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What’s A Good 800m Time? Average 800m Times By Age + Sex

We'll explore good and average times to run 800m based on age, sex, and fitness level, as well as world record times and how to improve your own 800m time.

In track and field, there are a wide variety of events and race distances, such as the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter sprints, as well as hurdles, throws, relays, cross country, and so on.

The 800-meter event is considered a middle-distance event where both speed and endurance play a part. It takes place on a 400-meter track.

To a sprinter, it might be considered a long sprint, whereas to endurance runners, it might be a short long-distance race. In this sense, it is a test of both anaerobic and aerobic fitness.

As runners, we tend to compare ourselves to others regarding time and distance averages to see how we stack up with our peers. By doing this, we can get an idea of where we stand regarding fitness level for our age group and sex.

A runner on a track.

What Factors Can Impact Your 800-Meter Time? 

Deciding what’s a good 800m time depends on several factors, such as age, sex, ability, and fitness level. 

Regarding sex, most male runners genetically have more muscle mass and fast twist muscle density, which makes them faster runners overall in most distances.

Age will also affect our 800-meter time as research suggests that the prime running age category is between 25-35, and performance starts to decline after 35.1August 2017 – Volume 31 – Issue 8 : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. (n.d.). Journals.lww.com. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2017/08000/Running_Performance

The good news is performance declines gradually, so there’s still plenty of time for some excellent running after 35 years old and beyond!

Our fitness level will affect our running in general and our 800-meter time. However, fitness levels are one of the factors that we can actually control, unlike age and sex. You can improve your 800m time with specific training, hard work, and dedication.

Runners on a track.

Typical 800m Times By Age, Sex, and Ability

Defining Running Ability Levels

To define the ability levels we’ve included, we used Jack Tupper Daniels’ VDOT Levels (based on VO2 max).

Daniels provides predicted times across different distances for each of the VDOT Levels for men and women (available here), which we’ve used in our table as the benchmark times for the 18-39 age range.2Achieving running performance levels based on VDOT and age categories. (n.d.). Human Kinetics. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/achieving-running-performance-levels-based-on-vdot-and-age-categories

Here’s how we’d define each of the levels listed in our table, along with the VDOT that Daniels assigns to them:

  • Beginner (Male VDOT 35/Female VDOT 31.4): By beginner, we’re not referring to somebody straight off the couch with no training, as there’s too much variation in terms of baseline fitness and physique to provide a useful guideline time. Instead, we’d consider a beginner as someone relatively new to middle-distance running, perhaps entering their first race, but taking their training fairly seriously with a decent base level of fitness. However, they lack experience in building an effective training program, pacing themselves during a race, and may not have developed proper technique.
  • Novice (VDOT 40/35.8): Someone running casually but with increasing experience and commitment to training. They’ve completed several races at this distance, and are looking to improve their PB in each one.
  • Intermediate Recreational (VDOT 50/44.6): Someone taking running increasingly seriously who has difficulty beating their previous PBs. They might have joined an athletics club or started training with a running coach, and while they’re unlikely to be competing for local race victories, they’re hoping to finish high up the field.
  • High-Level Recreational (VDOT 60/53.4): An 800m runner who trains seriously with a professional coach, and who is among the top-performing runners in their athletics club and competing for victories in local races. They are likely approaching the peak of their potential performance, with a substantial time investment in training each week.
  • Sub-Elite (VDOT 70/62.2): They are one of the strongest runners in their region, and may even compete nationally, although they’re unlikely to compete for the top positions.
  • National Class (VDOT 75/66.6): They are one of the finest middle-distance runners in their country, competing for victories against all but the very best athletes in the sport. They likely run either full-time as a professional, or they make a flexible job fit around their training.
  • Elite (VDOT 80/71): They are at the pinnacle of the sport, competing for victories at the most prestigious races and representing their country at major international events.

Typical 800m Times for Men by Age and Ability

Age GroupBeginnerNoviceIntermediate RecreationalHigh-Level RecreationalSub-EliteNational ClassEliteWorld Record
18-393:373:132:382:141:571:501:441:40
40+3:543:282:512:252:061:591:521:48
45+3:573:302:522:262:082:001:531:49
50+4:163:483:062:382:182:102:031:58
55+4:253:553:132:432:232:142:072:02
60+4:384:073:222:522:302:212:132:08
65+4:494:173:302:582:362:262:182:13
70+5:044:303:413:082:442:342:262:20
75+5:264:503:573:212:562:452:362:30
80+5:495:114:143:363:082:572:472:41

Typical 800m Times for Women by Age and Ability

Age GroupBeginnerNoviceIntermediate RecreationalHigh-Level RecreationalSub-EliteNational ClassEliteWorld Record
18-393:593:332:552:292:102:021:561:53
40+4:123:443:042:372:172:082:021:59
45+4:183:503:092:412:202:122:052:02
50+4:394:093:242:542:322:232:162:12
55+4:544:223:353:032:402:302:232:19
60+5:004:283:403:072:432:332:262:22
65+5:365:004:063:303:032:522:432:39
70+6:005:204:233:443:163:042:552:50
75+6:365:524:504:073:353:223:123:07
80+7:246:365:254:374:023:473:363:30

How We Produced This Data

The tables above have been carefully created to give our readers performance benchmarks and to enable comparisons of relative performance adjusted for age and sex.

As mentioned above, we used Jack Tupper Daniels’ VDOT Levels and associated predicted performances in our table as the benchmark times for the 18-39 age range.

For the age-graded world records, we’ve used the official records ratified by the World Association of Masters Athletes (WMA), correct as of 18 March 2024.3List of world records in masters athletics. (2023, November 16). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_records_in_masters_athletics

To translate the times for ability levels across different age grades, we used our 18-39 benchmark times to establish each ability level as a percentage of the world record for a given age group.

For example, our “elite” men’s 800m time for the 18-39 range was 1:44, which is 104% of the world record of 1:40.

So, when calculating the “elite” times for other age grades, we multiplied the respective world records by 104%. We replicated this approach across all of the listed ability levels.

It should be noted that this method does create some inconsistencies, with the performance gaps between certain age groups being larger than others because a particular world record happens to be an outlier.

However, we found the resulting data more reliable and with a more accurate representation of performance drop relative to age than we achieved when comparing our results to existing age-grade calculators.

Runners on a track.

What Is A Good 800m Time For A 15-Year-Old High School Athlete?

There is no set ‘good’ time, some might consider anything less than 3:00 or 3:15 to be above average for a high school freshman.4800 meter Run Anaerobic Test. (n.d.). Www.topendsports.com. https://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/800m-run.htm

However, it is worth bearing in mind that the impressive freshman world record of 1:49.84 is less than 10 seconds off the world record time for all ages.5FloTrack. (2024, May 3). U.S. High School Freshman Class RECORD! Cooper Lutkenhaus Runs Insane 1:49.84 800m At UIL 5A States. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQSap33QDjw&ab_channel=FloTrack

What are the Current 800 Meter World Records? 

According to World Athletics, the current 800-meter world record was set by David Rudisha from Kenya at the Olympic Stadium in London on August 9, 2012. The time is a blazing 1:40.91.6World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. https://worldathletics.org/records/by-progression/951

The women’s 800-meter world record is still currently held by Czechoslovakian runner Jarmila Kratochvílová at 1:53.28. It was set in Munich, Germany, on July 26, 1983. 

Tips To Improve Your 800 Meter Time 

#1: Train Your Top Speed 

Short-distance, high-intensity interval training will help improve your top speed, cadence, and running form. As your fitness and speed improve, that will carry over to shaving down your 800m time.

As 800 meters is a middle distance, choose workouts that include even shorter repetitions with complete rest in between.

Here are some examples of short intervals to add to your training plan to help you get faster.

Be sure to perform these workouts as track workouts or on a flat surface where you won’t need to stop for traffic or any other obstacles.

200-meter repetitions 

  1. Warm-up 10-15 minutes at an easy, conversation pace with 5 x 10-second strides
  2. Run 10-12 x 200 meters hard with 2 minutes of total rest in between each one 
  3. Cooldown 10-15 minutes 

400-meter repetitions 

  1. Warm-up 10-15 minutes at an easy, conversation pace with 5 x 10-second strides
  2. Run 6-8 x 400 meters hard with 3-4 minutes of total rest in between each one
  3. Cooldown 10-15 minutes 
A person running up a hill.

#2: Include Hillwork 

As a great compliment to interval training on a track or flat surface, hillwork is also a great way to increase your speed, power, and running economy. 

Here is an example of a short hill sprint workout to get you started.

  1. Warm-up: Jog for 10-15 minutes at an easy, comfortable pace
  2. Sprint 5 seconds uphill at an effort of 9+ on the RPE scale. 
  3. Walk back down to your starting point. 
  4. Rest completely for 1-2 minutes until your heart rate has stabilized and you are ready to go again.
  5. Repeat 8-12 times.
  6. Cool down: Jog for 5-10 minutes.

As your fitness improves, increase the sprint time to a maximum of 10 seconds.

For more hill workouts, check out our complete guide here.

If you live in a flat area and don’t have access to hills, you can always perform these workouts on a treadmill. Most treadmills can create a 15% grade incline.

A person holding a barbell.

#3: Strength Train 

Many runners dread hitting the gym, but it is fundamental to fitness. It will turn you into a powerhouse of strength and power while helping reduce your risk of injury. 

Include two strength training sessions per week in your training plan. 

Focus on compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, hip thrusters, planks, and calf raises. 

You can also add plyometric exercises to your sessions to increase power, such as jump squats, jump lunges, box jumps, skaters, and long jumps.

So, are you ready to get training to improve that 800-meter time? To get you started, we have a complete strength training session here for you to try out on your next trip to the gym.

People running on a track.

How Long is 800 Meters?

800 meters is 0.8 of a kilometer and approximately half a mile. On a standard outdoor 400-meter track, 800 meters is two complete laps around the track. 

In an 800-meter race, runners begin the race in the separate lanes of the track. After they fly off the starting line and reach the very first bend on the track, they can bunch together in the inner lanes.

Running on the inner lane of the track is the shortest distance to the finish line. Therefore, if you are planning to test your 800m time, ensure you run on the inner lane of the track for the most accurate results.

People running on a track.

References

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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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