Average running speed

Average running speeds, or pace, are based on a number of factors. These include current fitness level and genetics.

In 2015, Strava, an international running and cycling tracking app, reported the average speed for men in the United States was 9:03 minutes per mile (1.6 kilometers). The average pace for women was 10:21 per mile. That data is based on over 14 million logged runs. The current world record for 1 mile is 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1999.

Speed by distance

If you’re planning to run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon, here are the average times per mile. These times are based on 2010 race data from 10,000 recreational runners in the 20 to 49 age range.

SexRace distanceAverage pace per mile (1.6 km)
male 5 km (3.1 mi) 10:18:10
female 5 km (3.1 mi) 12:11:10
male 10 km (6.2 mi) 8:41:43
female 10 km (6.2 mi) 10:02:05
malehalf-marathon (13.1 mi) 9:38:59
femalehalf-marathon (13.1 mi)10:58:33
male marathon (26.2 mi) 9:28:14
female marathon (26.2 mi) 10:23:00

How to improve speed

If you want to improve your average pace per mile, try the following workouts to increase your speed and build up endurance.

Interval training

Warm up for 10 minutes by jogging slowly. Then run a high-intensity pace (where you can’t hold a conversation comfortably) for 2 to 5 minutes. Jog for the same amount of time to recover.

Repeat 4 to 6 times. Do this a minimum of once or twice per week until you’ve comfortably reached your desired speed.

Tempo training

The goal is to run at a tempo pace, or a comfortably hard pace. It should be slightly faster than your target goal time.

Run at this pace for a few minutes, followed by several minutes of jogging. Work up to 10 to 15 minutes of tempo pace for a 5K and 20 to 30 minutes of running at your tempo pace for longer races.

Hill training

If you’re planning on running a race that has hills, it’s important to train on them. Pick a hill that’s of similar length and incline to the one you’ll encounter in the race. Or, if you have access to the course, train on the hills there.

Run at tempo pace up the hill, and then jog back down. Repeat several times. <

Other tips

Other tips that may increase your speed include:

  • Work on your turnover. Runners need a fast stride to increase their pace. As you train, work on increasing your steps per minute. Use a pedometer to keep track.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about a healthy eating plan that’s optimal for your goals, such as running faster, building more muscle, or losing weight.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, wind-resistant clothing when you run. Visit your local running store for lightweight running shoes you can train with on the track and wear on race day. If you’re a woman, this guide can help you find a supportive sports bra for running.
  • Focus on form. Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed. Your arms should be swinging comfortably at your sides like a pendulum. These four exercises may help improve your running technique.

Pacing tips

Your running pace is usually determined by how fast you run 1 mile, on average. To determine your best running pace:

  • Go to a nearby track.
  • Warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Time yourself and run 1 mile. Go at a pace where you push yourself, but don’t run all out.

You can also do this on any flat running trail or path.

Use your mile time as a goal for training. Every few weeks, go back to the track and time your mile pace again as a way to track your progress.

If you’re planning to run a race, try to have a realistic goal time in mind. Try using an online calculator to determine your pace per mile in order to meet your goal.

You can follow an online training plan to help improve your pace. Or, if it’s in your budget, you can work with a running coach.

Running safety

To stay safe and healthy while running, follow these tips:

  • Buy running-specific shoes that offer strong arch and ankle support. Look for a local running store near you. They can outfit you with the right running shoes for your goals. Swap out your running shoes every 500 miles.
  • Run in safe, well-lit areas. Look for popular trails, tracks, and parks where you can run near your home or office.
  • Watch out for tripping hazards, like rocks, crevices, tree branches, and uneven surfaces.
  • If you’re new to running, start out at a comfortable, slow pace that’s conversational. You can build up speed from there. You can also alternate between running and walking to start.
  • Drink plenty of water while you run. If you’re going out for a longer run, look for running routes near you that have water fountains or somewhere you can leave a water bottle.
  • Refuel with a snack or light meal within 45 to 60 minutes after your run.

The takeaway

Your pace is based on factors like your current level of fitness. You can improve your running pace by participating in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or speed workouts. Try performing them on a track near your home. Sign up for a local 5K race or two to stay motivated to improve your time.

Remember, it’s important to build up speed gradually to stay injury-free. Never push yourself to the point of total exhaustion. Always check with your doctor before starting any new running workouts.