Whether you are competing in youth sports, on your high school track team, or at the collegiate level or beyond, you may be interested in running a mile as fast as possible.
But, what is a fast or good mile time? Is a 9 minute mile good for a woman? Is a 9 minute mile good for a man?
In this article, we will discuss whether a 9 minute mile is good, what actually constitutes a “good mile time,” and factors that can affect your mile time.
We will look at:
- Is a 9 Minute Mile Good?
- Factors that Determine a Good Mile Time
- Good Mile Times By Age and Sex
Let’s jump in!
Is a 9 Minute Mile Good?
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.
Therefore, running a 9 minute mile is not quite average for men and women, but let’s look more specifically at factors that determine a good mile time.
Factors that Determine a Good Mile Time
Factors such as your sex, age, and experience level all play into how “good“ your mile time is and how you stack up relative to other runners who are in your same demographics.
Let’s consider each of these factors:
One of the key determinants to deciding whether running a 9 minute mile is good or not is your biological sex.
Note that this may be different from your gender identity.
Biological males tend to be faster than biological females because males have a higher percentage of lean muscle mass and less body fat. This enables them to be stronger and more efficient from a metabolic standpoint during physical activity.With the potential exception of 200 milers or 24-hour ultramarathon races, almost every world record for any distance is faster for men than it is for women, and even at the sub-elite level, the top finisher at most road races is a male runner.
Mile times are no exception, and the mile world record for men is faster than the mile world record for women.
Therefore, when two runners are the same age and have been running for the same amount of time (or have approximately the same experience level and training level), a woman running a 9 minute mile is better than a man running a 9 minute mile.
Of course, also barring any physical disabilities or other extreme cases where the two runners are at markedly different playing fields.
We hit our peak in terms of running performance for the mile somewhere in the 20 to 30 years old age range.
Prior to this, youth and adolescents who are running the mile may not have fully developed skeletal, muscular, hormonal, and neural muscular systems.
Therefore, a 6-year-old running a 9 minute mile is much more impressive than a 25-year-old running a 9 minute mile, with everything else being equal.
We see a precipitous drop off in performance as we age.
Aging brings about a host of physical changes, such as a decrease in lean body mass (sarcopenia), strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity.
Although training and diet can potentially attenuate some of these decrements to some degree, by and large, the older you get, the slower you get.
Thus, running a 9 minute mile is good for a man in his late 50s or early 60s but is not so impressive for a man who is 30 years old.
#3: Experience Level
An often overlooked factor to consider when trying to evaluate if your mile time is good or not is your experience level or how much you have been training.
Beginners and novice runners who have only been running for a short period of time or very inconsistently and really don’t do any formalized training will not have the same physiological adaptations, pacing strategies, and experience as a veteran runner who has been running consistently for years.
It takes time to build up muscular strength and aerobic fitness to run a fast mile and to learn how to properly push yourself and pace yourself evenly over the four laps.
Therefore, running a 9 minute mile is good for beginners who are just getting started or who haven’t been doing a lot of consistent training yet.
On the other hand, if you have been running regularly for several years, running a 9 minute mile won’t be comparatively as impressive as it is for a beginner.
The thinking here is that a beginner will be able to improve more significantly as they become accustomed to running and their body adapts to the demands of the activity.
This is not to say that runners who have been training for years cannot improve their mile time or that running a 9 minute mile is not good for an experienced runner.
Rather, as when discussing sex and age, with everything else being equal, if you can run a 9 minute mile as a beginner on very little training, your performance is relatively better than an experienced runner running a 9 minute mile after targeted mile training.
Good Mile Times By Age and Sex
The following tables show mile times for men and women of different ages and ability levels, as per data from Running Level.
As can be seen, a 9 minute mile time is a good time for novice and beginner men, depending on your age, and can be upwards of advanced for older women.
Mile Times for Men
Mile Times for Women
Remember, if you don’t have a prior history or record mile time because this is the first timed mile you have ever run, then no matter how fast (or slow!) you run a mile, your mile time is good.
Pat yourself on the back and be proud that you have run a mile.
Mark the time down, whether you have just run a 9 minute mile, a 12 minute mile, or upwards of a 20 minute mile. You are a runner, and your performance right here and right now was great.
Now, consider training to run a faster mile. Do you think you can run an 8 minute mile? With training, you can do it!