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Average 5k Time

Amanda Wendorff

Once you’ve started training for a 5 kilometer (or 3.1 mile) running race, it’s natural to start thinking about your goal finish time. A helpful way to begin setting a goal is to look at average 5k times for runners whose background and experience match your own.

In this article, you will find answers to the following questions:

  • What’s an average 5k time?
  • What’s a good 5k time for a beginner?
  • What’s a good 5k time by age or gender?
  • What’s the world record 5k time?
  • What’s a fast 5k time for elite runners?
  • How can you improve your 5k time?
A woman wearing a MOTTIV hat runs outdoors in a running race
Rebecca Foat is a mom of two who uses running not only for exercise but also to keep her mental health on track. She's been using the MOTTIV app for her training for the past couple of years, and continues to notch personal best times in her half marathon and marathons.


What is the Average 5k Time?

It isn’t easy to determine a precise average time it takes to run a 5k among all runners and walkers that complete the distance worldwide. However, we’ve run some calculations, and an average finishing time for an athlete running (as opposed to walking) a 5k is between 25 and 28 minutes.

Average 5k Times By Age and Gender

If you’d like to get even more specific about the average 5k running time range by gender and age, you can use our handy calculator here. Just enter your gender and age, and you’ll see the average time for your demographic and the benchmark times we’d expect for beginner and elite runners.

By using this calculator, we can determine the average 5k times for a few example age groups: 

Male, 30 years old: 22 minutes, 32 seconds, which equates to a running pace of:

  • 7 minutes, 15 seconds per mile, or
  • 4 minutes, 30 seconds per kilometer

Female, 40 years old: 26 minutes, 49 seconds, which equates to a running pace of:

  • 8 minutes, 38 seconds per mile, or
  • 5 minutes, 22 seconds per kilometer

Male, 70 years old: 30 minutes, 34 seconds, which equates to a running pace of:

  • 9 minutes, 50 seconds per mile, or
  • 6 minutes, 7 seconds per kilometer

Female, 65 years old: 34 minutes, 54 seconds, which equates to a running pace of:

  • 11 minutes, 14 seconds per mile, or
  • 6 minutes, 59 seconds per kilometer

Of course, these are just the average times it takes an athlete of the designated age and gender to complete a 5k. Your actual race time will depend on many variables, including your running experience, fitness level, training program, genetics, and even gear selection.

What’s a Good 5k Time For a Beginner?

While we’ve determined the average 5k run times for various groups of runners, it’s important to remember that those averages include the race times of many experienced 5k runners. But what about beginners? What would be good 5k running times for a new runner?

Here at MOTTIV, we believe that with the proper training and no significant physical limitations, a good 5k goal time for a beginner runner would be under 30 minutes. To break that 30-minute barrier, your goal paces would be: 

  • Faster than 9 minutes, 39 seconds per mile running pace, or
  • Faster than 6 minutes per kilometer

Now, if you’re a beginner runner but have experience in other endurance sports (or sports that involve a lot of running like soccer), we’d set the goals a bit higher. For an experienced athlete starting with 5ks, we expect you to finish in under 25 minutes. The paces necessary to break 25 minutes in a 5k are:

  • Faster than 8 minutes, 9 seconds per mile, or
  • Faster than 5 minutes per kilometer

We base these goal times on the assumption that you’d want to run using a well-designed training program over several weeks. If you’d like to know how long it takes to train, check out this calculator, which tells you the number of weeks you should plan to devote to a 5k training plan based on your background and goals: 

 

What’s The World Record 5k Run Time?

Having learned the average times for a 5k race among all runners and good time goals for beginner runners, let’s turn our attention to the fastest 5k runners out there: the world record holders.

There are two sets of 5k world records, those set during races run on a track and those set during races on roads. There are several differences between these types of events, including:

  • Forum: 5k track races are usually contested as part of track and field meets or large-scale events such as the Olympics. 5k road races can take place in any town at any time.
  • Surface: 5k track events are run on softer, rubberized tracks. 5k road race routes typically occur on normal roads but can also traverse paths, dirt roads, grass, or other surfaces.
  • Number of Racers: 5k track events are typically invite-only and limited to 20 or fewer runners per heat. At 5k road races elite runners are almost always racing as part of a larger event that includes runners of all speeds.
  • Terrain: A track 5k will always look the same - 12.5 laps of a flat 400-meter outdoor track (or 25 laps of a 200-meter indoor track). Road 5ks are much more variable. They can be hilly or flat, run point-to-point with no turns, or have 20 turns as a race winds its way through a neighborhood.

Because of these differences, 5k times run on the track tend to be faster. The world record finish times for the 5k track distance are: 

The 5k road world records are: 

  • 12 minutes and 49 seconds for men, set on December 31, 2021, by Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia at the Cursa dels Nassos race in Barcelona, Spain
  • 14 minutes and 19 seconds for women, also set on December 31, 2021, by Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia at the Cursa dels Nassos race in Barcelona, Spain

Local elite runners, like the ones you’re likely to see breaking the tape at your community race, may complete a 5k race in a finish time of 15 to 17 minutes (or even faster) for men, or 18 to 20 minutes for women. Experienced runners may even go faster than that.

How to Improve Your 5k Time

Many beginner runners enjoy the process of training for and finishing their first 5k so much that they soon decide to enter more races with the hope of improving their finish time with a new personal best. Although for many new runners, a faster pace will come from simply running more miles, there are some ways you can structure your training to maximize its benefit and improve your running speed.  

If you’re looking for tips to get faster, consider incorporating these things into your exercise routine: 

  • Long, low-intensity runs. The foundation of the training for any endurance running event is plenty of easy running, including a weekly low-intensity long run. Long slow distance has numerous physiological benefits, including teaching the body to become more metabolically efficient, increasing the mitochondrial density in the cells, and improving the durability of the muscles.
  • Interval runs. To improve running speed, you should also include some interval runs. Interval runs typically include multiple repeats of shorter distances at faster speeds, with periods of walking or very easy running in between. For example, an interval workout may be eight repeats of 400-meter runs at your 5k goal pace, with short recoveries of 200 meters of walking or jogging.
  • Proper training zones. To effectively incorporate interval runs, long, slow runs, and other workouts in your 5k plan, you need to know how fast or hard to run. You can do this by creating training zones based on your heart rate and then using those zones to guide the intensity of your training. You can read our suggested method for creating individualized heart rate zones here.
  • Strength training. In addition to your running, basic strength training is crucial for preparing the body for the physical exertion of training for and racing a 5k and preventing injury.

The best way to ensure you incorporate all of these important features is to find a reliable 5k training program. A good training program will include all of these sessions, lay them out logically to maximize their benefits, and progressively increase the training load and mileage to reduce risk of injury and keep you healthy. You can find excellent 5k training programs, that are personalized to you, in the MOTTIV training app.

Or you can check out a sample 5K training plan right here.

Wrap-Up

Having a good goal for your 5k is a great way to motivate yourself through your training and preparation. This article has shown you the following: 

  • The average 5k run times for the overall population, as well as the average times we may expect for an individual, taking into account age, gender, and athletic background:
  • Just how fast the world’s best runners can cover the 5k distance
  • Some tips to improve your 5k run time

Now that you’ve got a good sense of some reasonable goals, it’s time to get running!

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Amanda Wendorff

| AUTHOR

Amanda Wendorff is a professional triathlete, focusing on the 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman distances. In the last several years she’s competed in multiple gravel bike races. Top Achievements: Top 3 Ironman Ireland and Ironman 70.3 Coquimbo, Multiple time top-5 finisher, 3rd Overall at Moran 166 Gravel Race in Michigan, Age group podium at Gravel Worlds, Big Sugar, and Ned Gravel in first year of gravel racing.

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