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Run a faster 5k: What is the average time to run a 5k?

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Running a 5k is a common goal for a lot of runners. Once you have finished programmes like Couch to 5k, many runners go on to complete a 5k.

You may be wondering what the average time to run a 5k is.

Many factors can affect how fast you run a 5k. 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.

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • How long is a 5k?
  • How to train for a 5k
  • How to run a faster 5k
  • What is a good 5k time for a beginner?
  • Average time to run a 5k by age, ability and gender

Ready?

Let’s go!

what is the average time to run a 5k

How long is a 5k?

A 5k is 3.1 miles. Many runners choose the 5k as their first proper running distance having completed programmes like Couch to 5k.

To date, the 5k remains one of the most popular running distances in the world.

How to train for a 5k?

Whether you’re a beginner runner or a seasoned pro, it’s important you follow a training plan so you prepare adequately for your race. 

There are many training plans out there – the key is to find one that matches your running ability and goals.

Check out my beginner 5k training plan and my intermediate 5k training plan if you have a few 5k races under your belt and you are looking to improve your race times.

Here are some tips on training for and running a 5k:

  • Be consistent. When training for a 5k, it’s important you be consistent with your training, especially if you’re looking to achieve a PB.
  • Improve your endurance and speed. As discussed above, speed training is incredibly important when wanting to run a faster 5k. Tempo running, interval training and hill workouts are all great ways to do this.
  • Don’t forget about the long run. When training for a 5k, it’s important you build your stamina and endurance as well as your speed. A well-rounded training plan will include 1 or 2 long runs in the lead up to your race. A long run will anything between 5 to 7 miles.
  • Work on your running form. Proper running form helps you run more efficiently. Your posture, footstrike and cadence all come together to create good running form.
  • Rest and recover. Whilst training for a 5k, it can be easy to get carried away. Don’t be tempted to run every day as your body needs time to rest and recover. Build in 1 or 2 rest days into your training plan.
  • Strength train. If you are looking to run a faster 5k and reduce your times dramatically then it’s wise to include 1 or 2 strength training sessions a week.
  • Do some running drills. Running drills are used to improve form and performance. They be done as part of a warm up or as part of a standalone session.
  • Set a date. Sign up for a 5k race and set a date. This way you will have something tangible to work towards. Parkrun is a great way to complete your first 5k.

How to run a faster 5k

If you would like to beat your average 5k time and perhaps achieve your next PB, then you may be wondering how to run a faster 5k. 

Being able to improve your race times is all about consistency, progress and practice. Anyone is capable of running a faster 5k if you apply your body and mind in the right way.

Here are the key components of a 5k training plan that will help you run faster:

  • Speed training. Speed training is an integral part of being able to run a faster 5k. You will need to get your body used to running and sustaining a faster pace. Tempo running, interval training and hill workouts are all great ways to help you run a faster 5k.
  • Strength training. Strength training is also a great way to help you become a faster and stronger runner.
  • Running drills. Running form drills are great to include in a warm up or as part of a standalone session. They’re great to improve your form which in turn will help you become a faster and more efficient runner.
  • Rest and recovery. Rest is equally important as running when it comes to training for a 5k. Make sure you have enough rest days in your training plan and prioritise recovery in between those runs.

Related: 6 secrets to increase your speed

What is a good 5k time for a beginner?

If you’re a beginner runner, it generally means you have started running and have been running for at least a month.

The average time to run a 5k for a beginner will vary depending on your age and gender.

However, generally the average 5k time for beginners is between 30 to 40 minutes. You will find a complete breakdown of the average times to run a 5k for beginners according to age at the bottom of this guide.

Completing a 5k in 30 minutes or less if you’re a beginner is an amazing accomplishment!

Related: How to run your first 5k

what is the average time to run a 5k

What is the average time to run a 5k by age, ability and gender?

Here is a breakdown of the average time to run a 5k according to age, ability and gender.

These average 5k running times will help you predict how fast you can run a 5k. Please note these should be used as a guideline only.

Here’s what each ability level means:

  • Beginner runner. You have started running and have been running for at least a month. You are faster than 5% of runners.
  • Novice runner. You have been running regularly for at least six months. You are faster than 20% of runners.
  • Intermediate runner. You have been running regularly for at least two years. You are faster than 50% of runners.
  • Advanced runner. You have been running for over five years. You are faster than 80% of runners.
  • Elite runner. You have been running competitively for over five years. You are faster than 95% of runners.

Average time to run a 5k by age and ability

AgeBeginnerNoviceIntermediateAdvancedEliteWorld Record
1532.3527.1423.1920.2518.1713.18
2031.2926.1922.3119.4417.4012.51
2531.2926.1922.3119.4417.4012.51
3031.2926.1926.1919.4417.4012.51
3531.5926.4522.5320.0317.5713.03
4033.0927.4323.4320.4618.3613.32
4534.2528.4724.3821.3419.1914.03
5035.4729.5525.3622.2620.0514.37
5537.1631.1026.4023.2120.5515.13
6038.5332.2127.4924.2221.4915.52
6540.3833.5929.0525.2822.4816.35

Average time to run a 5k by age and ability – Male 5k running times

AgeBeginnerNoviceIntermediateAdvancedEliteWorld Record
1532.3527.1423.1920.2518.1713.18
2031.2926.1922.3119.4417.4012.51
2531.2926.1922.3119.4417.4012.51
3031.2926.1922.3119.4417.4012.51
3531.5926.4522.5320.0317.5713.03
4033.0927.4323.4320.4618.3613.32
4534.2528.4724.3821.3419.1914.03
5035.4729.5525.3622.2620.0514.37
5537.1631.1026.4023.2120.5515.13
6038.5332.3127.4924.2221.4915.52
6540.3833.5929.0525.2822.4816.35

Average time to run a 5k by age and ability – Female 5k running times

AgeBeginnerNoviceIntermediateAdvancedEliteWorld Record
1537.1431.4027.2624.1421.5015.29
2035.2730.0826.0723.0420.4714.44
2535.2730.0826.0723.0420.4714.44
3035.2730.0826.0723.0420.4714.44
3535.4030.2026.1723.1320.5614.50
4036.2530.5826.4923.4221.2215.08
4537.4332.0427.4724.3322.0715.41
5039.3933.4329.1325.4923.1616.29
5541.5635.4030.5427.1824.3617.26
6044.2937.5032.4728.5826.0618.30
6547.2340.1834.5430.5127.4819.42

Average time to run a 5k by age, gender and race size

According to Big Data Running, the average 5k race time can be impacted by the race size.

They concluded that a better performance is required to be an age group winner in a larger race than in a smaller race.

In addition, you must generally have a better time to win an age group that spans ten years than an age group that spans only five years.

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