Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Average 5K Time | How to Get Faster NOW

Are you seeking how to improve upon an average 5k time? If so, I am glad you have made it here to rundreamachieve.com. I have run 14:18 for the distance and have competed in events all the way up to the marathon. So, I do understand what it takes to run fast over multiple distances. My goal with this post is to share with you some of the best strategies I know of to help you get better results. The 5 kilometer event is a highly anaerobic race. It is very important that you focus on speed development. In addition, building your endurance is also vital for overall success.

A common mistake I often see runners make is running to low of a percentage of their weekly volume at paces that are too slow. Remember, the goal is to get your 5k race pace to feel more in control and less aggressive on you. Yes, race pace is certainly going to hurt no matter what race distance you are aiming at.

That being said, the goal is to hurt in the last few meters of a race and not in the first mile of a 5k road or track race. How do you go from an average 5k time to a great 5k time? Patience and proper pre-planning. Why do the best middle to long distance runners make it look so easy? They spend approximately 40 percent of their weekly volume training at or below goal 5K race pace.

What is Average 5K Time by Age?

The average 5K per age group is listed below. Of course, times will vary from athlete to athlete. Again, these are just the average 5k time that most often times are run. The world record for men is 12:35 and women 14:06 on the track. These are the very best times ever run. So, everyone has different capacities and these athletes have extremely high lactate tolerance. The key tactic I use with the athletes I coach here is to work on speed development. Again, you want to be able to sustain 5k race pace more efficiently than your competition.

average 5k time
Source: Running Level
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Average 5K Running Time

The average 5k race pace that runners are running is around 11:22 per mile for men and 13:21 for women. What does it take to go from running an average 5k time to a great time? Focus on your end goal. What pace per mile or kilometer are you aiming for? Now, what percentage of your weekly volume in the past have you been practicing running at this pace? Is it 5 percent? 10 percent? The world's top middle to long distance runners run around 40 percent of their weekly volume at or below their goal race pace.

So, there obviously is a reason why these athletes are making it look so easy. Yes, they may have some talent. That being said, they are simply spending a higher percentage of their training time at very high speeds. In addition, they are taking it very easy on their easy, recovery days. In addition, they are also focused on doing faster long runs as well. No, they are not doing these long runs at goal 5k race pace but at or around 85 percent of their maximum heart rate. My personal best for 5k on the roads is 14 minutes and 18 seconds. So, the way I did that was training at paces that were closer to 4:20 to 4:30 per mile pace in training.

What is a Good 5K Time for a Beginner?

A descent time for a 5k beginner is around 30 to 40 minutes. Remember, you can always drop time. It is just a matter of how you are setting up your training. I believe 16 weeks is the proper amount of time to train properly for any race distance. In fact, all of the running courses and training plans here at rundreamachieve are based around a 4-month training block. It takes around 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to the stresses you are placing on it. So, if you want to move from having an average 5k time to a superior time you have to be very patient.

Yes, the body always adapts but it takes time. Fitness cannot be rushed especially when it comes to the 5k event. My philosophy is make this race a 2.1 mile race. Hold off running too aggressively that first mile. Once you get to the 1-mile mark or around 1.6 kilometers into the race then make your move.

A common mistake runners make is they try to win the race in the first mile. Remember, this is a highly anaerobic event and not an aerobic event like the marathon. You have more time to make a mistake in the half marathon or marathon event. You have to be very smart in your race plan when it comes to the 5K.

How Many Calories Do You Burn in 5km Run?

Athletes burn around 100 to 120 calories per mile in a 5 kilometer event. The key to success in this event is to improve your body's lactate tolerance. Yes, you will build endurance by running slow and this is still important. I recommend spending about 3 to 4 weeks running easy, relaxed miles or kilometers. The reason being is you want to build that strong, foundation of mileage before starting a 16-week block of training to prepare for a big personal best.

Also, you need to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tissues before moving into faster, anaerobic efforts. Again, proper planning is essential to go from an average 5k time to a great one. The athletes that reach out to be coached by do so because they want to use leverage. They already know how to work hard. These professionals are seeking to work smarter and get better results. In addition, they are seeking how to train like professional, elite runners train. Average people do not come to rundreamachieve, respectfully. Athletes seeking excellence do.

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Male 5k Running Times

The fastest 5k running time for a male on the track is 12 minutes and 35 seconds. The road world record is 12 minutes and 51 seconds. Again, these are the fastest 5 kilometer race times ever dropped in history. So, do not compare yourself to these athletes. That being said, even world record holders are human and have off days. I have outrun some world-class athletes myself. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red like you and I. The only difference is they have some genetic talent.

More importantly, they work extremely hard and smart. Talent that does not work will get beat by work ethic that does. I have known many talented runners far more talented than I was that didn't run as fast as I did for the marathon. Why is that? Consistent, long-term action. No, I didn't have a massive amount of talent and more than likely, neither do you. That being said, I am certain you have a great deal of work ethic. Perhaps, you do have a lot of talent as well. If you do, you cannot rest as someone, somewhere is training to beat you.

Female 5k Running Times

The world record for the 5,000m (5 kilometers) on the track for women is 14:06. The world record on the roads for the 5K is 14:44. A legitimate time for a female is around 26 minutes or faster. Again, this will vary from athlete to athlete. There are women running under 18 minutes and some running over 30 minutes so it just depends. The key tactic is to always focus on speed improvement. I recommend doing strides 2 to 3 times per week during your easy runs. Strides are too short to build up any significant lactic acid. So, you can do these on top of your weekly anaerobic workouts.

You need to focus on doing 1, vo2max workout per week. In addition, a tempo run of around 3 to 4 miles and a long run at the end of your week. That being said, don't run every single weekend long and slow. A major mistake I see runners make is running their long runs too slow. Again, you want to improve your body's ability to handle and clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

There are many resources here including training plans, running courses and our monthly coaching option. So, the goal is to help you pre-plan your training so you know what workouts you need to be doing. Also, to ensure that you get the highest return on your time investment.

What is a Good 5k Time?

A good 5k time may be around 23:55 for a male and 26:00 for a female. I have seen runners who can these types of times and drop several minutes off of them. So, there really isn't a limit to what you can do depending on how focused and disciplined you are. As mentioned above, focus on doing strides about twice per week. These are short, 50 to 100 meter sprints. They are great for focusing on acceleration drills. In addition, working on your leg turnover and form. You want to stay as relaxed as you can while you are training for your 5K races.

Have you ever watched a world-class runner? They always look relaxed and in control. How do they do that? Again, they spent a higher percentage of their weekly mileage training at paces that far exceed what they are planning to race at. So, race pace becomes more like a tempo effort and not like an all out sprint. The same goes for you. Focus on duplicating the work habits of the world's best runners and you will start to see significant changes in your training and racing.

Closing Thoughts

How often do you spend time mentally training for your races? Do you take time out each day mentally rehearsing and seeing yourself performing at the level that you are dreaming about? I used this tactic to help me lower my marathon best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. You have to see what you want in your mind first before it ever can become a reality in real life. The best runners know relying on physical training by itself is not enough.

Running is a mental sport. So, start taking 10 to 15 minutes each day and see yourself getting across the finish line with a time on the clock that you desire. I recommend subscribing to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create content each week to help runners such as yourself make it to the next level in their training and racing.

Remember, to go from an average 5k time to one that you are dreaming about takes proper pre-planning. In addition, proper pacing in the race. Do not try to win a 5K in the first mile. Who cares if you are in 1st place at the mile mark. What about the finish line? The athletes that pace themselves early will be the ones making their moves in the latter stages of the race. Are there runners who take off and you may never catch?

Of course. That being said, even they can be beaten. So, never discredit yourself. Success in this sport comes from learning from the mistakes of others. Also, studying how the best train and think and simply duplicating their work habits.

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