How Long Does it Take to Run a 5k?

If you want to get into running, running a 5k is a very realistic goal. As a new runner, it should take a few dedicated months to get yourself in shape so you can run the distance. 

However, it can be a pretty daunting goal, and it can be pretty overwhelming to think about how you can achieve it. Below are the average run times for a 5k, average paces and some useful tips on how you can improve your run time. 

Average 5k Time by Age and Sex 

When it comes to running 5k, there are several factors alongside your fitness level that can affect your average time, such as your age and your gender. Take a look at the average times below: 

Age (Years)MaleFemale 
1-1421:2424:43
15-1918:5723:06
20-2917:4920:58
30-3918:0220:49
40-4919:0222:19
50-5920:0225:11
60-6923:0527:47
70+28:2738:25

These times are from Meteor.Run 5k statistics.

Calculating Your 5k Time Based on Your Pace 

To figure out how quickly you’ll complete a 5k run, try using your pace to calculate an estimate. There are 3.12 miles in 5k. 

Use the following average paces to calculate how long it’ll take you: 

  • 6 minutes per mile: 18 minutes 35 seconds 
  • 8 minutes per mile: 24 minutes 48 seconds 
  • 10 minutes per mile: 31 minutes 
  • 12 minutes per mile: 37 minutes 
  • 15 minutes per mile: 46 minutes, 32 seconds 
  • 20 minutes per mile: 62 minutes

It’s worth noting that just because you can run a mile in a certain amount of time, it doesn’t mean that you’ll complete a 5k run in the estimated times. There are several factors you need to take into consideration.

For example, if you run on rough terrain that’ll slow you down. If it’s raining, that’ll slow you down. If you tire easily after a mile, that’ll slow you down. So if you find you are not hitting these predicted times, do not get disheartened – practice makes perfect, and so does the right conditions. 

In general, a good 5k finishing time is anything under 25 minutes, which averages at around 8 minutes a mile. 

Average Time for Beginners 

For those that are new to running, don’t worry if you cannot reach a sub 25 minute 5k on your first go. It’s hard to train your body to be able to do that. Most beginners should aim to run a mile in 9 to 13 minutes. 

To achieve a quicker time, make yourself a fitness plan that you can work on for a couple of weeks or months. Make sure you’re balancing your running routine with low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming – this will help build your fitness up. 

Preparation for Running a 5k 

If you’re planning on running a 5k, it’s important you’re getting the right nutrition. This includes having a diet that is rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. You need to make sure you’re also getting enough organic products, vegetables and fruits.

Try to cut out sweets, chocolate and liquor – if you’re struggling, consume them in moderation and gradually eliminate them from your diet. 

Another key part of preparing for a 5k run is to take your time getting there. You don’t want to overdo it too early and risk injuring yourself. Begin to slowly increase the distance you run, until you feel comfortable enough to go the distance.

For your first attempt, focus on finishing the 5k and try not to worry about your time so much – that’ll improve with training. Don’t feel like you’ve failed if you find you have to walk parts of the run, it’s all part of the process. 

If you are taking part in a 5k race, make a strategy to help you prepare. You’ll want to make sure you schedule a sufficient amount of time to train. As a beginner, it takes roughly seven to eight weeks of training to run a 5k race. 

Tips on How To Run Faster 

You won’t magically be able to run a 5k run in under 20 minutes without a lot of training. This is a long process, so don’t get disheartened if you’re making slow progress. To improve your running speed, build yourself up gradually over the course of a few weeks or months. 

A great way to build up being able to run longer distances is to do interval training. This is where you change the intensity, distance and time during your training. For example, as a beginner you can try running for 1 minute, and walking for 2 minutes. Repeat this throughout your run. 

During interval training you exhaust your muscles by working intensely for a set amount of time, which is followed by a lighter recovery period. 

If you’re a more advanced runner, try running at a higher speed for two to five minute periods, followed by an equal amount of time jogging. Try this for four to six sets. 

As mentioned previously, changing your diet, and resting (sleep) properly can make such a difference in your fitness. 

Here are some more tips to help improve your speed: 

  • Mix in some strength training with your running routine. This will help loosen you up and improve your flexibility. 
  • Improve your balance and coordination by walking and running with high knees, butt kicks, skipping drills and inseam pulls. 
  • Make sure you always warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before you start running. Also do a cool down at the end of your run to prevent any muscle soreness. 
  • Try yoga or dancing at least once a week – this will get your body used to moving in different ways. 
  • Give yourself at least one rest day per week. This means doing absolutely no exercise, giving your body a chance to recover. You should also take recovery days where you participate in gentle, moderate exercise. 

Did You Know…

The world’s fastest recorded 5k time was 12 minutes and 51 seconds by the Ugandan long-distance runner Joshua Chepetegei, in February 2020. 

The world’s fastest female recorded 5k time was 14 minutes and 32 seconds by the Kenyan long-distance runner Joyciline Jepkosgei, in September 2017. 

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