Have you recently signed up for a 5K event? Or maybe you have already completed one and you’re looking to improve your time. Either way if you are training for a 5K, you are probably wondering “How long should it take to run a 5K?”
How can I measure my running time?
The time it takes to run any distance will depend on your pace, for example if you run at a speed of 10km (6.2 miles) per hour you will finish a 5K in 30 minutes. There are lots of tools that can help you measure your pace, such as fitness trackers and apps that will keep a log of your speed and distance. If you are training on a treadmill you can manually set your running pace and adjust this as your fitness improves.
The average time it takes someone to run a 5K will also depend on a variety of factors such as age, fitness level and gender. An age graded calculator provides a performance score based on running data for your age and gender, allowing for a fairer comparison across the board.
Average 5K time for beginners
For beginners, you can expect to cross the finish line of a 5K somewhere between 30-45 minutes. As you will be fairly new to training, you may be more comfortable doing a combination of running and walking to begin with. Training plans such as Couch to 5K will ease you in to running and help you improve your pace over time.
Average 5K time for intermediate runners
For intermediate runners (generally those who run 10 – 20 miles per week) an average 5K time would be around 20-25 minutes, which is an average speed of around 7-9mph over the course. Those hoping for a new personal best 5K time may benefit from incorporating interval training into their training schedules to help build up pace and endurance.
Average 5K time for athletes/elites
Athletes and elite level runners follow rigorous training routines to attain increasingly competitive running times. The world record time for a 5K stands at 12:37.35 minutes for men, held by Kenenisa Bekele, and 14:11.15 minutes for women, held by Tirunesh Dibaba – pretty impressive! The average 5K time for an advanced/elite runner is under 17 minutes for men and under 19 minutes for women.
How can I improve my average 5K time?
If you’re looking for ways to improve your pace and as a result, get your 5K running time down, there are a few things you can do to get moving that bit faster.
Practice makes perfect: Having a structured training plan in place is one of the best ways to improve your speed and measure your progress. For example, a 6-week training plan for a 5K might have you walk/run for the first couple of weeks, then gradually increase the amount of time you spend running instead of walking. By adding more speed gradually you’ll adjust more easily and see your 5K time reducing each week.
Train your muscles: Whilst running is a great calorie burning exercise, there’s a reason that most elite long-distance runners are lean as opposed to muscular. Running alone won’t help you build much muscle but adding some weight and resistance training into your routine will. Building muscle can help you run faster as it will put more power behind your strides, increasing your overall speed.
Add some sprints: Mixing up your speed with bursts of high-speed sprinting is a great way to get your body used to running at a higher pace too. Start with short 30 second bursts of sprinting at a close to your maximum effort, then return to your comfortable running pace. Repeat this throughout your run and not only will you add some speed you’ll also torch more calories.
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