Although plenty of runners eventually strive to run longer distances, such as a 5k, 10k, or even half marathon or marathon, it can also be exciting and a valuable investment in training time to try to improve your mile time.
But what is a good miel time? Is a 6 minute mile good for a woman? Is a 6 minute mile good for a man?
In this article, we will discuss whether a 6 minute mile is good and what actually constitutes a “good mile time.”
We will look at:
- Is a 6 Minute Mile Good?
- Good Mile Times By Age and Sex
Let’s jump in!
Is a 6 Minute Mile Good?
Although the mile is a very popular distance, there’s a surprising lack of data about what constitutes a “good mile time.”
Running Level, which reports average running times based on age and ability, 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.
So, is a 6 minute mile good for a woman and a man? Yes, running a 6 minute mile is good for both 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, as per the data from Running Level.
According to Running Level, the categories shown can be used to describe your experience level as a runner, but they also can provide insight into your relative percentile ranking compared to other runners.
For example, if your mile time for your age and sex falls within the beginner column, you are better than 5% of runners of your same age and sex.
If your mile time falls within the novice column for your age group, you are faster than 20% of runners who are in your age group and sex.Intermediate runners are right in the middle of the pack, so your mile time here is 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.
This allows us to be able to use this information to determine whether a 6 minute mile is good for men and women of different ages and experience levels.
Mile Times for Men
As can be seen in the data above, running a mile in six minutes is excellent for men of all ages. Running a mile in 6 minutes or less will put you in the “Advanced” or “Elite” category for every age group.
This means that a 6 minute mile falls within the 80th to 95th percentile for men, depending on your age.
If you are running a mile between 6 and 7 minutes (for example, 6:42), you might fall in the “intermediate“ category, depending on your age.
Mile Times for Women
From the data above, it can be seen that running a mile in 6 minutes is excellent for women of all ages.
Running a mile in 6 minutes will put you in the “Elite” category for every age group.
Even if you are running a mile between six and seven minutes (for example, 6:17), you will still likely fall within the “Elite” or “Advanced” category (or somewhere in between the two), depending on your age.
Of course, if you are a competitive track runner competing in the mile at your college or university, or even at the masters level, you might find other women who are just as good if not better than you at your races.
However, when you look at the overall population of runners, the highly-competitive track runners that you are racing are indeed the upper echelon of elite runners like yourself.
Therefore, even if you are running a 6 minute mile and not winning every single race, you are still in the very top tier of runners.
Another source for looking at what constitutes “good mile times” is the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which outlines standards for 2-mile run times for biological males and females of different age groups.
We can use these two-mile run standards to approximate mile run times, as shown in the table below:
|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|
When looking at the mile times listed in this table, all of the times for women are slower than a 7 minute mile, even in the top 1% of females for each age group.
Thus, even though this data is for a pace that you should be able to maintain for 2 miles rather than just 1 mile, it is safe to assume that running a 6 minute mile is good for women (or, more likely, fantastic!).
Even when looking at the mile times for men, we see that 6:30 is the fastest pace listed for the top 1 percent of men in any of the age groups.
As a result, even though we definitely would expect some amount of slowing down to achieve the given paces for the 2 miles in which the data is pulled, we can again assume that running one mile in 6 minutes is very good for men.
Depending on your age group, running a mile in 6 minutes might not land you in the top 1% as this data may indicate (since it’s based on running two miles), but at or near the top 1-5% of all runners in your age group is absolutely great.
Ultimately, running a 6 minute mile is very impressive no matter what age you are or what your biological sex is.
You should be proud of your fitness level and excited about how this bodes for your future as a runner. Ready for your next running goal? Consider setting your sights on running a 5-minute mile! You can do it!