How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a Marathon 2024: Surprising Facts

Lace up your running shoes and prepare for the long haul with “How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a Marathon: Surprising Facts,” revealing the impressive energy expenditure of this 26.2-mile challenge.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a Marathon

A marathon route with distance markers, a stopwatch, and a calorie counter display

Calories are the units of energy that your body uses to fuel each movement, from breathing to sprinting. When you’re running, your body burns more calories than many other activities because it requires significant energy.

The faster and longer you run, the more calories you burn. But it’s not just about duration and pace; other elements are at play.

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): Even at rest, your body needs energy for all its hidden functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, and repairing cells. This is known as your BMR.
  • Running Pace: This is crucial; a 5 mph pace burns fewer calories than a 7.5 mph pace. The faster your legs are pumping, the more calories are consumed.

Key Factors Influencing Calorie Burn

  • Body Weight and Mass: The more you weigh, the more calories you burn while running, due to the greater effort required to move your body.
  • Metabolism: Each person’s metabolism differs, causing some to burn calories more quickly than others.
  • Terrain and Difficulty: Running uphill or on uneven surfaces can increase calorie burn because your body works harder to overcome gravity and maintain balance.
Body WeightEstimated Calories Burned per Hour (5mph)
140 pounds (approx.)555
155 pounds (approx.)792
200 pounds (approx.)792

Running a Marathon

Caloric Expenditure During a Marathon

Running a marathon is a massive expenditure of energy, and the number of calories you burn directly reflects this endurance challenge. The caloric burn from a marathon can be quite substantial, and here’s how it breaks down for different runners:

  • Weight: Your body weight has a linear relationship with the number of calories burned; the heavier you are, the more calories you expend.
  • Age: Younger runners typically have a higher metabolism, which can affect caloric burn.
  • Sex/Gender: On average, men may burn more calories than women due to larger body size and muscle mass.
  • Body Composition: Muscular runners might burn calories more efficiently, as muscle tissue consumes more energy than fat.
  • Fitness Level: More fit runners often run more efficiently, which can lead to a lower calorie burn for the same distance.

Here’s a quick reference based on weight and pace:

Weight5 mph (12 min/mile)7.5 mph (8 min/mile)10 mph (6 min/mile)
155 lbs576 calories/hr900 calories/hr1124 calories/hr
200 lbs792 calories/hr
Note: Calorie estimations are per hour and can vary based on individual differences.   

Marathon Running by the Numbers

Let’s put marathon running into perspective with some numbers:

  • Distance: 26.2 miles or approximately 42.195 kilometers.
  • Average Finish Time: According to recent data, the average marathon finish time is around 4.5 hours for men and 4.8 hours for women.
  • Calories Burned: Depending on your weight and speed, you could burn anywhere from 2,000 to over 3,500 calories for the entire marathon.

To further illustrate, here are some sample calculations based on average pace and two different weights:

  • At 6 mph (10 min/mile), a 155-pound person might burn around 3,600 calories during a marathon.
  • At the same pace, a 200-pound person might burn over 4,500 calories.

Maximizing Calorie Burn

Efficiency and Running Techniques

Mastering efficient running techniques can significantly enhance the number of calories you burn. By optimizing your form and practicing interval training, you engage more muscles and boost your metabolism, leading to increased calorie expenditure. Consider incorporating these tactics:

  • Interval Training: Mix short bursts of high-intensity running with your standard pace.
  • Running Uphill: Add hill repeats to your routine. This can help you overcome a weight loss plateau by challenging your body and burning more calories.

Diet and Refueling Strategies

Your meal plan is pivotal regarding how effectively you can burn calories and refuel your body. Proper diet strategies ensure you have the energy to perform and replenish nutrients post-run. You should:

  • Pre-Run: Consume a balanced meal with a mix of carbohydrates and proteins roughly 2 to 3 hours before running.
  • Post-Run: Right after the marathon, focus on protein-rich foods to aid muscle recovery and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores.


How many calories would you burn in a marathon?

Depending on your weight and pace, you would burn approximately 2,600 to 3,500 calories running a marathon.

Do marathon runners burn fat?

Yes, marathon runners burn fat. Their bodies use fat stores for energy once glycogen reserves are depleted during long-distance runs.

How many calories does a 10k run burn?

A 10k run typically burns between 600 to 700 calories, influenced by your weight and running speed.

How many calories do you burn in a 4 hour marathon?

In a 4-hour marathon, you could burn around 2,400 to 3,200 calories, based on an average burn rate of 100 calories per mile.

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