What is a Good 5K Time for a Beginner

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

What’s a good 5K time for a beginner?

The answer isn’t black or white as it depends on several things.

Here’s the truth.

Running a 5K is a wonderful goal that’s great for those who are just getting into running and simply want to cross the finish line for the first time.

Even if you have never run a mile, you can probably get in shape for a 5K within a few weeks by devoting yourself to the right training program.

In today’s sweet post, I’ll answer the question and discuss those numbers of things in detail. I’ll also share a few tips for beginner 5K runners, including how to prepare for the event and what to do on race day.

How Long is A 5K?

The 5K is the most common road race distance for beginner and experienced runners, but how far is it?

To wrap your head around what a good 5K time is, you also need to understand just how far is a 5K race.

The “K” in 5K stands for kilometer. One kilometer is a little more than a half-mile, or 0.621 miles. Therefore, after doing some math, a 5K equals 3.1 miles.

It would take around 22.5 laps around an outdoor track to complete a 5K. Similarly, you’d need to run back and forth on a football field around 50 times to cover the 3.1-mile distance. So that’s one more reason you shouldn’t underestimate this race.

When running a 5K in the U.S., you’ll find mile markers—instead of kilometer markers—along the course.

What is A Good 5K Time For a beginner?

So how long does the average runner take to complete a 5K?

30 minutes?

50 minutes?

Two hours?

The answer, as you might already have guessed, depends on many variables such as your age, training level, and gender.

But all in all, most beginners can complete a 5K in 30 to 40 minutes, and most newbies are pretty satisfied if their finish time is around this benchmark.

A very good finish time for a beginner is anything under 25 minutes, which means maintaining an 8-minute-mile pace throughout the event. However, if this is your first time, shooting for an 8-min/pace is quite aggressive—and might be out of your grasp.

Keep in mind that if you walk, you will finish a 5k in around 50 to 60 minutes.

Common 5K Times

As you can already tell, 5K times will vastly differ among runners depending on fitness level, running experience, age, the elevation of the course, etc.

But here are some broad ideas to get started on the right foot.

Average For Intermediate Runners

For the intermediate runner, or those who log 15 to 20 miles for at least six consecutive months, an average 5K finish time would be roughly 20 to 25 minutes. This equals around an average speed of roughly 7 to 9 miles per hour over the course.

Those looking to improve their 5K time may benefit from adding tempo training and speedwork into their running program to help improve both endurance and pace.

Additional resource – How to promote a 5K

Average For Elite Runners

The best and fastest runner can finish a 5K between 15 and 17 minutes, which works out at a 4-50 minute mile pace to  XX mile pace.

Advanced runners, or those logging over 20 miles per week for at least one year, may finish a 5K within 15 to 20 minutes—age and genetic ability being the BIG factors.

The World Records

The world record for the 5K is at 12:37.35 minutes for men, held by Kenenisa Bekele –That’s super fast. As for the women’s record currently stands at 14:11.15 minutes and is held by Tirunesh Dibaba. Again, that’s fast.

Your Beginner 5K Time

Please keep in mind that these are just estimates. Several factors will influence your race time—some of which you have zero control over.

For starters, your age, gender, and physiology are all factors that will impact your 5K finish time, but you can’t change them.

Some people are natural-born runners and have physiques conducive to running. In contrast, others are better built for strength training and other athletic endeavors, so don’t worry too much about this.

What’s more?

Race, terrain, and weather will also play a drastic role. If the race course has a significant elevation profile, it will be more challenging for you to run fast than if it” super flat.

By the same token, if you race in the heat or extreme cold, this will influence your finish time.

Additional Resource – Here’s how many miles should a beginner run

Your Goal As A Beginner Running your First 5K

Although the 5K is the shortest distance of any road race, it’s as s huge milestone, especially among beginner runners.

When you’re a beginner, your main goal should be to build up your endurance to run the whole 3.1-mile distance. You can worry about performance and finish times after.

A beginner runner? Try this couch to 5K plan.

The Tables Of Average 5K Times

Here’s a list of top averages for male and female runners across all categories.

Keep in mind that other countries, as in the rest of the world, use the metric system, so I’ll be using the minute per kilometer to refer to pace. The minute per mile is standard in the U.S.

Age-Group Runners

Runners outside the professional or elite category are often referred to as “age group runners.”

You’ll notice a quite of difference in finish time within the groups. This is because some age group runners may have trained competitively in the past or were college runners. Therefore, they’re likely to cross the finish line at super competitive times.


Age groupMenWomen
0 to 1534:4337:55
16 to 1929:3937:39
20 to 2429:2736:22
25 to 2931:0936:16
30 to 3431:2738:41
35 to 3933:4437:21
40 to 4432:2638:26
45 to 4933:1339:19
50 to 5434:3041:20
55 to 5937:3345:18
60 to 6440:3345:49
65 to 9942:5950:13


What is a good 5K time for 40 year old?


Age groupTime (minutes and seconds)

Pace And 5K times. Let’s check different 5K times by pace. These are usually times runners aim to achieve—or just get under.


  • 5 min/mile – 15:32
  • 6 min/mile – 18:38
  • 7 min/mile – 21:45
  • 8 min/mile – 24:51
  • 9 min/mile – 27:58
  • 10 min/mile – 31:04
  • 11 min/mile – 34:11
  • 12 min/mile – 37:17


5K Training Plans

To make sure you train right for your 5K, choose one of the following plans to get you started on the right foot.

What is a Good 5K Time for a Beginner -The Conclusion

In the end, what makes a good 5K finish time for a beginner will vary drastically depending on your age, experience, and overall health.

If you’re running your first 5K, don’t worry too much about the finish time. Instead, focus on having a good time, living in the moment, and crossing the finish line—hopefully in one piece. The rest is just details.

As a general guideline, any 5K time under 30 minutes for a beginner (or an old runner) is good, while a sub-25 minute 5K is really, really, good for a newbie.

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