What’s A Good 5k Time? Average Times To Run A 5k By Age + Sex

One of the first significant running benchmarks is the all-famous 5k.

There is an excellent variety of Couch to 5k programs out there to get you started on your first running journey.

Still, for those who are more experienced, you may want to ask the burning question, what’s a good 5k time? 

According to a study conducted by Run Repeat, including over 70,000 events from 1986 to 2018, running 5k races has become one of the most popular distances in racing.

In 2018 alone, 2.9 million people participated in 5k races. 

Based on all of that data, we have a pretty good idea of what a good 5k time is.

In this article, we are going to get into the nitty-gritty of 5ks, and everything that comes along with them:

  • How long is a 5k?
  • What are the current fastest 5k time records? 
  • What’s a good 5k time?
  • What are the recent average 5k times by age and sex?
  • 7 tips for training for and improving your current 5k time 


Let’s jump in!

What's A Good 5k Time

How Long Is A 5k?

5k is 3.107 miles, 5000 meters, or 12.5 laps around an Olympic-sized track.

It is also 16,404.2 feet or 5,468 yards.

What Are the Current Fastest 5k Times?

The current world record holder for 5000 meters in the men’s category is Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, with a time of 12:35.36.

On August 14, 2020, this record was set in the Stade Louis II in Monaco.

As for a 5k road race, the current men’s record is 12:49, held by Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi. This recent record was set on December 31, 2021.

Now, on to the women.

The current 5000-meter world record holder is Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, with a time of 14:06.62. She set this record on October 7, 2020, in the Estadio de Atletismo del Turia in Valencia, Spain.

In a 5k road race, the current record holder in Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye with a time of 14:19. This record was set on December 31, 2021, in Barcelona, Spain.

If you’re anything like me, I imagine you are sitting there, jaw dropped and in awe at these unbelievable world record times.

Let’s move on to something a bit more achievable for most of us and see how we stack up to average 5k times.

Related: What’s A Good Marathon Time? Average Marathon Times By Age + Sex

runners legs at the start point of a good 5k time

What’s A good 5k Time?

Your 5k time will depend significantly on several factors, including your current fitness level, experience, current training cycle, nutrition, and so on.

The data set we referenced, which calculates running times based on age and ability, says that a good 5k time for a man is 22:31, and a good 5k time for a woman is 26:07. 

How do you compare to those times?

Let’s break it down more.

What Are The Current Average 5k Times By Age and Sex?

Running Level breaks down “good” 5k times by sex, age, and level, including beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite. 

So you have an idea of the definition of each running level according to Running Level, let’s take a look at an explanation of each one:

  • Beginner runners are defined as faster than 5% of other runners and have run for at least one month.
  • Novice runners are defined as faster than 20% of runners and have been running for at least six months.
  • Intermediate runners are defined as faster than 50% of other runners and have run regularly for two years.
  • Advanced runners are defined as faster than 80% of other runners and have more than five years of running experience.
  • Elite runners are defined as faster than 95% of other runners and have over five years of running experience, and have dedicated themselves to competing in the sport professionally.
2 runners out running a 5k

We will take a look at the average times for each of these levels in the following tables:

Average 5k Times: Male

Age Group: MaleBeginnerNoviceIntermediateAdvancedElite
a woman running a 5k and smiling

Average 5k Times: Female

Age Group: FemaleBeginnerNoviceIntermediateAdvancedElite
table showing average 5k times

So, which category do you fit into?

Beginner, novice, maybe even advanced?

No matter how you stack up to other runners, running is a very personal sport, and no matter how fast we run our 5k, we always want to run faster.

Few runners aren’t interested in constantly beating their current PRs or personal bests.

We mainly compete against ourselves and strive to be the best we can be, individually speaking.

Or maybe you are getting up there on the podium and want to secure that spot!

Either way, you want to get better for sure, so keep on reading to check out these 7 tips to improve your 5k time.

what's a good 5 time - runners legs

7 Tips to Improve Your 5k Time

#1: Know Your Estimated Race Pace

It’s challenging to improve our race times and paces if we don’t know exactly where we are with our current fitness level and what we should be shooting for. 

If you are already working on improving your 5k, you have most likely run a few 5k races before and already have a specific race time you are working towards beating.

If you don’t already have a previous time to beat but still want to work toward a specific goal, there are other ways to figure out your current potential 5k race pace. 

To obtain this piece of vital information, you can either take a mile test or 3k test. 

Not only will these tests give you your estimated 5k race pace (along with 10k, half-marathon, and marathon estimates as well), but they will give you your specific training zones.

These training zone paces are what you use for your everyday workouts specified by your running coach.

The paces used each day will reflect the specific objective of that particular workout whether it be speed, endurance, recovery, etc. 

What's A Good 5k Time

Before we get into specific training details, let’s take a look at how to take the tests to estimate your 5k race pace:

Mile Test:

If you are not accustomed to taking tests, the mile test is the best one to start with as it is short and sweet. It is easier to judge and distribute your effort level than a 3k test because it is a shorter distance and there is less chance of burnout. 

The best place to take a mile test is on a standard-sized track. Each lap is 400 meters long, so your full mile would be four laps on the 400-meter track (+9 meters at the end). 

  1. Warm up for 15 minutes by jogging at an effortless pace.
  2. Perform 5 minutes of dynamic stretching such as Frankensteins, butt kicks, tabletops, hurdles, and walking on your tiptoes and then heels.
  3. Run one mile as fast as you can without burning out. I suggest negative splits, meaning run each 400-meter lap a little bit faster than the last. 
  4. Take your total time and plug it into this pace calculator.

If you are a bit more experienced as a runner and have taken tests before, you can go ahead and take the 3k test.

5k runner at sunrise

3k Test:

Running a 3k test is a bit trickier but more accurate. It’s harder to judge and distribute your effort level without burning out or, on the contrary, finishing with too much gas left in the tank.

My advice is to start out a bit slower than you think you can run the 3 kilometers and increase your speed as you finish each lap, running your last lap all out! 

On a standard 400-meter lap track, you need to run 7 and ½ laps to complete the 3 kilometers. 

  1. Warm up for 15 minutes by jogging at an effortless pace.
  2. Perform 5 minutes of dynamic stretching such as Frankensteins, butt kicks, tabletops, hurdles, and walking on your tiptoes and then heels. 
  3. Run 3 kilometers as fast as you can without burning out
  4. Take your total time and plug it into this pace calculator.

Of course there are other tests, such as the 5k test, that you can take. The longer the test, the more accurate your results will be, as long as you can take the test properly and distribute your energy efficiently.

You can also use a race as a test, if the distance is well-measured out, and the terrain flat.

What's A Good 5k Time

Let’s take a look at an example of the results of an intermediate level 3k test, the estimated 5k race pace, and training paces: 

3k total test time: 17:00 (5:40 pace per kilometer or 9:07 pace per mile) 

This would mean the estimated total 5k race time would be 29:05.

3k total test time: 17:00
Pace Per KilometerPace Per Mile
5k Race Pace Estimate: 5:49/km9:22/mile
Easy Pace 6:53-7:33/km 11:04 – 12:08/mile
Marathon Pace 6:31/km10:29/mile
Threshold Pace 5:55/km9:31/mile
Interval Pace 5:18/km8:32/mile
Repetition Pace 4:58/km8:00/mile

Now that we have our estimated 5k race time and training paces, let’s improve our 5k time using this data for training purposes.

What's A Good 5k Time

#2 Include Fast Intervals In Your Training Plan

As a 5k is usually run at an intense effort level and pace, it is imperative that parts of your training include intervals faster than your estimated 5k race pace.

Add one day of fast intervals into your training plan using interval and/or repetition pace. Here are a few examples of workouts that can help improve your speed and running economy for your 5k using these two paces: 

  • 8 x 400 meters at repetition pace with 3-4 minutes of complete rest in between each.
  • 6 x 600 meters at interval pace with 2-3 minutes recovery jog between each.
  • 5 x 1 kilometer at interval pace with a 5-minute recovery jog between each. 

Remember to warm up thoroughly before each of these workouts with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging followed by dynamic stretching exercises. You never want to begin interval training on cold legs as you can risk injury (then you’ll have to hang up your running shoes and take up a sport like golf instead…).

a woman running hard on the road

#3 Work Your 5k Race Pace

When training for a marathon, most runners include bouts of race pace into their long runs or workouts during the week.

We can do the same with a 5k.

Increase the quantity of time in race pace as your training progresses so that you feel more and more comfortable running at that specific pace. 

Remember, 5k races are run a bit faster than your Threshold pace, so no, it never feels easy; it just becomes a bit more tolerable! 

Here is an example of a long-run race pace progression you can use while training for your 5k. Each week, increase your 5k race pace bouts by about 30 seconds. 

  • 60-minute long run at Easy Pace with 10 x 30 seconds at 5k race pace.
  • 60-minute long run at Easy Pace with 10 x 1 minute at 5k race pace.
  • 60-minute long run at Easy Pace with 10 x 1:30 minute at 5k race pace.
What's A Good 5k Time

#4 Improve Your Cadence

We’ve heard a million times that 180 steps per minute are the “ideal” stride rate or cadence for your running.

More realistically, anything over 170 will help improve your running economy

When running, we can work our turnover by using a metronome or music with 180 beats per minute, hitting each foot to the pavement on each beat.

Be careful with playlists, as some are named 180 BPM but are not always accurate. You can check the songs with this BPM counter app. 

Include small bouts of cadence work into one of your easy runs, just a few minutes here and there to get those feet moving.

Focusing on your cadence is tiring as you will tend to speed up without even meaning to, so just add it in every once in a while. 

You can work your cadence by adding strides, or gradual accelerations and decelerations, into one of your easy runs per week. For a closer look at strides, check out our guide here.

Here are some examples of workouts where you can include strides: 

  • 30-minute easy run with 10 x 10-second strides 
  • 45-minute easy run with 8 x 15-second strides

Be sure to leave enough time in between each stride to ensure your heart rate lowers and you recover, before adding in the next burst.

What's A Good 5k Time

#5 Lift Weights

As a running coach, I am a stickler for gym time for my runners

While cross training exercises like yoga and cycling are great for your fitness, if you want the best bang-for-your-buck as a runner….hit the weights.

There are endless benefits such as improving strength, mobility, balance, reaction time, power, speed, and I could go on and on.

It also decreases the risk of injury, therefore definitely worth the time and effort. 

All you need to do is to add two short strength training sessions a week into your training program, and you don’t even need to go to the gym.

You can do running-specific functional training from the comfort of your own home using just your body weight or some resistance bands. You’ll be amazed at how much you can do with little equipment.

Of course, if you have access to some more exercise implements, such as kettlebells, dumbbells, or a suspension device even better. This can allow you to add more variety to your strength training workouts.

Some of the exercises runners should include in their strength training plan are:

  • Lunges (bodyweight, front, reverse, side, weighted by adding dumbells) 
  • Squats (bodyweight, goblet, isometric, weighted by adding dumbells) 
  • Glute Bridges (bodyweight, single-leg, resistance bands) 
  • Calf Raises (bodyweight, on stairs, both legs, single-leg, weighted by adding dumbells) 
  • Deadlifts (bodyweight, both legs with kettlebell, single-leg, weighted by adding dumbells) 
  • Planks (full, elbow, side, up-downs, shoulder taps, spiderman) 
What's A Good 5k Time

These are just a few exercises to get you going.

You can check out our complete runner’s guide to weightlifting for more ideas and workouts!

The most important thing is that you add it to your routine and that you focus on compound, functional exercises that will specifically help you run. Strength training will make you a better all-around athlete and help shave down your 5k time. 

#6 Add Plyometrics To Your Strength Training

In addition to adding strength training exercises to your training plan, plyometric exercises are also an excellent addition to improving your power.

The benefits of plyometric exercises include improving your stability, coordination, muscle and joint strength, cardiovascular conditioning, Vo2 max, speed, endurance at faster paces, and of course, power!

It can also help improve your running economy in general.

Plyometrics are exercises that involve fast, explosive movements, usually involving some sort of jumping. You can add a short circuit of these exercises at the end of your strength training sessions every so often, which will also give you a metabolic finish to your workout.

runner on the track

Some plyometric exercise examples include:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Scissor jumps
  • Skaters
  • Box Jumps (single-leg, double leg)
  • Lateral jumps
  • Long jumps
  • Frog jumps
  • Jump rope
  • Jump squats
  • Jump lunges
  • Lateral lunges with runner’s jump
  • Star jumps
  • Tuck jumps
  • Squat jacks
  • Plank jacks
  • Burpees
  • Bounding

After adding these to your workout, you’ll feel yourself getting more and more powerful, which will translate to improvements in your fast running.

two runners running on the side of the road

#7 Improve Running Form

If you have good running form, you will, in turn, have better running economy, which will help you run faster with less effort expended.

There is a long list of things to think about when it comes to proper running form, making it a bit overwhelming if you have already created some poor habits.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to try and work on one facet of running form at a time to not get overwhelmed and see improvement.

Let’s take a look at some of the important details to pay attention to when you are running:

  • Keep your body stacked in a straight line from head to toe.
  • Lean slightly forward, but do not bend at the hips. Your body should be as straight as a board, simply leaning slightly forward.
  • Keep your shoulders back and relaxed at all times, trying to avoid tension and ultimately shrugging them up toward your ears.
  • Keep your gaze forward, always looking 3-6 meters ahead.
  • Keep your arms at 90 degrees and swing them back and forth. Do not let them swing across the front of your body.
  • Hold your hands in a very light fist, relaxed. I try to think I am holding a baby chick in each one, so I don’t want to hold them so loose that I may drop them, but I don’t want to squish them either!
  • Keep your legs underneath you. You want the weight of your body falling directly underneath you. Try to either fall on your mid-foot or forefoot as your footstrike to avoid injury.
What's A Good 5k Time

Practice your running form during your easy runs, so you don’t need to focus on other details such as pace or effort level.

For a complete rundown and more detail on proper running form, you can check out our full article focused specifically on that.

Now that you’ve got all the tips and tricks and know the answer to what’s a good 5k time, let’s get training and achieve your next 5k personal record! 

Check out our 5k training guides to start out or shave down your current time:

Couch to 5k: Complete Training Plan and Running Guide

5k Training Plan

How To Run a 25-Minute 5k

How To Run 5k In 20 Minutes

How to Run 5k In 18 Minutes

Photo of author
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!

5 thoughts on “What’s A Good 5k Time? Average Times To Run A 5k By Age + Sex”

  1. I don’t know where you get 7.186 laps on an Olympic track is 5000m. It is 12.5 laps. I don’t agree with you on cadence…everyone has their on unique stride and every athlete whether they are an elite athlete or a recreational run should run at a cadence that is natural and comfortable for them. There is too much emphasis on reps at race pace and not enough emphasis on easy strength building runs…as my coach Nd the great Arthur Lydiard would say…money in the bank. There is no better way to get your 5km time down than good old fashion races or time trials and some at shorter distances like 1500 and 3k first to improve your 5k time

  2. Ivan,
    I agree with you about everyone having their own unique running stride, but I completely disagree about “running at a cadence that is natural or comfortable for them”, unless that cadence is close to/ at or even above 180 steps per minute. Both anecdotally as a runner and former coach, I can tell you absolutely running close to or at 180 steps per minute addresses many issues for runners in reducing injuries and improving performance.

    The PROS to increasing cadence to 180 steps (if one isn’t naturally there):
    — Decreases vertical bounce (ie. you want to decrease wasted vertical bounce, which will decrease weight bearing force coming down on each foot strike);
    — Foot turnover speed at 180 steps forces your foot to land basically under your body, landing with a mid-foot strike, thereby displacing the weight bearing landing forces across the whole foot versus (generally) on the heel (ie. watch ((generally)) inexperienced runners, as they tend to have a slow cadence, observe from the side, most often you’ll see their foot strike the ground on the heel and slightly in front of their body, which essentially is “braking” their “wanted” forward momentum. Constant heel landing, can potentially create heel spurs by the constant displacement of landing forces on just the heel. Landing on the heel also creates more dorsiflexion of the foot (toes up), than would mid-foot landing, causing unneeded and unwanted front shin muscular strain due to those muscles pulling the foot up, which in turn can potentially lead to shin splints;
    — By increasing cadence, you clear building lactic acid in the legs sooner, quicker and for longer (that’s anecdotal) as more oxygen is flowing to the legs with the higher cadence;
    — Physiologically and neurologically it’s much easier to train for a race and to race, when all training is done roughly at the same cadence (ie. 180 steps per minute), whether during longer slower runs up to track/ speed work, as the body has adapted to keep up the higher cadence, when it’s always used to training at that cadence. Therefore when racing, especially as the race progresses, and cadence possibly (from how much/ little training has been done) starts to slow (depending on the distance) due to tiredness/ electrolyte loss/ etc, it will be higher than if not focusing on in in training. And recreational runners tend to go to fast at the beginning of races, unknowingly with a higher cadence anyway, but at some point their cadence slows way down, even lower than their slower baseline cadence is anyway, looking like a hot mess coming across the finish line.
    — Training will always be consistent whether during long slow runs or up to track/ speed work. The only thing that changes is the distance between each stride.
    — Less ground contact time will be experienced with a higher cadence, which essentially is the battle over running faster or slower.
    — The endorphin “rush” of not only finishing and improving training with less injuries and reduced recovery (most likely, but there is always the anomaly), but transferring that to a race with (more than likely) improved times, better feeling, less recovery time, and looking more like a champ than feeling like in a “death march”, (not to worry, you’ll still have those death march races/ training days, even when doing the right stuff) gives that “high” of wanting to keep training and racing. Which I think in the end is what everyone wants rather than to hang up the shoes and say “I can’t stand running, I’m no good at it”!!!

    There definitely CONS to increasing running cadence to 180 (initially):
    — It takes A LOT of mental focus to count if you’re natural cadence is low. Depending on one’s goals, this may or may not be desirable. Also, DO NOT count both feet, it’ll drive you batty!!! Just the left or right… the other foot always (tends to) follows (though, no doubt there is the anomaly). As you do it more, you’ll start to learn and feel when the cadence is low or on point, probably checking in here or there as you adapt more and more.
    — You have to build up slowly and methodically (as you would in any run training program anyway). It takes time for the body (primarily the hip flexors) to neurologically and physiologically adapt to the increase in cadence. A couple minutes here and there your probably not going to notice, but imagine for example if your natural cadence is 170 and you try to bring that up to 180 over an hour run, you definitely are testing your hip flexors to an injury. Only start in slow runs, trying a minute on (at or close to 180) and a minute at your usual cadence. Doing this a few times then, increasing on future slow runs. AND IT WILL FEEL WEIRD.
    — Be prepared, it will feel like taking baby steps, even a small increase in cadence, will feel like this.
    — Expect your running times/ pace to be slower than normal as you adjust your cadence higher… Initially. Be patient. It will come back down as the cadence becomes you norm.
    — Your heart rate will be higher, for example: it’s easy to see that if you run 1 km in 6 minutes with a cadence of 170, then run the same time at 180 steps per minute, means your working harder and will reflect with an increase in a higher heart rate…. Initially. Be patient, again it will come back down as the changes become your norm.
    — You’ll be feeling it in your hip flexors the next day, as you start working on this, but be consistent and stretch deeply:
    The best advice I received was from an Olympic weightlifting coach (lifters are extremely flexible in the hip region for them to be able to squat ass to grass with their body fully upright, whereas runners hip flexors…. well if you’re a runner you will know what I’m talking about!!) to place one foot about 6 inches higher than the ground in the lunge stretch, keeping body up straight, and rear leg WAY BACK straight) then to stretch DOWN not forward, really deeply for about 8 seconds, bring your hips up out of the stretch for a few seconds and then back into the stretch trying to get the rear foot further back. The key is to keep the rear leg as straight as possible and to go into the stretch DOWN, not forward. Repeat 8 times each leg. Your hip flexors and lower back will thank you.

    In my opinion if you want to be better/ more efficient runner in general and in performance, while being more fluid, less likely to succumb to lower limb injuries I feel (and know for me) the PROS definitely outweigh the CONS.

    If you need more evidence just YouTube elite runners near the end of a marathon race… I’ve counted some of them as high as 190 or more steps per minute…. nearing the end of the marathon!!!

  3. This is great running tips.. Thank you … I am 55 and training at 6- 6:30 pace and looking the break 15 minutes in October. I have not been running for many many years but it still feels good… I am about 15 lbs over ideal weight but I’ll get there in the future…


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