Let me ask you a quick question.
How long does it take for an average runner to run a 5K?
If you don’t know the exact answer, then you have come to the right place.
In today’s post, I’ll tackle the topic of how much time the average runner takes to run a 5K and how knowing this helps.
After all, whether you’re taking up running for the first time or looking to achieve a new personal best, it’s key to set realistic goals and plan accordingly.
What is The Average 5K Time?
First things first, how long is a 5K?.
5K stands for five kilometers, or 3.1 miles long race (since one mile equals 1.6 km).
Keep in mind mile markers are used on the racecourse instead of kilometers markers in the U.S.
Completing a 5K race is not a hard feat.
Most people in decent shape can do it, and you can also be one of them.
The Average 5K Pace
What’s a great time for one runner may be a setback for another.
All in all, the average running speed per mile during a 5K race is roughly 11-minute for men and 13-minute for women, resulting in finish times at about 35 and 42 minutes.
The keyword here is a beginner.
For runners with years of experience under their belts, they may be able to run a 7- or 8-minute mile pace, completing the race in about 20 to 25 minutes.
The average 5K time will also depend on several factors, such as gender, age, speed, and fitness level.
Let’s explain a few.
In general, men are faster than women.
Therefore male runners will finish more quickly than female runners.
If you’re a complete beginner, you can use the national average statistics in the tables below to get a rough idea of your performance results.
2018 National Average 5K Times
|0 to 20||39:18||32:02|
|20 to 29||38:59||33:15|
|30 to 39||40:23||34:28|
|40 to 49||41:38||35:15|
|50 to 59||43:55||36:29|
Younger runners tend to run faster than the older ones.
Sure, an older runner with years of experience may outpace a younger beginner, but the young still holds a big advantage.
That’s why age-grading was invented, which is the ideal way to place all 5K competitors on a level playing field regardless of age and gender.
Use the following 5K norms as a guideline to determine roughly where you can expect to be as a beginner.
|0 to 15||34:43||37:55|
|16 to 19||29:39||37:39|
|20 to 24||29:27||36:22|
|25 to 29||31:09||36:16|
|30 to 34||31:27||38:41|
|35 to 39||33:44||37:21|
|40 to 44||32:26||38:26|
|45 to 49||33:13||39:19|
|50 to 54||34:30||41:20|
|55 to 59||37:33||45:18|
|60 to 64||40:33||45:49|
|65 to 99||42:59||50:13|
To estimate how long it takes to run the 3.1-mile distance, you’ll have to factor in your pace.
Let me give you some concrete examples:
- If you run a 6-minute mile 5K, you’ll finish it in minutes, seconds.
- If you run a 6-minute mile 5K, you’ll finish it in 18 minutes, 35 seconds.
- If you run an 8-minute mile 5K, you’ll finish it in 24 minutes, 48 seconds.
- If you run a 10-minute mile 5K, you’ll finish it in 31 minutes.
- If you run a 12-minute mile 5K, you’ll finish it in 37 minutes.
To Conclude – The Average 5K Finish Time For a Beginner
As a beginner runner, you may aim to complete a mile in roughly 10 to 12 minutes.
This means you’ll complete the race in roughly 30 to 40 minutes.
If you just took up running, you may be more comfortable doing a mix of running and walking to begin with.
Planning to walk the whole distance?
It’ll take you about 15 to 20 minutes to walk a mile.
If your brisk walk, you should able to complete a 5K at around one hour.
Average 5K Time For Intermediate
Intermediate runners, specifically those who run 15 to 20 miles per week and have been doing it for more than a year, can expect to clock in their 5K at around 22 to 25 minutes, which is roughly an average speed of 7- to 9-minute per mile over the course.
Average 5K Time For Advanced Runners
If you’re logging up to 50 miles per week and have been doing it for a relatively long time, then you’re an advanced runner.
Typical elite running plans involve plenty of speed work, such as intervals, and fartlek as well as distance running.
With proper training, it’s possible to finish a 5K race between 15 to 18 for men and 18 to 21 for women.
Of course, chances are you not gonna take the gold at this 5K pace, but you’re definitely at the top of the top when it comes to running competing in this distance.
And that, my friend, is a great achievement in itself.
Elite—World Record—5K Times
The average 5K time for advanced runners is under 16 minutes for men and 18 minutes for women.
As of 2020, the current IAAF world record time is held by Kenenisa Bekele at 12:37.35 for men, and at 14:11.15 minutes for women held by Tirunesh Dibaba.
If you already have experience running 5K races, then you can also rate yourself.
If you finish a 5K in:
- 12- to 14 -minute – You’re an Olympic level athlete.
- 14- to 18-minute – You’re one of the best runners in the world.
- 18- to 22-minute – You’re very competitive and faster enough.
- 22- to 25-minute – You are an average runner.
- 25- to 30-minute – You’re fit enough to run
- 30- to 40-minute – You’re a complete beginner
- Above 40 minutes – You are unfit but trying to run. We all have to start somewhere, right.
Measuring Your Pace
There are many tools you can use to help measure your paces, such as apps and fitness trackers that will monitor your speed and distance and keep it in a log.
You can also manually set your running pace if you’re training on a treadmill, then play around with it as you get fitter and stronger.
Improve Your 5K Times
Now that you know more about the event let’s look at some practical ways to help achieve your best 5K time.
Although the 5K is one of the relatively short races, the 3.1-mile distance is nothing to scoff at.
Try to run it with no experience, and you’ll soon realize that’s not actually as easy as it seems.
To make sure you train right for a 5K, do the following:
To get faster, focus on building up slowly over a few weeks or months.
Don’t try to chew more than you can swallow—or else you’re going to hurt yourself.
As a beginner, set aside at least 8 to 12 weeks of training before you stand on the starting line of the race.
In the early weeks, start with 20 to 30 minutes sessions at a slow pace, then gradually increase duration and intensity as you get more fit.
That’s the golden rule of getting fit without getting hurt.
The rest is just details.
I’d recommend that you start with a walk/run program, like this one. LINK.
Once you can run at a slow pace for 30 to 40 minutes without panting for air, start doing some interval training.
This method helps you exhaust your body by pushing yourself as hard as possible for a set time and then allow for a rest period.
One example is to do two minutes of running at a slightly faster 5K pace goal, followed by two minutes of slow jogging as recovery.
Perform this for five rounds for a total of 20 minutes.
Have A Pacing Strategy
Keeping a consistent pace is challenging during a race, especially when you add in factors such as racing vibe, other runners, terrain, fatigue, wind, etc.
For this reason, plan for a flexible pacing strategy to help you achieve your average goal pace.
The strategy I’d recommend is to do a negative split—this means running the second of the race faster than the first.
It’s actually quite easy.
All you have to do is to start the race easy, then finish it strong, but do it in a planned and well-thought-out manner.
Here’s a breakdown for a 10:00 mine per mile average pace
- Mile One – 10:30 MPH
- Mile Two – 10:00 MPH
- Mile Three – 9:30 MPH
- The last portion (0.11 mile) – As Fast As You Can
To conclude, whatever your finish time is, that’s a good 5K rime.
What’s fantastic for one runner may be a setback for another.
No size fits all.
Every runner is different and has different goals and fitness levels.