Whether you’re new to running or you’re a seasoned pro, the first step in your running journey will probably be running a 5k.
Many runners will agree that the 5k is the perfect running distance as it offers a good mix of endurance, speed and stamina.
Unlike a half marathon or marathon, it’s not a race that you have to train weeks if not months for, but you have to possess a good base level of fitness before attempting.
Many runners choose it as their first race distance and go on to complete 10k, half marathon and marathon race distances.
If you’re training for your first 5k, you may be wondering: “How many miles is a 5k?”
In this guide we’ll answer this question and we’ll offer tips and advice on training for a 5k and preparing for race day.
In this guide we’ll explore:
- 5k in miles: How many miles is a 5k?
- What is a good 5k time by age and gender?
- What is the average pace for a 5k?
- How to train for a 5k
- How to run a 5k
- 5k race day tips
Let’s get going!
5k in miles: How many miles is a 5k?
A 5k in miles is 3.1 miles.
This is exactly half the distance of a 10k which is 6.2 miles.
Related: How to run your first 5k
What is a good 5k time by age and gender?
Your age, gender, fitness levels and running experience can all impact your race time.
Even factors like the weather, terrain and how you feel on the day can affect your time.
Average 5k times by age and gender
Here are the average race times by age and gender:
|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||32:36||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 69||42:59||50:13|
What is the average pace for a 5k?
According to Run Repeat, the average male pace for a 5k run is 7:04 minutes per mile, and the average female pace is 8:18 minutes per mile.
The average pace for a 5k run tends to be slower than the 10k and half marathon because this the 5k is the entry distance for a lot of new runners.
It’s worth noting however that how fast you run completely depends on your running experience, fitness levels and your race goals.
To run a sub-30 minute 5k, for example, you will need to be able to run at a pace of 9:40 minutes per mile for the full 5k/3.1 mile distance.
To work out how fast you should be running to achieve an even faster time, I suggest you use a running pace calculator.
This will allow you to determine your pace per mile for a given distance based on at least two variables, such as pace, time or distance.
You can also use the below 5k pace chart to work out your desired race pace:
5k pace chart
|5k pace (mins per mile)||5k race time|
How to train for a 5k
The best place to start when you decide to run a 5k is to find a 5k training plan.
Depending on your running experience, fitness levels and running goals.
For example, if you’ve never run a 5k before, it will be wise to choose a beginner-friendly training plan.
Whereas if you’ve got multiple race distances under your belt and you’re looking to improve your 5k time, then an intermediate or advanced 5k training plan will be for you.
Here are four core 5k training plans:
- Couch to 5k training plan
- Beginner 5k training plan
- Intermediate 5k training plan
- Advanced 5k training plan
Couch to 5k training plan
If you’re new to running, the Couch to 5k training plan is a really great way to slowly ease you into the habit of running.
This plan combines running and walking and normally lasts between 9 to 12 weeks depending on the training plan you go for.
By the end of the plan, you should be able to run for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace without stopping.
This is a great place from which to grow and then go onto run your first 5k.
If you have completed Couch to 5k recently, you can expect to run a 5k in between 32 and 40 minutes.
Beginner 5k training plan
If you’ve been running for a few months now, or have recently completed the Couch to 5k training plan, then a beginner 5k training plan is for you.
Many runners start with a beginner plan when they are attempting to run their first 5k race.
A beginner runner can expect to run a 5k in between 27 and 33 minutes.
Intermediate 5k training plan
If you’ve been running for several years and want to shave some valuable seconds of your 5k PB, then an intermediate 5k training plan is right for you.
An intermediate 5k training plan will include a mixture of runs and workouts that are designed to increase your speed so you can run a faster 5k.
When combined with your weekly runs, speed training has the potential to reduce your race times substantially.
An intermediate runner can expect to run a 5k in between 23 and 29 minutes.
Advanced 5k training plan
If you’ve been running for a number of years and you’ve run multiple race distances like the 10k and half marathon, then an advanced 5k training plan is perfect for you.
Similar to the intermediate plan, an advanced training plan will get you doing runs and workouts each week that are designed to improve your speed and strength as a runner.
An advanced runner can expect to run a 5k in between 20 to 25 minutes.
How to run a 5k
There are plenty of ways to run your first 5k:
Parkrun is a great way to experience your first 5k.
Held every Saturday morning at 9am across the country, you’re bound to find one that suits your needs.
Even better, it’s free and there’s no pressure to run fast so it’s a great event for novice and beginner runners.
Run Race for Life
Race for Life holds 5k and 10k races throughout the year.
You can find an up to date list of their races on their website.
Run a local route
Sign up for a 5k race
Find A Race allows you to check the 5k races near you.
Active.com also offers a directory of 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon races.
Related: How to run a 5k in under 20 minutes
5k race day tips
Here are some race day tips to make your race a success:
#1 Get a good night’s sleep
Running a 5k is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time, especially if it’s your first race.
All your hard work and training will prepare you for race day, but it’s natural to get pre-race jitters.
The best you can do is get a good night’s sleep and try and rest your legs in the 48 hours leading up to your race.
#2 Refuel and hydrate
Eat well and stay hydrated in the lead up to the race as well as on race day itself.
Aim to get most of your fuel from carbohydrates and protein during training.
On the morning of the race itself, eat a light snack like a bagel with peanut butter or sports bar – you don’t want to consume anything that sits too heavy on your stomach.
Some runners opt to have a morning coffee alone if they cannot stomach eating early in the morning.
#3 Make a plan
Plan your morning before hand so you’re not running around like a headless chicken on the morning of the race.
Pack your bag the night before and make a race day checklist of what you’ll need on the day so you don’t forget anything.
#4 Warm up
A warm up is essential for any race, whether it be a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon.
You need to get your heart racing and blood pumping before the race to prevent injury and loosen your muscles.
Check out my guide on how to warm up properly before a 5k race for more information and tips.
#5 Cool down
A cool down helps to bring down your heart rate after a intense run, reduce your risk of injury and help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Aim to do static stretches as part of your cool down instead of dynamic stretches.
#6 Focus on form
Proper running form looks at everything from your posture and foot strike to your cadence and arm swing.
Good running form is all about helping you run in the most efficient way possible, where the least amount of stress is put on your joints and muscles.
If you have imbalances in your muscles, or you have picked up some bad running habits, then learning about proper running form and adopting good form on your runs will help you run faster and more efficiently in the long term.
More importantly, good running form will help to shave seconds off your run times.
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