: What to eat before running.

Baked Sweet Potato
Baked sweet potato
Breakfast Smoothie
Berry oats smoothie
Scrambled Eggs
Pre-run meal scrambled eggs
Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk

Meal and snack ideas

  • Porridge
  • Chicken and rice or couscous
  • Banana and peanut butter sandwich
  • Scrambled eggs and pitta bread
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Berry, oats, and peanut butter smoothie
  • Steak wrap
  • Rice pudding
  • Chocolate milk
  • Vegetable soup

As well as eating before a marathon, you must take some food to fuel you during the run. 

Snacks to eat during a marathon

After 60 minutes of running, you’ll need to take in some carbs to ensure that you don’t hit the wall. Eat something every 45 minutes after that. 

Calories burned running a marathon when to eat

Choose want-to-eat snacks that are easily and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream (high GI).

Be aware of options that may be choking hazards as you’ll be eating while running. 

Eating or drinking while running might feel strange at first so it’s vital to practice it. Your gut needs to be trained to get used to digesting while running. 

Energy Drink
What to eat while running sports drink
4 to 5 Jelly Babies
Jelly Babies - What to eat while running
Peanut M & M's
Peanut M & Ms
Dates
What to eat while running dates

Choose fast-release carbs that you enjoy eating such as:

  • Energy gels in your favorite flavors
  • Energy bars
  • Jelly Babies
  • Peanut M & M’s
  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Sports drinks

If you enjoy more natural options, raisins are as effective as sports gels. [6]

Don’t forget to practice the best way to carry your snacks. While your favorite snack might look tempting initially, once it’s spent an hour in a sweaty shorts pocket, you might change your mind.

It’s also good to have a quick fast-release recovery drink available at the end of your run. For more on this read: What to eat while running. 

What to eat after a marathon

For about 24 hours after exercise, the body is primed to absorb nutrients optimally to help with recovery. This is known as the post-exercise recovery window. [7]

Both carbs and proteins are essential for post-run recovery. [5] Carbs refill glycogen stores and proteins help repair and rebuild muscles.

Aim to eat 3g of carbs per kilogram of body weight for the whole day. For protein, as a general guideline, include a minimum of 20g of protein in your first post-run meal.

For more on what to eat after a marathon, read What to eat after running.

Ready-made recovery drinks are easy to prepare and are formulated with carbs, proteins, and electrolytes. They are an ideal solution if you’re wondering what to eat after running. The Recovery Drink below from Skratch Labs also has non-vegan options and includes electrolytes. 

Post-Run Recovery Drink (vegan)
$36.95 ($1.48 / Ounce)
View on Amazon
03/09/2024 11:50 pm GMT

You can also easily make your own if you prefer to stick to homemade options. 

Tropical Smoothie
What to eat after running tropical smoothie
Hot Chocolate
High intensity run - chocolate milk
Mocha Shake
What to drink after running mocha shake
Berry Banana Shake
Berry shake

Recipes for recovery drinks

TROPICAL SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 200ml / 7 fl oz / 34 cup tropical fruit juice
  • 200g / 7 fl oz / 34 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • Handful of ice

Method

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until mixed. 

RECOVERY HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients

  • 300ml / 10 1/2 fl oz / 1 ¼  cup skimmed milk
  • 25g / 10oz skimmed milk powder
  • 20g / 34 oz dark/butter chocolate (70%+ cocoa) broken into small bits

Method

  • Warm the milk and milk powder in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the powder has dissolved. 
  • Add the chocolate pieces and stir until melted.

MOCHA SHAKE

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1tsp instant coffee powder
  • 300ml/10 ½ fl oz /1 ¼ cups skimmed milk
  • 200ml / 7fl oz / 34 cup coconut water

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve over ice if you prefer. 

If you prefer filter coffee, reduce some of the liquid for the skimmed milk and coconut water instead. 

BERRY BANANA SHAKE

Ingredients

  • 62.5 g / 2.22oz / ¼ cup vanilla whey protein or vegan option
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries, sliced
  • 1 small frozen banana or pineapple
  • 165 ml / 10.68 fl oz / ⅔ cup skim milk (oats/coconut/almond milk)
  • ½ cup tart cherry juice
  • 2 tsp honey

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. One serving is a glass, so refrigerate the rest. 

Staying hydrated before and during a run is essential to your health and performance.

Make sure you are adequately hydrated before, during, and after the marathon. 

To make sure that you are properly hydrated for your run, it’s important to make hydration a priority before your run. Generally, men need about 3.4 L per day, and women, 2.6 L per day. [8

However, keep in mind that this can vary quite a bit so it’s good to check your hydration levels by using a Runners Urine Chart

What to eat before running urine chart

How to work out your average sweat rate

Use shorter runs to work out your average sweat rate to get an estimate of how much fluid you’ll need for longer runs. 

  1. Weigh yourself before and after a run.
  2. Any weight you’ve lost will most likely be due to perspiration.
  3. Work out your average sweat rate per hour of running.
  4. Calculate how much liquid you need to carry on your run to replenish fluids during the run.

For example, a 1-hour test run shows that I lose 1.5Ibs of water. Therefore, my sweat rate is about 30 fl oz per hour (0.8 L). For a 3-hour run, I would need to carry 90 fl oz (2.5 L) in my backpack. 

As a general guideline, after your run, you need to drink about 1.5L of fluid (50 fl oz) for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost in body weight. [9]

Sports drinks can be useful here because not only will they replenish electrolytes, but they also contain carbs to keep your energy up.

Workout type, intensity, and body weight are the main factors that affect how many calories you can burn in an hour.

Generally, running burns more calories than most other exercises but plenty of workout types torch calories!

1 hour running versus other exercises

Weight Running Cycling HIIT Swimming Weight Lifting Walking
120 531 457 400 331 285 274
130 575 495 433 359 309 297
140 620 533 466 386 333 320
150 664 571 500 414 357 342
160 708 609 533 441 381 365
170 752 647 566 469 404 388
180 797 685 600 497 428 411
190 841 723 633 524 452 434
200 885 762 666 552 476 457
210 930 800 700 580 500 480
220 974 838 733 607 523 502
230 1018 876 766 635 547 525
One hour workout calories compared

The number of calories burned in an hour (no matter the workout type) depends on several factors and differs between individuals.

For a better idea of how many calories you burn, here are a few useful calculators:

While running burns calories, there are some common misconceptions about the number of calories burned and weight loss. 

Faster pace = huge calories boost

Calories burned running faster pace versus longer run

Running faster does burn more calories per minute… but the total gain might not be as much as you expect. 

Shorter, faster runs can burn fewer calories in total compared to a longer slower run.

For example, a 170-pound runner, running 3 miles in 30 minutes can burn about 397 calories. If the same runner runs 6 miles in 75 minutes, the calories burned running will be 789. 

Running is the ultimate calorie torcher

Running is the ultimate calorie torcher

While running is a great fat burner, it’s not the only show in town. Activities like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), swimming, and cycling can burn similar calories. Cross training can also help prevent injuries from over training. 

Every calorie burned shows on the scale

Every calorie burned shows on the scale

Don’t expect immediate weight loss solely based on running calories. Factors like diet, muscle gain, and overall energy expenditure play a bigger role. 

Celebrate overall fitness improvements, not just the numbers on the scale. 

All runs burn the same

Calories burned running - All runs burn the same calories

Not all runs burn the same number of calories. Terrain, incline, and wind resistance significantly impact calorie burn. 

Hill repeats or running against the wind will torch more calories than a flat, calm course. 

Empty stomach = maximum burn

Running on an empty stomach is not always the best strategy. Training low (without eating first) can teach your body to get better at using fat as fuel… but:

  • Keep your heart rate less than 60%.
  • Only train low once a week.
  • A higher heart rate or done more frequently can lead to a depressed immune system.

A few more misconceptions

Ignoring post-run burn: After a run, your body burns calories to repair muscle and restore energy. If your diet is on track, this can significantly increase your total calorie expenditure. 

Calories outweigh nutrition: Focusing solely on burning calories can backfire. Eat a balanced diet with adequate protein and carbs to fuel your runs and promote recovery. This will contribute to long-term fitness and overall metabolic health. 

Gadget reliance is everything: While heart rate monitors and calorie trackers offer data, they’re not always accurate. Individual factors and environmental conditions influence actual calorie burn. Use them as a guide, not the gospel. 

No pain, no gain: Pushing yourself too hard can lead to injury and hinder your fitness journey. Listen to your body, respect your limits, and gradually increase intensity and distance. This will help you avoid burnout and enjoy running in the long run. 

Training to run a marathon will improve your heart health and fitness. It will also help you lose weight, strengthen your body, and improve your sleep. 

It takes about 16 to 20 weeks to train for a marathon. During this time, not only will experience several physical benefits but it will also improve your overall health and well being. 

Physical benefits of training to run a marathon

Boost cardiovascular health

Regular running strengthens your heart, lungs, and circulation and lowers your blood pressure. [10] 

This translates to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. 

Increases energy levels

Regular running improves your body’s efficiency at using oxygen. This leads to increased energy levels throughout the day. You’ll feel less fatigued and more capable of tackling your daily tasks. 

Enhances weight management

Running is an effective way to burn calories, this will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. [11] 

Running also builds muscle mass which results in an increase metabolism which further helps with weight management. 

Strengthens bones and muscles

Running is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning it puts stress on your bones and muscles, stimulating them to become stronger.

This can help prevent osteoporosis and improve overall strength and coordination.

Improves sleep quality

Exercise like running can healthily tire your body, promoting better sleep quality and deeper sleep cycles.

Training to run a marathon can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, boost your self-esteem, and improve your cognitive function. 

Regular running will not only benefit you physically but will also improve your mental health.  

Mental benefits of training to run a marathon

Reduces stress and anxiety

During a run, your body releases endorphins in your body which are natural mood-boosters that combat stress and anxiety.[12]  Regular running can also help you process the flight and fight response caused by stress and anxiety. [13] 

Boosts your mood and self-esteem

Regular exercise, including running, is associated with improved mood and increased self-esteem.

The act of achieving running goals can further contribute to feelings of confidence and positive self-perception.

Enhances cognitive function

Running promotes blood flow to the brain, which can improve cognitive function and memory.

It may also help protect against age-related cognitive decline.

Studies have shown that running helps to mitigate the effect of chronic stress on the brain particularly in the area of learning and memory. [14]  

The calories burned running a marathon can range from 2,620 to 4,716 depending on your weight and pace. 

Yes, training to run a marathon and running a marathon can help you lose weight. Maintain a healthy diet and also include fuelling strategy for your race. 

The average person burns about 100  to 180 calories per mile. The calories burned running a marathon can therefore range from 2,620 to about 4,716 (or more). 

The main factors include body weight, running pace, terrain and environment. 

Yes, training for a marathon can help you lose weight, especially if you are following a healthy, balanced diet. 

Sources

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