Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Average Time for 5K | Fast 5K Time Tips to PR

Are you seeking what is the average time for 5K athletes are running according to their age and gender? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I hope this post will be of assistance to you. There are many runners out there wondering “what is a good 5K time”. Athletes vary in terms of what paces they can sustain over 5,000m. 5 kilometers is 3.1 miles or 12 and half laps around the track.

The world record for men was set by Joseph Cheptegei from Uganda who ran 12:35.36 set in 2020. 12 minutes and 35 seconds for 5,000m comes out to 4:03 for 3.1 miles or 2:31 per kilometer for 5 kilometers. The top time ever recorded for a female is 14:06 set by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia in 2020. 14 minutes and 6 seconds comes out to 2:49 per kilometer for 5 kilometers or 4:32 per mile for 3.1 miles.

Average 5K Time

The majority of runners complete the 5k distance anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes each year. Of course, the faster you are aiming to go the more emphasis has to be placed on speed development. The 5,000m event is a highly anaerobic race as opposed to an aerobic event like the marathon. So, your ability to handle high amounts of lactic acid is essential.

The only way to become more efficient at this distance is a high focus on anaerobic training. Yes, you still need to run easy mileage as well. Endurance is critical in this event as well. Yes, long runs will definitely help you covering the 5K distance successfully. That being said, you have to get that goal 5k race pace you have in mind to feel easier.

I would first focus on building an easy mileage foundation. The reason for this is you want to make sure you body is strong and ready to start doing speed work. Make sure to be doing strides throughout your training too. Strides are short acceleration drills that will help you build your leg strength and turnover.

What is The Average 5K Time by Age?

Average 5K Time for Women

average time for 5k
Photo Credit: Running Level

The average time for 5K for the ladies from the ages of 10 to around 90 is 26 minutes and 21 seconds. So, running a 5K in around 26:00 is not a bad start. 20 to 40 year old beginners can expect to run around 31 minutes for total newbies. Athletes that have some background in running may run closer to 26:30 for the distance. There are other runners who are even more advanced who may run closer down to 23 minutes or faster.

Elite female runners run anywhere from 14:06 (world record) to 21 minutes. Again, it just depends on the experience of the athlete. How many years he or she has been training for the distance. Shoe technology, sports medicine, track surfaces and sport psychology all play a role in athletic success.

Average 5K Time for Men

average 5k time for men
Photo Credit: Running Level

Men are generally faster than women. That being said, women are running faster and faster each year. In fact, the women's world record time of 14:06 most men around the world cannot run. The average time for 5K male athletes is about 22 minutes. Male athletes between the ages of 20 to 40 years old run an average 5k time of 31:59.

Intermediate to totally new runners can expect to run anywhere from 22:58 to 26:42. The average 5 kilometer time for advanced runners is around 20 minutes and 12 seconds. World class runners run well below 13 minutes and sub-elite athletes run anywhere from 16 minutes to 18 minutes. The great news is you can always work on your speed and improve.

Remember, the key is to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. You can only do this by training at very high heart rates. Easy running will not produce this physiological effect. The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more efficient you will race. Are you seeking a running coach? I do coach athletes online and offer two coaching packages, if interested.

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Is it OK to Run 5km Everyday?

Of course. That being said, you have to be patient with your build up. I would recommend running easy, aerobic mileage for at least 4 weeks. It takes the body about 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. A wise move is to focus on building foundational mileage first. You can then start working on 5k race pace training and speed workouts.

Again, focus on a new strategic plan and you will succeed at this. I have created training plans for athletes seeking to run faster in distances from the mile all the way to the 50k. Remember, there are many variables that go into running a fast time. You have to pay attention to the amount of sleep you are getting. In addition, minimizing the amount of stress in your life.

Start slow. The average 5k runner may only be running once or twice per week. We all have to start somewhere. The top middle to long distance runners are running a minimum of 5 days a week and most, 7 days a week. So, running 3 miles every day is a legitimate first step.

Does Running 5K Burn Fat?

Yes. It takes you burning 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat. So, the more you are running the higher the likelihood you will lose weight. Unfortunately, it is not an easy process. Losing weight takes time, patience and determination. It is much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. The good news is running 5k events or training 3 miles or longer will help you to shed unwanted weight.

We burn anywhere from 100 to 130 calories per mile. Of course, heavier athletes will generally burn more calories. The key to losing weight is to burn more calories throughout the day than you consume. That being said, as your activity level rises you will also need more fuel. So, be smart about how you set up your nutritional needs.

Strength Training

Strength training is commonly overlooked but very important to run well at any distance. Remember, your goal is not to go in there and be Arnold. Light weights and high reps should be focused on. Also, focus on the running muscles of the body. In addition, working your core and abdominal region. Strength training will help to safeguard against injuries.

Furthermore, it will help you to strengthen your posture as you are racing. Again, the faster you are aiming to run the more looking at all the fundamentals is essential. It takes a lot of work to go from being average to good and then eventually to being a great runner. Below are some examples of the types of strength training exercises I always focused on.

  • Box jumps (short, 60 second repetitions jumping up and down)
  • Planks
  • Medicine ball drills
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Bench press
  • Leg curls
  • Weighted sled sprints (45lb plate on the back) (IF you have access to one)
  • Pool running (can be a great anaerobic workout without the impact of land running)

How to Train for a 5K

As mentioned above, you first want to focus on building that strong, foundational mileage. How to train for a 5K comes down to focusing on a 12 to 20 week build up. Again, the longer you can prepare for your race the better off you will be. The reason being is you won't be in a rush to get into great fitness. There are far too many runners doing this already.

20 week marathon training plan pdf
Coach Pennington placing 4th overall and top American at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

They get frustrated when they miss their goal after training for 4 to 8 weeks. The problem isn't they aren't capable of running a faster 5k time. It is simply their training block was too short. In addition, many times it is they are running too many miles or kilometers too slow through the week. The best middle to long distance runners are running about 40% of their weekly volume at very high intensities.

So, they make it look easy for a reason. The major reason why a lot of runners have trouble is too much easy running. Running easy is important. That being said, to race a 5K fast you have to train fast too. In addition, often.

Focus on 1, vo2 Max Workout Per Week

Speed work is essential if you want to improve your 5k time. Training at your vo2 max is extremely painful as you know Your vo2 max is running at between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. So, you are basically sprinting at these efforts. We can only only spend a few seconds to several minutes at these types of intensities.

Examples of vo2 max workouts are repeat 200s, 300s, mile repeats and 1000m intervals on the track. Again, these types of workouts will help you to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these you can recruit the more efficient you will be able to race. The training plans I have created here will help you to gradually work into better shape.

Remember, the focus is to gradually increase volume and intensity. Interval paces will be slower in the early stages of your build up. In addition, you will have more rest between intervals. Paces will get faster and rest periods between intervals will get shorter as the athlete gets fitter.

Longer Tempo Runs

How to make an average time for 5K great is by extending the length of your tempo runs. Tempo runs are spent training at your anaerobic threshold. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your 5K races? 2 miles? 3? I would recommend working your way toward 6 to 7 miles in length. No, the focus isn't to start doing tempo runs of this length the first few weeks of a build up.

Again, it is going to take some time to get into peak performance shape. So, starting off between 2 to 3 miles may be the best move. Remember, it takes between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to the workouts you are doing. So, be patient with this. The body always adapts. Your 5K race is going to feel even more manageable once you can branch out to around 6 miles for your tempo run.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this post has been helpful to you. I always aim to overdeliver for those athletes who visit this site. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos there every week to help beginner to elite level runners get huge improvements and new personal bests. Remember, focus on all the other fundamentals that go into running a fast 5K.

Mental training is as absolutely a must. Do you desire to be average, good or great? My guess is you want to be great at what you do. So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes daily seeing yourself performing at a high level. Also, visualize yourself running relaxed and getting across the finish line with your goal time on the clock. Average 5K athletes spend little to no time on mental rehearsal.

Good to great athletes are always focusing on it. They know that mental as well as physical preparation is the key to success in this sport. Feeling fatigued constantly? I would consider getting a blood test and have the physician or nurse get your ferritin/iron levels. Normal levels are between 38 to 300 ng/ml. A lot of times runners are running extremely low on iron and don't even know it.

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