How long does it take to run a 5k? Whether you’re mapping out your plan to start training, or whether you’re wondering if your 5k time matches up with other runners, we’ve got all the information you need right here.
In this post we’re going run through . . .
- Average 5k times
- What the fastest 5k times in the world are
- Reasonable 5k times for beginner runners
- Our top tips for training for your 5k, then running your best effort!
By the way, 5 kilometers is 3.11 miles – it’s often the case that 5k and 3 miles are used interchangably since the distance between them is so close!
Let’s jump in!
How Long Does it Take to Run a 5k?
Just like no thumb print in the world is alike, no runners are exactly alike either. Your 5k run time depends on a few factors:
- Have you been running for a while or are you just starting out?
- Will you be running the whole thing or walking for part of it?
- What is your physical condition?
Some other factors include:
- Your height
- Your weight
- How you’re feeling on race day (restedness, preparedness)
- your running shoes
- The weather during your run (runners in hot weather tend to move more slowly than cooler weather)
Now that you know about all the little things that can affect your running speed during a 5k, we’ll answer all your questions about running a 5k.
How long is a 5k in miles?
5k is short for 5 kilometers. One mile is the same as 1.6 kilometers. So a 5k run is 3.1 miles.
That’s good news for you as a beginner runner, since 3 seems much more achievable than 5!
How long does it take to run 3 miles?
Here’s the answer to the big question of the day. First, I’ll show you some differnt times that different levels of runners have finished their 5k.
Fastest 5k time: Joshua Cheptegei is the current world champion for the fastest 3 mile run. He finished at 12:35:36 in Monaco, August 2020.
Keep in mind this is the fastest 5k speed. Let’s take a look at the average runner’s pace for running just one mile.
Average Mile speed: The average runner’s mile speed is 9.5-10 minutes per mile.
Average 5k time: Based on the average runner’s mile speed, we can calculate that the average 3 miles speed is 28-32 minutes.
5k run times broken down: If 28-32 minutes is the average 5k speed for a person who has been training, let’s break that down to see what it looks like on smaller levels.
For a runner who jogs steadily at a 10-minute mile pace, a 5k takes 30 minutes to finish.
If you are walking the 5k, it will take about 45 minutes.
If you run off and on during your 5k, it will take 35-40 minutes.
What is a good 5k time for a beginner?
If you’ve been training steadily on a couch to 5k plan, aim for a finishing time of 30 minutes.
If you’re thinking, I just don’t see how I could run without stopping for 30 minutes, I have good news: you don’t have to!
Check out this article on the Jeff Galloway run walk method. This method shows that you can still finish at 30 minutes (or even less) by running and walking through the race.
Sometimes running straight through the race can exhaust your body. When you walk, the purpose is to give your body a rest so it can recover. By following the training methods in the article just mentioned, you can optimize that recovery period to help you run even faster during your running periods.
Benefits of Running a 5k
Running a 5K is a huge milestone in your running adventure. It represents the first of many runs to come.
Finishing a 5K means you conquered your obstacles to running a mile, then running 2 miles, then running in an actual group race.
Crossing that finish line means achieving a dream that you worked for. But that’s the key word: work. Getting to a 5K requires dedication to your goal and the persistence to make it happen.
Here are some other benefits of running a 5k:
Running is one of the most convenient forms of exercise.
Sure, as you advance to running longer and upping your speed, you’ll want to gather more gear and more tips and tricks. But when you’re just starting out, all you need is a good pair of shoes, a bottle of water, and you’re good to go.
Running is inexpensive.
There is no need for a gym membership or any fancy, expensive equipment. Most runners like to have a good pair of earbuds that won’t fall out of their ears while running. You’ll want some clothes that don’t absorb too much sweat while you run (a cheap, $10 pair of shorts will do the job). Beyond that, other gear is unnecessary.
Your training will inspire you to eat healthier.
When you’re putting the work into training for a 5k, it will be much easier to say no to a quick candybar or fast food burger. You’ve been working hard – why throw it all away for a brief pleasure?
Running has a multitude of health benefits as well:
- It’s good for your heart health
- It can lower the risk of cancer
- It can help you lose weight fast
- It’s a great boost to your mental health and has been proven to lower the effects of depression and anxiety
- It becomes an amazing hobby once you get over the “beginner’s hump”
How to Run Your First 5k Race
Follow these 5k run tips to make the most of your first 5k and have a great time – during the training and the actual race day.
Develop a Warmup Routine
Pencil in 10 minutes of warmup time before every run. With the goal of getting your blood pumping faster, move as much as you can in that time.
Here is an example of an effective warmup workout.
- High kicks: Perform these like you’re marching, but kicking your legs up as high as they’ll go while you do it.
- Hip openers: Raise your leg like you’re about to do a high kick, then butterfly your knee away from your body so the upper leg makes a circle before going back down.
- Cycling: If your training track or park is near your house, consider cycling there, locking up your bike, and then doing your training. Cycling also has many benefits to runners as a cross-training.
- Jumping jacks: Get your whole body moving using big motions as you swing your arms and legs out, then back in again.
A 5 Step Guide on How to Run a 5K
Here are the 5 essential steps that need to happen to make your 5K schedule a success.
Step 1: Sign Up for a Race
This is an absolute must. When you have a date, and a plan to run with other people, the idea becomes a reality. Once you sign up and pay for your spot, you know it’s time to start training.
A typical couch to 5k plan lasts for 9 weeks. If you’re starting out at an intermediate level, you can plan for 4-8 weeks.
Just don’t cut your training short. It’s better to have an extra week of wiggle room to make sure you’re ready. Your first 5K experience should be a positive one. That’s only possible if you’re prepared and fit to finish the race.
Step 2: Download a Training Plan
Even if you’re the type of person who goes with the flow and wings it, I don’t recommend training for a race without a plan.
Here are 3 reasons why.
- You might get going too slowly so that you’re not ready by the time race day arrives.
- You might start off too fast and get injured, causing you to drop out.
- Without a plan, you’re likely to skip more days, which negatively affects your progress and fitness level.
Step 3: Establish a run walk method
Most training plans will outline a strategy for segments of running and walking, but if not you need a strategy.
Make a set time for yourself to run and a cool down period to walk before you run again. To do that, jog at a comfortable pace for as long as you can. Set a timer while you do it. Then you’ll know a steady length of time to jog when you’re first starting out.
Each week, increase that jogging time and decrease the walking time.
Step 4: Work on Your Diet
Eating right and running go hand in hand. Your regular food habits will directly affect the outcome of your 5K training.
While there’s no diet regimen you must follow, take care to be conscious that you’re focusing on vegetables and lean protein. Eat carbohydrates before your runs to keep you energized, and stay away from drinking too much alcohol (especially the night before a run).
Step 5: Plan a Weekly Strength Workout
While running is typically considered a cardio exercise, you activate plenty of muscles that propel your body forward. The main muscle groups are your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
If you’re not a fan of the gym, there are plenty of bodyweight workouts you can do to build up the strength you need for running.
Uphill running is effective too. Designating an uphill run once a week is a great way to become a stronger runner.
Related: How To Run 5k in 18 Minutes
Make it Happen
Now that you have all the necessary knowledge, it’s time to put it into action. Start with this guide on how to run a 5k in 30 minutes and start today!
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