If you’ve run a 5 minute mile, you probably have a good idea that this is a very good mile time.
Whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, running a 5 minute mile is undeniably good.
But how good is a 5 minute mile? Is a 5 minute mile good for a woman? Is a 5 minute mile good for a man?
In this article, we will discuss whether a 5 minute mile is good, and what actually constitutes a “good mile time” for different ages, experience levels, and sexes.
We will look at:
- Is a 5 Minute Mile Good?
- Good Mile Times By Age and Sex
Let’s jump in!
Is a 5 Minute Mile Good?
If you’re already able to run a 5 minute mile, you likely know that a 5 minute mile is great.
Running Level reports that a good mile time is 7:04 across all genders, and a good mile time for a male is 6:37, and a good mile time for a female is 7:44. These times are based on an intermediate-level runner.
Therefore, running a 5 minute mile is excellent for men and women, but let’s look more specifically at good mile times by age and sex.
Good Mile Times By Age and Sex
The following tables show mile times for men and women of different ages and experience levels based on the mile time data from Running Level.
Mile Times for Men
When you look at the data above, you can quickly see that running a mile in five minutes is excellent for men of all ages. Running a mile in 5 minutes—or even between 5 and 6 minutes—will put you in the “Advanced” or “Elite” category for every age group.
The closer you are to five minutes, the closer you will be to reaching that “elite“ status, and if you are an older runner, anywhere between five or six minutes for a mile will be an elite-level mile time for your age.But what do these categories mean?
According to Running Level, the categories in the table can be used to describe your experience level as a runner, but they can also provide insight into your relative percentile ranking compared to other runners.
Beginners are better than 5% of runners of your same age and sex.
Novice runners are faster than 20% of runners who are in your age group and sex.
Intermediate runners are faster than about 50% of age- and sex-matched runners.
Advanced runners are faster than 80% of runners in your age group, and elite runners are faster than 95% of runners in your age group.
It is worth mentioning that boys and young men who are competing in the mile on their high school or collegiate track teams who are running a 5 minute mile may not be winning every race.
Many of the top mile runners in these age groups are running much closer to a 4 minute mile if they are winning the championships.
This might make you second-guess whether you are indeed “elite“ or even “advanced“ as a runner, as this mile time data might indicate.
However, when you look at the overall running population, even if you are not winning all of your competitive track races, you are still in the very upper echelon of all runners in your age group.
Keep in mind that “advanced” runners are in roughly the 80th percentile of runners for your age and sex, and “elite” runners are in the 95th percentile, so there will still be some faster runners.
The older you are, especially as you age beyond your prime running years, the more incredible it becomes if you are able to run a 5 minute mile as a man or woman.
Let’s take a look at the miles time for women:
Mile Times for Women
It takes but a brief second to quickly scan the table above to be able to safely assert that running a 5 minute mile is excellent for a woman at any age.
Even in “prime“ age groups, running a mile in 5 minutes or less will put you between the elite and world record categories.
Furthermore, even if you run a mile between 5 and 6 minutes, you will still be above the “elite“ category on this average mile time chart for women.
We can use these two-mile run standards to approximate mile run times, as shown in the table below.
Keep in mind that this data is taken from the standards for running 2 miles. Therefore, theoretically, being able to run just one mile at the pace listed might not put you quite as high in terms of your percentile.
For example, if we look at the top 1% of females in the 32 to 36-year age range, the pace listed is 7:57.
However, this refers to being able to maintain a 7:57 pace for 2 miles (15:54 total time) rather than running one mile all out. Therefore, if you can run right around eight minutes for 1 mile as a woman in the 32 to 36-year age range, you might not be quite in the top 1% of women in your age group.
It’s not really possible to estimate exactly what your percentile would be, but this chart can hopefully provide a little bit of insight into what is a good mile time for your age.
|Top 1% of men||Top 50% of men||Top 1% of women||Top 50% of women|
|42–46 years||7:03||9:54||8:42||No data provided|
|47–51 years||7:12||No data provided||8:48||No data provided|
|52–56 years||7:21||No data provided||9:30||No data provided|
|56–61 years||7:39||No data provided||9:51||No data provided|
Overall, no matter how old you are and what biological sex you are, running a mile in 5 minutes is always super impressive.
You should be proud of your fitness level. Maybe it’s time to start setting your sights on running a 4 minute mile!