Is My 5K Time Any Good?

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a running novice or seasoned marathoner, every runner has been in the position of seeing their time at the end of a 5km training session, a Parkrun or a race and thought, for better or worse, well, that’s that – but where do I measure up? And what should I aspire to? 

 

In this Runner’s Radar article we’ll break down the expected times from having never run a mile to pro-athlete level. An important note, though, is that there’s no such thing as a bad 5K time. Fitness is an individual journey, and a slower than average 5km is no less valuable than the fastest one on record (read below), as long as it’s enjoyable.

 

Starting from Scratch < 80 minutes

 

The average walker finishes a 5K in between 45 and 60 minutes [*].

 

Women above 65 who are just starting out are the slowest demographic and a 90-year-old female beginner will on average take 1 hour and 20 minutes to run a 5K distance, according to Running Level [*].

 

Depending on physical condition, most people at the beginning of their running journey can expect to take 35 minutes or more [*] on a 5K distance.

 

Novice < 40 minutes

 

A novice runner under 60 will on average have a 5K run time of 35 minutes or less [*], taking about 7 minutes per kilometre[*]. Novice runners are those who have been running regularly for around 6 months.

 

Seasoned Runner < 30 minutes

 

For experienced runners, those who run 10 miles or more per week[*] or have been running consistently for at least two years, the average time to run a 5K is 30 minutes or less.

 

Those on the faster end of the spectrum, or those who’ve been running for over five years, will take as little as 20 minutes.

 

Fast Runner  < 20 minutes

 

Runner’s who have dedicated over 5 years to competitive racing will on average take less than 20 minutes to run 5K. The average time for women is under 19 minutes and for men 17 minutes.

 

competative  < 19 minutes

 

At Sub 19 you’re becoming a competitive runner, you’ll be right at the top of your local parkrun and possibly picking up some podiums in your age-group on the right day, 

 

Fast!  < 18 – 16 minutes

 

At the competitive end of the spectrum and challenging at the top end of races 

 

Very fast < 15 minutes

 

Sub 15 5Km puts you in the elite of running. 

 

Record Breakers < 14 minutes

 

Joshua Cheptegei[*], a Ugandan long-distance runner and Olympic gold medalist, currently holds the world record 5K time for men, at 12:35.36 minutes. Letesenbet Gidey[*], an Ethiopian long-distance runner and fellow Olympic athlete, holds the world record for women at 14:06.62.

 

Florence Huntington[*] currently holds the world record 5K time for a woman over 90 at 53:45.54 minutes.

 

How you can improve your 5km time

 

  • Warm up beforehand – this enhances muscle performance and as such can help you sustain running at a higher speed for longer [*]

 

  • Get enough rest + the right nutrition – rest and a balanced diet, with enough protein for recovery and muscle strength, both allow your muscles to repair properly and perform better in the long run

 

  • Track your sessions + set goals – this allows you to better understand the way you run and areas for improvement. Psychologists in the 1960s found that setting process goals increase motivation and enhance productivity by 11% to 25%, making improvement more likely [*]

 

  • Be consistent – the only way to improve in anything is through regular practice, the same is true for your running time, so if you want to get better the best way is to get out there and hit the pavement

Written by Amy Moretsele