RubmdReviewFitness Challenge: How Long Does It Take to Walk 13 Miles?

Fitness Challenge: How Long Does It Take to Walk 13 Miles?

Walking 13 miles is quite an ambitious feat that requires planning, preparation and dedication. Whether you’re an avid walker gearing up for a half marathon or going on a long backpacking trip, knowing what to expect time-wise for a 13 mile walk is key.

Average Time to Walk 13 Miles

So how long does it actually take the average person to walk 13 miles?

The average time to walk 13 miles is 4 hours and 10 minutes to 5 hours, depending on age, fitness level, terrain, walking speed and other factors.

Professional racewalkers can complete 13 miles quite faster in under 2 hours, while new walkers or hikers may need closer to 6-7 hours to finish the full distance.

As a benchmark, here are some general timeframes to complete a 13 mile walk by fitness level:

  • Highly Trained Walker: 3 hours
  • Fit Walker: 4 hours
  • Recreational Walker: 5 hours
  • Beginner Walker: 6+ hours

The actual duration of your 13 mile walk could be shorter or longer depending on your individual fitness abilities. Let’s look at some of the key factors that affect walking times over long distances.

Factors That Impact Your 13 Mile Walk Time

How quickly you’re able to walk 13 miles depends on a variety of physiological and external variables including:

Age and Fitness Level

Your age and baseline level of cardiovascular fitness significantly influences walking paces and endurance.

Younger, fit adults can walk farther and faster more easily than deconditioned or elderly individuals. Fitness activities like running, hiking and strength training lead to greater walking stamina over time.

Those newer to long distance walking need to pace themselves appropriately and take more frequent breaks when starting out.

Terrain and Elevation

The type of terrain and elevation changes you encounter plays a big role in 13 mile walk times.

Walking on a flat, paved surface like a running track is much faster and easier than variable mountain trails or hiking in sand, mud or snow.

Steep hills and high elevation gain will intensify the workout and generally slow pace over long distances. Plan for a slower 13 mile walk if tackling major elevation changes.

Weight Carried

The amount of extra weight you carry impacts walking speed and effort.

Hikers with heavy backpacks will walk slower over 13 miles than those on a casual neighborhood stroll with no weight. Go as light as possible for faster times.

Weather Conditions

Environmental factors like heat, humidity, wind and precipitation make walking more challenging and influence pace.

Extreme cold, rain or snow may necessitate cold weather gear that also adds weight and restricts movement. Plan for a slower walk in poor conditions.

Walking Speed

Your walking pace per mile makes a major difference in how long it takes to complete 13 miles.

The average recreational walker moves at 15-20 minutes per mile. Racewalkers can get below 15 minutes per mile, while beginners sometimes start around 25 minutes/mile or more.

Tracking your average mile pace helps estimate finish times over long distances. More on pacing strategies later!

Break Frequency and Duration

How often you take breaks and how long the breaks last modifies total walk duration.

Taking a break every 1-2 miles to recover will add time compared to powering through all 13 miles swiftly. But sufficient rest when needed can improve overall time for many.

Now that we’ve covered the key variables around walking 13 miles, let’s talk preparation!

Training to Walk 13 Miles

Improving your cardiovascular endurance with some focused training will help prepare both physically and mentally for the challenge of walking 13 miles.

Here are 5 tips:

1. Start Slowly and Gradually Increase Weekly Mileage

Allow your body time to adapt to long distance walking by increasing mileage no more than 10% per week. Slowly build up from your current baseline to avoid overuse injury.

2. Incorporate Hill Training

Find routes with short hills 2-3 times per week to build strength and resilience for variable terrain. Check out hike routes nearby or use treadmill incline.

3. Try Fartlek Walking

Fartlek, meaning “speed play” in Swedish, involves alternating faster walking intervals with recovery to more closely mimic hiking terrain. Shoot for 4-6 weeks of Fartlek walks preparing for your goal event.

4. Strengthen Your Core and Lower Body

Engage in strength training 2-3 days a week to develop the endurance and power in your core, glutes, quads and calves needed for long miles.

5. Break In Hiking Shoes/Boots

Wear whatever footwear you plan to tackle 13 miles in on shorter weekly walks to minimize blister risk. Having properly broken in shoes or boots is pivotal.

Starting a solid training block 4-6 weeks out from your planned 13 mile walk gives your body and mind the specific preparation needed to succeed.

What to Wear and Bring on a 13 Mile Walk

Having the proper gear and essential supplies during your long-distance walk will keep you comfortable, fueled and minimize injury so pay close attention to packing needs.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Moisture-wicking socks and breathable walking shoes or boots are key to prevent painful blisters or hot spots.
  • Wear moisture-wicking base layers to keep skin dry and comfortable for hours of movement.
  • Pack a lightweight, breathable windproof jacket to quickly add warmth if weather shifts.
  • Wide-brimmed hats shield from both sun and windchill depending on conditions.
  • Don’t forget sunglasses to protect eyes and visualize trail obstacles.
  • Change into dry socks and insoles at halfway mark to revive weary feet.

Hydration and Nutrition

  • Carry enough water to facilitate 10-12 oz every 20-30 minutes of moving. Electrolyte tabs like Nuun improve absorption.
  • Energy gels, chews, bars and real food snacks provide carb fuel to keep energy levels consistent.
  • Electrolyte supplements replace depleted salts to avoid painful cramping later in long walks.

Safety and Navigation

  • Always carry ID, emergency cash, insurance card and contact list in case of accident far from help.
  • Whistle allows signaling for emergency assistance if injured.
  • Bear spray gives protection if wildlife encounters occur in remote areas.
  • Have backup Charged phone, navigation app, map and compass to avoid getting lost if alone. Let someone know your route plan too.
  • First aid supplies include moleskin or blister bandages, antiseptic, pain-relievers, etc.

Proper preparation with your clothing, nutrition, safety and navigations tools is the best way to avoid issues on very long walks in remote areas.

Now let’s get into the walking itself!

Walking Technique and Pacing Yourself

Moving efficiently over 13 miles requires awareness regarding technique, posture, pacing and conserving energy.

Here are 5 tips:

  • Optimize Posture: Walk tall with engaged core and shoulders back to breathe freely and minimize back, shoulder or neck tightness. Shake arms loose periodically.
  • Lean Forward Slightly: Leaning slightly forward from ankles (not waist) puts center of gravity ahead reducing strain on calves and maximizing efficiency.
  • Use Trekking Poles: Trekking poles provide stability, absorb impact reducing leg fatigue and distribute workload across upper body. Practice tempo with opposite arm and leg.
  • Land on Mid-Foot: Heel striking wastes energy and causes more shock up legs. Land mid-to-forefoot instead with bent knees to roll smoothly through.
  • Short and Quick Stride: Overstriding strains muscles more with slight bend in knee better allowing spring contraaction and toe push off.

In addition to strong walking mechanics, monitoring your pace and effort is key to avoiding exhaustion before the finish line. Let’s explore pacing next.

Pacing Your 13 Mile Walk

The ability to accurately judge exertion levels and adjust speed accordingly over long distances only comes with time and experience. Expect some trial and error determining optimal intensities that aren’t too ambitious or conservative.

Here are some best practice pacing tips for your 13 mile walk:

1. Know Your Average Base Walking Pace

Use a GPS watch, fitness tracker or running app to figure out your regular training walk pace per mile. This provides a baseline comparison when fatigued.

2. Start Conservatively Slow

It’s very tempting to jump ahead fast at the start when feeling fresh but speed inevitably slows. Be patient and hold back early.

3. Monitor Breathing and Perceived Exertion

Learn how various efforts feel using a scale like Rate of Perceived Exertion or breathing control check-ins to evaluate pacing frequently.

4. Power Hike Uphills

Walk with purpose up inclines by pumping arms and shortening strides then recover Heartrate cresting top before next push downhill without braking stride.

5. For Last 3 Miles – “False Summit”

Once entering final miles, maintain effort like finishing uphill to avoid fully tapping reserves too soon leading to walks finish crash.

Checking your watch more frequently ensures even pacing adjustments as needed based on real-time feedback your body provides. Next let’s talk about optimizing breaks.

Taking Breaks and Refueling on a 13 Mile Walk

While completing the 13 mile distance swiftly is often the goal, well-timed breaks enhance safety, comfort and energy efficiency.

Here are some smart strategies around stopping points:

1. Schedule Break Frequency Upfront

Decide mileage intervals for short 1-3 minute breaks accounting for extra time in goal pace. Consume snacks then walk immediately before stiffening.

2. Choose Smart Locations

Break areas should offer water access, shade coverage, medical options or navigation recalibration. Scout potential spots using maps beforehand when possible.

3. Prioritize Blister Care

Address hot spots quick before blisters form. Carry protection patches, bandages, scissors, needles and use breaks wisely to intervene early preventing bigger issues down road.

4. Swap Gear and Reload Supplies

Use pack breaks to apply sunscreen, grab extra food, add/remove layers, swap wet socks and reconfigure gear needs looking forward. Prepare items ahead.

5. Finish With Reserves Left

End each segment before surpassing 3-4 perceived effort to enable pushing harder next segment and finish with gas left in tank for errors or weather risks.

Taking calculated stops disrupted the rhythm yet replenishes energy so balancing distance chunks with recharging wins long term.

Recovery after completing 13 miles is just as important as the preparation beforehand so let’s discuss best practices for that next.

Recovery After a 13 Mile Walk

The hours and days succeeding long endurance workouts like 13 mile walks are pivotal windows for physical and mental recovery.

Here are 5 techniques to bounce back stronger:

10 Minute Cool DownWalk slowly first 10 minutes post event to clear waste, slowly lower heart rate and improve next day soreness. Stretch major groups after.
Hydrate and RefuelFocus on replacing electrolytes first with sports drinks then follow with 20-30 grams protein to repair stressed muscles plus quality carbs to restore glycogen energy.
Use Compression Socks/SleevesWearing snug compression socks or sleeves improves circulation delivering nutrients faster to fatigued tissues. Wear beyond workout for amplified effects.
Alternate Cold/Heat TherapyTaking contrast temp showers or alternating ice bath and heating pad sessions on legs stimulates blood flow removing inflammatory waste products speeding recovery.
Schedule Rest DaysHonor 1-2 easier days to allow 365 fascia release, enzyme activation and psychological recharge even if no soreness. Light yoga/pilates recommended.

Paying close attention to active cooling down, nutrition intake, gear recovery aids, temp therapy modalities and rest days guides your body’s resilience.

Health Benefits and Risks of Walking 13 Miles


  • Improved cardiovascular fitness: Walking long distances progressively trains your heart and lungs. It can reduce risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Increased endurance: The body adapts by building more capillaries to muscles, increasing number of red blood cells, etc. These enhance oxygen delivery making future exercise easier.
  • Weight management: Brisk walking for long durations burns significant calories aiding weight loss and maintenance if nutrition supports it.
  • Reduced disease risk: Studies associate higher physical activity levels with lower incidence rates of diabetes, certain cancers, depression and cognitive decline.
  • Better mobility through life: Weight bearing activity strengthens bones, joints, ligaments improving flexibility and preventing loss of functional strength over time. Walking is low impact.


  • Overuse injuries: Tricep shin splints, plantar fasciitis, hip/knee pain and stress fractures are more common with rapid mileage increase. Build gradually and include strength training.
  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid and electrolyte replacement through lengthy exercise negatively impacts cardiovascular and nervous systems. Always rehydrate appropriately.
  • Hypoglycemia or “bonking”: Mounting mileage depleted glycogen energy stores causing blood sugar crash if fueling improperly for duration and intensity of effort. Time nutrition wisely.

With proper preparation, restraint from overdoing distances beyond current ability, attention to refueling requirements and dedication to sufficient recovery protocols walking 13 miles provide substantial benefits with minimal downside. Monitor body closely and consult physician with any concerns.


How many steps is 13 miles?

Most people take between 25,000 to 30,000 steps to walk 13 miles though it varies based on factors like height and stride length.

Is it better to run or walk 13 miles?

It depends on your goals. Walking is lower impact while running burns more calories in less time. For beginners, walk/running intervals may be best to progressively build endurance.

What should I eat before walking 13 miles?

Eat a mix of complex carbs, fiber and protein 3-4 hours pre-walk to provide slow burning fuel like oatmeal with banana and peanut butter. Top off carb stores the night before too.

What should I eat while walking 13 miles?

Every 45-60 mins eat about 30-60g carbs via snacks like energy gels, chews, nuts, dried fruit to replenish lost glycogen. Hydrate with water and electrolytes.

How early should you start training for a 13 mile walk?

Begin training 12-16 weeks out gradually increasing weekly long walk mileage by 10% or less aiming for completing 8-10 mile walk 2-3 weeks prior.

How long does it take recover from walking 13 miles?

Recovery timeline varies but expect residual muscle soreness and fatigue up to 72 hours after. Support recovery with stretching, compression, hydration, nutrition and rest days.

Will walking 13 miles tone my legs?

Yes, combining long walks with strength training 2-3 days per week will build definition and muscle endurance over time. Squats, lunges and deadlifts are great complementary exercises.

Final Thoughts

Walking 13 miles is quite an impressive feat of mental and physical endurance. Being prepared with the right gear, pacing know-how, mid-event refueling protocol and recovery techniques goes a long way towards success.

Always respect the distance and demands challenges like half marathons place on the body by training wisely and checking ego. Relish accomplishments completing 13 mile mark.

We covered a lot of ground detailing the average time for a 13 mile walk plus tactics to improve your pace and enjoyment on long treks. Hopefully the journey enriched your perspective and capabilities.

Now it’s time to put one foot in front of the other on your next long walk stronger and wiser. You got this! Just remember to appreciate surroundings not just destination rewarding all efforts forward especially on tough days.

Happy trails blazing your optimal path! Let us know if any other questions come up on your adventure ahead and enjoy the view.

Team RubMD
Team RubMD
RubMD Team is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy information on healthcare-related topics to our readers. We strive to maintain the highest standards of accuracy, professionalism, and ethical conduct in all our content.

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