Looking for practical answers on how long does it take to run a mile? Then you have come to the right place
Whether you’re a beginner runner or an elite marathoner, the average time to run a mile is likely one of those statistics you keep track of.
Monitoring this pace is a fantastic way to track your progress and speed while training.
But working out a one-size-fits-all average for the mile can be problematic.
As you might already know, mile speed depends on several factors.
In today’s article, I’m going to dive deep into the average mile time as well as how to improve it.
I’m also going to consider the different factors that affect your running speed.
Let’s lace up and dig in.
How Long Does It Take To Run A Mile?
According to data from more than 300 million runs inputted into Strava in 2018, the average running pace around the world is 9 minutes and 48 seconds (9:48).
The number varies from men to women—9:15 for men and 10:40 for women.
According to the same source, the average running pace in the US is 9:44 overall, with roughly 9:07 for men and 10:21 for women.
Don’t worry if your current average pace is a little bit higher than those marks.
The strava community encompasses runners from all levels and backgrounds—beginner runners only make a small portion.
Average Time to Run a Mile For A Beginner Runner
Here’s the ballpark if you want a rough estimate: a beginner runner is expected to run a mile in 10 to 15 minutes, or four to five miles an hour.
The Factors That Impact Average Mile Time
How long does it take to run a mile depends on several factors, including your age, gender, fitness level, and genetics.
Let’s break down the essentials:
Age impacts running speed as most people can run their fastest between the ages of 18 and 30.
Don’t take my word for it.
Male runners in the 16 to 19 years old range finished the race with an average pace of 9.34.
Females within the same age group finished in 12:09.
The finishing times go up gradually as the age group got older.
Here’s a chart showing the average running speed per mile in a 5K (from the same source).
Average running speed per mile in a 5K
|Age||Men (minutes per mile)||Women (minutes per mile)|
Gender and Average Mile Time
Gender is another factor that influences how fast you run one mile—or 12 miles—with men being faster than women.
This speed disparity may come down to muscle mass.
In general, having more fast-twitch muscles in the lower body increases running speed.
Additional resource – Average time to walk a mile
Although age and gender are not under your control, you have a lot of say over your level of fitness.
Research shows that non-elite but relatively in-shape runners typically run one mile in 9 to 10 minutes, on average.
If you just took up running, you might finish one mile in closer to 12 to 15 minutes as you build up your endurance.
Additional resource – How To Run An 8-Minute Mile?
Even your mindset and emotional state can impact your average time to run a mile, and that’s too under your control (with proper training).
Weather and temperature can also impact how you run.
If it’s cold, you might run your fastest.
It takes significantly longer to run a mile when it’s hotter.
All in all, the temperature sweet spot for running is in the range of 50 to 56 degrees, with zero wind and no rain.
Average Mile Time And Elite Runners
An elite runner can clock in a mile at roughly 4 to 5 minutes.
At the time of writing this (December 2020), the world record for men is a staggering 3:43:13 for one mile set by Hicham El Guerrouj, Moroccan athlete, in 1999.
In general, anything under four minutes is very, very, fast for men and under five minutes a mile for women is very, very fast!
Of course, recreational runners, just like you and I, will never come anywhere close to these times, but there are plenty of things we can do to improve our times for the mile distance.
Let’s look at a few.
Fact: The legendary Sir Roger Bannister was the first recorded human to run a sub-four-minute mile.
Up to that time, many pundits believed that it’s impossible for the human body to break the 4-minute mile.
How to Improve Your Average Mile Time
Regardless of your current mile speed number, there are many things you can do right now to improve your average mile run time.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Start slow. If you’ve zero running experience, don’t try running a mile as fast as you can—you might not even make it to the end. Instead, make it a goal to first run a mile without stopping.
- Progress gradually. Respect the 10 percent law, increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
- Get ready. Start every run with a proper 10-minute warm-up, then finish it with another 10-minute for a cool down.
- Stay safe. Avoid wearing headphones when running on roads. Stay visible. Run against traffic. And follow all rules of the road.
- Have your fluids. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day—not just around your runs.
- Have the right running shoes. Head to your local running store and ask the staff there for technical advice on pick a pair that best matches your style and goals.
- Run other distances. The best way to improve your endurance and speed for the mile is to run longer distances as a part of your running plan. As a rule, make one of your weekly sessions a longer run than the rest.
- Well-rounded training. Perform a variety of running workouts, including easy runs, long runs, interval runs, fartlek, and long runs.
- Supplement your road miles. Cross-train at least twice a week. I’d recommend strength training and yoga to keep your muscles challenged and flexible.
- Stay consistent. That’s the only way for you to keep improving on a regular basis.
What makes a good mile time for a beginner can vary depending on your starting point. That’s why the average time to run a mile varies across runners of different ages, skills, gender and fitness levels.
If you’re an average runner, you should be really satisfied when you can clock in your mile within 9 to 10 minutes. Otherwise, start at wherever you’re at and keep on improving. The rest is just details.