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Certain factors can influence 5K running times, such as age, sex, and level of ability and experience.

A person’s 5K running time is the time that it takes them to run 5 kilometers, which is equivalent to 3.1 miles.

What is an average 5K running time based on age and sex, as well as the times for beginners and more experienced runners? 

What influences your running time?

Experience level, age, natal sex, genetics, and diet are all among the factors that can influence a person’s 5K time.

A person’s environment also seems to play a role, with experts believing that living and training at high altitudes may benefit running performance.

A 2018 study suggests that people’s running pace gradually declines with age, up to the late 70s. It suggests that by the age of 90 years, a person is slightly less than half as fast as they were during their peak performance stage.

According to a 2018 article in Endocrine Reviews, differences between the athletic performance of males and females are largely due to circulating testosterone levels, which affect muscle mass, strength, and hemoglobin levels.

Strength training has been shown to improve running performance when compared to those that did not complete any additional training.

The terrain on which people run may also affect their running times. For those who run outdoors, weather conditions can also be a factor to consider.

Beginners vs. experienced runners

According to the American Council on Exercise, a beginner may complete their first 5K run in 30 minutes if they follow a training plan lasting 8–10 weeks.

However, anecdotal sources online give slower times for beginners. They suggest that females run, on average, at a pace of 13 minutes per mile with a finish time of about 42 minutes and that males run about 11 minutes per mile with a finish time of close to 35 minutes.

For more experienced runners, running blogs and websites suggest an average 8-minute-per-mile pace, resulting in a finish time of about 26 minutes.

Very advanced runners may be able to complete a 5K in less than 20 minutes.

For professional runners, the 2020 world records for running an outdoor 5K are currently 12 minutes (mins) and 51 seconds (secs) for males and 14 mins 44 secs for females.

Average time by age and sex

The scientific data reporting average 5K times for amateur runners are scant.

However, one source provides average 5K times for males and females in different age categories.

The data, which appear below, come from 1,283 5K races that took place in the United States. The completion time is the average of the median completion times for small, medium, large, and very large race sizes.

Males

Age group Time (minutes and seconds)
20–29 16:45
30–39 17:41
40–49 18:13
50–59 19:31
60–69 22:36
70–79 29:13

Females

Age group Time (minutes and seconds)
20–29 20:15
30–39 20:58
40–49 21:36
50–59 24:03
60–69 29:17
70–79 48:31

How to improve running time

According to the American Council on Exercise, people may be able to improve their running time and reduce their risk of injury by combining different workouts.

They suggest that a person include strength training, endurance runs, speed runs, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts in their training plan. Allowing days for rest and recovery is also important.

Have you checked out our SPC Running Beast? Our FREE running programme available for download now

We have seen men and women improve their running performance after joining either of our SPC Men and SPC Women programmes. 

Additionally, our personal training members receive specific exercises adapted for their own goals which often includes a number of injury reduction strategies.