Running a 5K is a fairly achievable feat that’s ideal for people who are just getting into running or who simply want to run a more manageable distance.
Even if you’ve never run a 5K race, you can probably get in shape within a few months by dedicating yourself to the right training program.
If you run a 5K, you should be happy with yourself no matter the results, but it’s natural to want to know if your time is above or below average.
Factors such as age, sex, and fitness level can influence your 5K time. Many runners complete a 5K in 30 to 40 minutes, and many runners are satisfied with their time if it’s around this benchmark. The average walker finishes a 5K in 45 to 60 minutes.
Age plays a part when it comes to determining 5K averages, though as you can see from the chart below, some age groups fare better than their younger counterparts. Use these 5K averages as a guideline to see roughly where you can expect to be when you’re starting out.
|0 to 15||34:43||37:55|
|16 to 19||29:39||37:39|
|20 to 24||29:27||36:22|
|25 to 29||31:09||36:16|
|30 to 34||31:27||38:41|
|35 to 39||33:44||37:21|
|40 to 44||32:26||38:26|
|45 to 49||33:13||39:19|
|50 to 54||34:30||41:20|
|55 to 59||37:33||45:18|
|60 to 64||40:33||45:49|
|65 to 99||42:59||50:13|
If you run a mile about every 8 minutes, you can count on your 5K time being under or around 25 minutes. However, this isn’t easily achievable for many people, so beginners should aim to run a mile in about 9 to 13 minutes.
Set up a fitness plan that builds up over a few weeks or months. Balance out your running routine with low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and elliptical training.
Everyday runners can aim to complete a mile in about 9 to 12 minutes. This means you’ll finish a 5K in about 28 to 37 minutes.
Walkers can expect to complete a mile in about 15 to 20 minutes. Walking at a brisk pace should enable you to finish a 5K at around the hour mark.
To get fit and improve running speed, focus on building up gradually over a few weeks or months. You may also want to consider a few more tips to improve your time, including:
- Make healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of quality sleep.
- Always warm up for at least 10 to 15 minutes before starting a running workout, and finish with a cooldown.
- Improve your endurance and speed by doing interval training and switching it up to run on a treadmill, uneven terrain, and hills.
- Balance out your running routine with strength training, and include plenty of stretches to keep your body loose and flexible.
- To build speed, work on increasing your endurance and muscle mass. Vary your workouts between moderate- and high-intensity workouts, and include other forms of endurance exercise, such as biking, volleyball, or swimming.
- Try yoga, tai chi, or dancing at least once a week to get your body moving in different ways.
- Always allow for at least one full day of rest each week.
- If you’re new to running, begin with 20- to 30-minute sessions, and slowly increase the duration as you get more fit.
- You can improve your coordination and balance with the following form drills:
- walking and running high knees
- bounding, or running with an exaggerated motion
- straight-leg bounding
- butt kicks
- skipping and hopping drills
- controlled sprints
- inseam pulls
Vary your workouts by changing the intensity, distance, and time. Use interval training to exhaust your muscles by pushing yourself as hard as you can for a set time, and then allow for a recovery period.
One example is to do 1 minute of intense exercise followed by 2 minutes of recovery. Do this for 4 rounds for a total of 12 minutes. Or you can run at a high speed for 2 to 5 minutes followed by an equal time spent jogging. Do this 4 to 6 times.
You can find a few sample 5K training schedules here. Keep track of your progress by logging your workout details in a journal or an app. Record your running times, workouts, and diet.
Nutrition plays a part in 5K preparation. While training, include plenty of lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Have fresh fruit, green vegetables, and healthy protein shakes on the regular. Reduce your intake of alcohol and processed, sugary foods.
Running a 5K is a great way to challenge yourself if you’re already a runner, or to set a goal for yourself if you’re starting to run for the first time.
Pace yourself as you build your speed, endurance, and strength, but also be sure to challenge yourself along the way. Have fun with it, and use your progress as motivation for meeting your personal best.