What Is A Good Time For A 5K?

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Perhaps you are a beginner runner, or maybe you want to improve your running times. Either way, a 5K time is one of the benchmarks for many runners. Knowing the average finish time can help you judge where you are on your running journey. 

So what is a good time for a 5K?

If we take some very broad baseline fitness levels, a “good 5K time” for an intermediate male runner (30 years old) is 22:31. An average good time for a woman of the same age is around 26:07. However, this time depends heavily on other factors like age, health status, genetics, environment, fitness level, running experience, and nutrition. 

Although there are many factors to consider whether you are running a good 5k time, running is also a very personal sport, making comparing difficult. The goal should ultimately be only to use time as a guideline and improve as much as possible on your timings. 

What Is A Good Time For A 5K?

What is a good time for a 5K?

An average time to complete a 5k is usually between 30 and 40 minutes, but there is quite some variation involved. Various factors play a role in a 5k run time. These include gender, age, fitness level, and running experience.

If you were to take an average running club time, it would be a lot faster – certainly under 25 minutes.

Why?

Because a running club consists of runners who are objectively more dedicated to running than the average Joe in the street. This skews the numbers considerably.

The reality is that a “good time” is relative to your expectations and training.

5k Run Time Influenced By Age

Age is probably one of the most obvious ways your run times can differ. What may be surprising is that sometimes older runners have better 5k times than younger runners. For instance, in the age category 0 to 15, the average for a 5k is 34:43. 

The time drops quite significantly to about 29 minutes in the age group 16 to 24 years. It increases gradually with a few minutes as age increases, going to 37:33 for ages 55 to 59 years. It is important to note these running times are men’s averages.   

In general, younger runners tend to have quicker 5K times. Running pace seems to gradually decrease with increasing age, with older experienced individuals still running in their 70s. However, a more senior, more experienced runner can definitely outpace them. 

Yo can use an age graded calculator to compare relative times across different age groups.

At a recreational level, dedication and training will trump both age and gender in a foot race.

5K Run Time Influenced By Gender

The following chart shows some 5k timers per gender with various age groups.

AgeMen’s 5K TimesWomen’s 5K Times
0-1534:4337:55
25-2931:0936:16
35-3933:4437:21
45-4933:1339:19
55-5937:3345:18

You can see that the times for women are slower than for men in all age groups. The difference between men and women in running times is believed to be due to physical differences, like heart size, hormone levels, blood volume, and muscle fiber type. 

Experts suggest the main reason for the difference in performance between men and women is circulating testosterone levels. This positively affects muscle strength, mass, and blood volume levels required for a quicker run. 

Research indicates that women tend to close the gap during longer races like ultramarathons. However, it is interesting that the time does not increase as drastically for women as it does for men from ages 25-29 to 35-39. 

Group of runners

Fitness Level And Ability Influences A Good 5K Time

Running ability can be divided into beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite. There is great variety in 5k running times between these levels. For example, a man 30 years old as a beginner may run a time of 31:29, but the same-age man at the intermediate level may run 22:31. 

Running ability increases over time and experience. A beginner runs faster than 5% of runners and has probably been running for about a month. An intermediate runner is about 50% faster than others and has running experience of at least two years. 

A very advanced runner can do a 5k in less than 20 minutes. That’s considered an excellent time and the barrier to entry to “club level” – but not a good comparison for the average runner. Even more extreme, professional runners that compete for world records have run a 5k in 12:35 (male) and 14:06 (female). 

Trust us, Joshua Cheptegei isn’t Googling: “Is my 12:35 a good 5K time?”

He’s got the medals to sleep confidently at night!

Fastest 5k runner

A runner’s level of training can play a significant role in their 5k run time. An intensive schedule will only help build strength and stamina, resulting in quicker times. If you are someone who only runs for fun and doesn’t take it too seriously, then you can expect an average or slower 5k. 

A good leading indicator of ‘race shape’ is your VO2 Max. The higher the score, the faster you will run a 5K (with a few exceptions).

Other Factors That Influence 5K Time

The runner’s environment can affect their run times. Living in, and especially training in, high altitudes can benefit a runner’s performance. Therefore, it is important to consider your living setting when making a 5k run goal time. 

Genetics can also play a role in running times. Some people are predisposed to be able to run at a higher performance level. Other factors that you may often overlook include daily hydration and nutrition as well as good sleep patterns. 

A balanced healthy diet will help any athlete perform their best. Enough sleep, as well as good quality sleep, will also benefit runners to go that extra mile in terms of stamina and endurance.  

Previous injuries or underlying health conditions affect your running time. Injuries acquired while training or even running will also slow you down. However, recovering properly from any health issues is more important before putting your body through the stress of running a 5k. 

How you prepare for race day can have a dramatic effect on your ability to hit that personal best. The same applies to your pacing strategy!

How Can You Get A Good 5K Time?

If your training consists of only running, you may want to consider doing different kinds of workouts in between runs. Other exercises can include strength training, HIIT workouts, and dividing your runs into speed and endurance runs. 

This training can help you improve your 5k running time to get a good time. Another factor is gear, specifically shoes. A good pair of running shoes can really help improve running economy by being light and specifically designed for running. 

Overall, having a healthy diet, staying hydrated, resting enough, and allowing for recovery will also enable your running time to improve over time. Endurance and strength take time to build up, so patience and dedication would be the key to getting a good 5k time. 

See our guide: how long does it take to improve a 5K time?

Our Verdict on Good 5K Times

At an intermediate level, a good 5k time for men is around 22 or 23 minutes. For women, it is slightly higher, with an average of 26 minutes.

Several factors like age, gender, fitness level, genetics, and nutrition play a role in what a good 5k run time would be for an individual. 

Ultimate, a good 5K time is one that is slightly better than your last.

Incremental progress is the goal of any athlete. It doesn’t matter where you stand in the sea of averages, only that you’re taking your own times in the right direction.

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