Average Time to Run 3 Miles | Tips to Master 5K

How do you improve the average time to run 3 miles? It definitely takes consistency. The body will not adapt to the stresses you are placing on it overnight. So, you have to be strategic in how you set up your training. The longer you can prepare for your peak 3 miler the better. The 5K distance involves more speed than endurance. Of course, if you were training for the 10 mile to marathon distances endurance plays a larger role.

That being said, the key tactic is to get that 3 miler pace to feel more like 10k race instead. The only way to produce this effect is to train significantly faster than 5k race pace. How can you teach the body to clear lactic acid more effectively? Speed development. Yes, you still need to build your mileage and improve your endurance as well.

A common mistake I see a lot of runners making is running too fast on their easy days. Remember, the benefits of your hard training is going to come from within the rest. My top recommendation is to consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it. Heart rate monitors will ensure you are running at the correct heart rate.

How Long Does It Take To Run 3 Miles?

It is going to come down to how well you prepare. What percentage of your weekly training are you running at or far below your goal 3 mile race pace? The only way to significantly improve the average time to run 3 miles is to improve your lactate tolerance. Easy running will not do this. Of course, easy running is still necessary to improve over 3 miles.

Yes, you still need endurance. That being said, strength and stamina are absolutely critical to run a faster 2 mile run time or over 3 miles especially. Proper pacing is also highly important. It is very easy to get hyped up in the early stage of any race and go into oxygen debt. So, it is very important to get out aggressive but don’t go out too anaerobic. Again, you want to sustain pace more efficiently than your competition.

How long it takes you to run 3 miles will come down to how effective your training has been. How long did you prepare? I would recommend a minimum of 12 and preferably 16 weeks to fully prepare for an all-out 3 miler or 5K race. The goal is to get you a new personal best. So, that is going to take some calculated and proper training in order to achieve.

Average 3 Mile Run Time by Age

I wouldn’t get too focused on run times by age. Focus 100 percent of your effort on your goal race pace. How can you get that pace to feel more like 10K pace instead? Running is a sport where runners in their 60s and even 70s are running some great times. For example, there is a Irish man who recently ran a 2:30.02 marathon at the age of 62 years old.

I would highly recommend first building your foundational mileage. The main reason is you want to strengthen the joints, ligaments and tendons of the body before working on harder, anaerobic work. In addition, consider introducing strides into your training routine twice per week. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter acceleration drills that will help warm the muscles up. In addition, are great to help work on your form under sub-maximal efforts.

Strides are too short to build up large amounts of lactic acid. So, they won’t tire you out. I have 5k training plans available here for athlete seeking 8 to 16 week training schedules. The 4 areas we focus on within the training plans are..

  • Base-building phase
  • 3 miler race specific training phase
  • Speed development phase
  • Taper phase (focusing on a 10-day rather than 3-week taper)

What is the Best 3-Mile Run Time?

The world record for men for 5,000 meters or 5 kilometers was set in 2020 by Joseph Cheptegei of Uganda who ran 12:35. The pace is 4:03 per mile or 2:31 per kilometer. The world record for women was also set in 2020 by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey who ran a time of 14:06 or 4:32 mile pace. She also held 2:49 per kilometer for the 5 kilometers she ran.

Remember, these are the fastest times in history. So, don’t compare yourself to these outliers. These athletes had to train for several years to get to a point where they could run such splits over 3 miles. Of course, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) is just over the 3-mile run distance. Why do these runners and other top runners in your area make it look so easy?

One main reason is they simply run a higher percentage of the weekly mileage at higher intensities. In fact, the top middle to long distance runners spend about 40% of their weekly volume at or around 85 to 88% of max heart rate. The result is they are able to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. In addition, sustain their race pace longer than their competitors.

Is a 22 Minute 3 Mile Good?

Yes. The majority of runners cannot run this pace. So, the average time to run 3 miles is considerably slower than just over 7 minute mile pace. In fact, 7-minute mile pace is quality running. Of course, the faster you are aiming to cover your chosen race distance the more that is going to be required out of you. You have less time to make a mistake in a 3-mile or 5K race as you do in the marathon.

How to Run a Faster 5K

Focus on explosive acceleration and workouts

Hill repetitions are a great way to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these you can recruit the faster and more economical you are going to race. Easy running will not produce this physiological effect. I have used hills to improve my 5K PR down to 14:18. In addition, incorporated these types of workout into my marathon training as well.

I recommend finding a hill that is anywhere from 150m to 300 meters in length. You can gradually increase pace on the way up and walk on the way down for recovery. Of course, the fitter you become I would focus on all out efforts on the way up and jog on the way down the hill. Also, focus on your form during these effort. So, lift your knees and pump your arms on the way up. You want to also focus on staying as relaxed as you can during these efforts.

Remember, the more relaxed you are the less mental or physical stress is being wasted. Again, you want to be as fluid and in control as you can be especially during your 3 mile race.

Spend More Time On Your Feet

Longer runs burn fat and build endurance. How easy is a 3 mile run going to feel if you have extended your long run out to 10 miles or further? So, focus on doing longer runs as you get in better shape. Yes, you may need to start out running 2 to 3 times a week and work on running more as you get fitter. What is your goal in this distance?

It is to run a sub 20 minute 5K or to earn an Olympic Trials standard? Are you aiming at just focusing on completing your first 5K? We all have different goals. That being said, we have to be committed enough in order to start and finish this race. The good news is that it is only 3 miles. So, just about anyone can do this. Of course, the faster you want to run the more that is going to be required out of you.

Easy, aerobic running just about anyone can do. Faster, anaerobic (without oxygen) running takes heavy work and strong-willed individual. It takes the body anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to the training you are doing. So, be patient with yourself. You will get in much better shape as you stay consistent with your preparation.

Focus on Speed Development

You should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. The key strategy with speed training is to get your goal 3 miler race pace to feel more in control. How can we get that 5K race pace to feel more like 10k race pace instead? Athletes training at vo2 max are running at between 95 to 100 percent of their maximum heart rate. So, this style of running is highly uncomfortable.

The good news is that you get a lot of benefit from running at this intensity. Examples of vo2 max workouts are…

  • Hill repetitions (150m-300m in length)
  • Fartlek intervals ( i.e. 10-20×3 minutes hard followed by 1 min hard)
  • Road or track intervals (4x800m, 6x1mile repetitions, 12x400m etc.)
  • Strides (although short, perfect for working on your leg turnover and speed)

Spend Longer Durations Running at Your Anaerobic Threshold

Tempo runs are a great way to take an average time to run 3 miles and significantly improve the pace. We are running around 85 to 88 percent of max heart rate at our anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in great quantities in the body as we run. It is when lactic acid clearance becomes challenges.

In fact, the body is always producing lactic acid. The reason why we can easily walk or do daily activities is because it is being produced in such low quantities. So, muscle functioning is not hampered. Again, the faster we are aiming to run the more oxygen is required. Also, the more lactic acid is being produced. So, when you go into oxygen debt the hydrogen ion (a component of lactic acid) shuts down muscle ATP (Adenosine Tri-phospate) functioning.

The end result is we start to slow down. The best runners who are training frequently at faster paces are better able to manage this slow down effect. In addition, have taught their bodies to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. So, they are able to maintain their goal race pace longer than the average athete.

Closing Thoughts

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create video content for athletes focused on the 800m all the way to ultra marathon running. I hope that this post on how to improve upon the average time to run 3 miles has been helpful to you. Remember, focus on all the other fundamentals that go into running a great 5K time and you will succeed.

Pay attention to your hydration and nutrition. Also, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and focus on being an optimist rather than being a pessimist. The brain is already hard-wired toward negativity as it is. So, focus on the areas of your preparation you have control of. Mental training should be a regular component of your training. The very best runners visualize success daily. They see themselves getting across the finish line with their goal time on the clock.

How much attention have you paid to mental rehearsal for your races? If you have not, now is the time to start introducing this into your routine. The best time to mentally train is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. So, take 10 to 15 minutes daily and rehearse performing at a high level. Keep me posted on your progress. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background.

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