A 10K race, which is 6.2 miles, is ideal for experienced runners who are looking for more of a challenge. It’s the second most popular race after the half-marathon and requires a fitness level that balances strength, energy, and endurance.
If you’ve already done a few 5Ks and enjoy running longer distances, the 10K may be a perfect next step.
Completing a 10K run is an accomplishment in itself, and you should be happy with your time no matter what. However, it’s normal to want to know how your time stacks up against other runners’ times and against your previous bests.
Your age, cardiovascular fitness, and musculoskeletal health can all influence your individual performance, but the average 10K time is 50–70 minutes.
Continue reading to learn more about 10K averages and how you can build the speed and endurance needed to achieve your goal.
Most runners who are reasonably fit and clock 15–30 miles per week can expect to finish a 10K race in 50–70 minutes.
More advanced runners will usually finish in 43–50 minutes. Exceptionally fit runners can average a mile every 7 minutes, whereas more casual runners can expect to run a mile every 10–14 minutes.
Around the world
10K averages in the United Kingdom are similar to those in the United States, with men finishing in around 53 minutes and women finishing in around 63 minutes.
As for 10K times worldwide, the current top-ranking men’s 10K time is held by a Ugandan runner, and the women’s highest rankings include runners from the Netherlands and Ethiopia (1).
Typically, Ethiopia and Kenya have some of the fastest runners in both the men’s and the women’s events.
Average 10K times can depend on factors such as age, sex, and fitness level.
Your musculoskeletal health also comes into play, so you should take steps to reduce pain, avoid injury, and run with proper form.
If you are experiencing pain from running, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional to rule out common concerns such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee. It’s best to address these issues before training for a race.
Commit to your training program and gradually work up to meeting your target finishing times. Make sure your goals are realistic and that you have a good sense of your limitations.
You may be able to meet the averages for your age and sex, but if they’re not within reach based on your mile times, aim for your personal best.
Along with your fitness level and training regimen, age and sex are factors to consider when it comes to average 10K times.
Below are the averages reported by RunRepeat in 2019 that you can use as signposts to determine roughly where you should be when starting out and what times you can strive to meet (2).
If you’re just starting to run, you may want to try a 5K race before committing to a 10K. As long as you’re reasonably fit, in good health, and committed to your training program, you should be able to get ready for a race within a few weeks.
It’ll take twice as long to prepare for a 10K race as it does for a 5K race, so make sure you’ve allotted enough time to get ready.
If this is your first race, begin with lighter running sessions. Slowly build up your endurance by increasing the length and intensity of your sessions.
Avoid running for too long or at a pace that’s too fast. To reduce your risk of injury, play it safe by stopping any time you feel pain or exhaustion. Balance out your running sessions with lighter workouts such as yoga, tai chi, or swimming.
During a 10K race, run at a pace you can maintain to prevent overexerting yourself too quickly. Save your energy for the last part of the race.
The average mile time for men running a 10K is a little under 9 minutes, whereas the average for women is about 10 minutes.
Beginners may take 12–15 minutes to finish a mile. Walkers who finish a mile every 15–20 minutes can complete a 10K in anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Below is a chart listing the average pace per mile for men and women of various ages (2).
To improve your speed, endurance, and performance, you’ll need to increase your overall fitness level. Incorporate a variety of running workouts into your routine and change it up often.
- Do drills. Instead of focusing solely on clocking miles, do drills that help increase your speed, such as tempo runs, interval training, and hill running. You can improve your stride by trying to increase your steps per minute.
- Challenge yourself. Try demanding courses that have lots of hills, streams, or uneven terrain. Run in adverse conditions, such as heat, cold, and rain, so you can adapt to different weather conditions. If it’s possible, practice the race course beforehand.
- Mix it up. To avoid injury, choose 1 day per week to do an intense workout. Do moderate routines on the other days and have at least 1 full day of rest each week. Balance your running workouts with stretching exercises that keep your body flexible.
- Get strong. Strength train to build muscle and improve stability. Examples of this include weightlifting, bodyweight training, and resistance band exercises.
- Treat your body well. Take care of your overall health by getting plenty of sleep, and boost your hydration by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte beverages. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, and diuretics such as green, black, and hibiscus tea.
- Follow a healthy diet. Eat small, frequent meals that include complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid processed and sugary foods.
- Know your limits. Challenge yourself to reach your full potential, but at the same time, know and work within your limits. You can also incorporate walking into your routine, especially on days when your motivation for intense running workouts is lacking.
- Don’t forget to rest. In the week leading up to the race, rest more than usual. Maintain your endurance and keep your muscles loosened up by doing a few 3-mile runs. Be sure to rest for the 2 days before the race.
The day before your race, there’s no need to do anything like carb load or take any extreme dietary measures, since your efforts are likely to require less than 90 minutes (
Doing some simple mobility exercises, staying hydrated, and trying to get a good night’s sleep will help you feel your best on race day.
The morning of the race, 1–4 hours before the starting gun, eat a good breakfast consisting of mostly carbohydrates and a little protein. This extra bit of carb energy will help top off your tank to keep ample glycogen available for immediate energy (
Depending on your needs, the recommended amount of carbs is 1–4 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 155-pound (about 70-kg) person, that means 70–280 grams of carbs, or at least 280 calories from carbs.
On race day, go with high glycemic foods that are easier to digest. Simple carbs, white grains, and sugary fruits may be good choices (
It’s best to try out various foods during training so you know what works for you. This will ensure you’re not surprised on race day to find that something disagrees with you.
Drink plenty of fluids the morning of your race, stopping about 1 hour before the start time to make sure you’re not running straight to the port-a-potties.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends 5–7 mL per kg of body weight at least 4 hours before a race (5).
Consider adding an electrolyte tab to your water to prevent muscle cramping and to avoid hyponatremia — a dangerous potential consequence of over-hydration by water alone (
If you’re a coffee drinker, consuming your daily cup should be fine. Just be sure not to overindulge. However, if you’re not accustomed to coffee — and its bladder- and bowel-stimulating effects — race day may not be the best day to start drinking it.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can help you more effectively access your energy stores (
But consuming too much of it could hinder your time as a result of extra breaks, so experiment in training to see what works best.
Once you’re adequately fed and hydrated and at the venue, try to relax a bit. About 10 minutes before start time, you can engage in some dynamic warmup exercises.
These exercises will activate and warm the muscles of your hips, legs, feet, and core, preparing you to run efficiently and comfortably from the starting line rather than using the first 10 minutes of the race to hit peak readiness.
A good dynamic warmup includes some rhythmic movements such as side shuffles, high knees, and butt kickers. It can also involve some dynamic stretches such as leg swings, side lunges, and runner’s touches.
Don’t move too vigorously and tire yourself out, but do use your pre-race minutes to warm and limber up your body for the task ahead.
Right after your race, your recovery begins. Your most immediate needs involve muscle recovery. You want to move slowly and rhythmically to let your heart and lungs settle into a resting effort.
Don’t sit down right away — you still have plenty of blood flow in your leg muscles, and walking or doing some dynamic stretching will allow your heart to gently redirect more blood flow back home and out of your arms and legs.
If you immediately plop down on to the ground or into a chair, blood can pool in your arms and legs, which can lead to blood pressure issues and even loss of consciousness (
In addition to bringing your heart rate and breathing down, you’ll want to gently stretch your muscles. You don’t need to worry about getting a deep stretch, but lengthening those muscles a bit can help with circulation and overall comfort and improve your flexibility.
It’s possible, but still unproven, that post-exercise stretching can help reduce muscle soreness (9).
When it comes to reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), massage is a better bet. One study found that getting a massage 48 hours after an intense workout best helped alleviate DOMS (10).
Once you’ve recovered from the immediate effects of your race, you’ll benefit tremendously from taking in some post-effort nutrition. Your muscle recovery begins right away, so the sooner you can take in a little bit of carbohydrate and protein, the better.
Consuming both carbs and protein within 2 hours of the end of your race is important for recovery (
Be sure to hydrate! The general recommendation is to drink 150% of the body mass lost during the race, which means drinking 1.5 L of fluid for every 1.0 L of fluid lost. The key is to drink more water than you lost in order to reach ideal hydration levels (11).
You should also consider adding electrolytes to your water. Research has shown that higher levels of sodium electrolytes in recovery drinks (60–80 mmol/L) are optimal for restoring the sodium lost through sweat (11).
What about beer? A lot of runners like their glass of “liquid bread” after a race and enjoy the ritual of the post-run brew.
Although beer does contain electrolytes and carbs, which are helpful in recovery, drinking alcohol after exercise interferes with muscular recovery (
So, if you choose to drink a post-race beer, it’s best to stop at one. Opt for one with a lower alcohol content and supplement with water.
Once you’re recovered fully from the effort, allow your body to rest. Just because you’ve cooled down and showered doesn’t mean your body is done. Your muscles and bones have been taxed and need to recover.
Take it easy for the rest of the day — but continue to move periodically to keep your body limber.
Allow for a good night’s sleep after your race. Although recovery begins immediately, your body does most of its muscle repair during sleep, so you want to give yourself the gift of good sleep to feel stronger and more recovered the next morning (13).
Give yourself credit for completing a 10K run, no matter what your time is. While a bit of competition is fine, make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard or too quickly. Listen to your body and take rest days when needed.
Commit to a fitness program and expect to see results over several weeks. Enjoy the process as you reap the benefits of getting or staying fit, and don’t be surprised if you soon find yourself setting your sights on a half-marathon.