Average 5K Time by Age and Ability For Adults and Kids

Written by Noleen Arendse

A good average 5K time by age is about 24 minutes. However, this can vary depending on your level of experience and other factors.

Running a 5K can be a great way to challenge yourself and measure your progress over time. But how does your average 5K time by age compare? 

We compiled 4 easy tables on the average 5K time by age and ability for women, men, and kids. Use them as a benchmark for comparison so that you can measure your progress.

Average 5K time by age

Contents

Average 5K time by age and ability for women

The average 5K time by age and ability for women can vary tremendously depending on ability and fitness levels. For example, a woman in her 20s who runs regularly may have an average time of around 25-30 minutes. While someone in her 50s who has just started running might average around 45-50 minutes.

The average times in our tables are approximations and may vary between individuals. Use them to see where you’re at so that you can track your progress.

What defines running ability?

The description of each running ability can vary depending on who’s defining it. For our article, we’ve defined the running abilities of our tables as follows:

Beginner – Has just started running and has been doing so for about a month.

Novice – Runs regularly and has been doing so for about 6 months. 

Intermediate – Has been running consistently for about 2 years.

Advanced – Has run consistently for at least 5 years.

Elite – Has trained as a competitive athlete for more than 5 years. Elite athletes also have very fast average sprinting speeds.

Age

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

20-24

34:00

29:30

26:30

23:30

20:30

25-29

34:30

30:00

27:00

24:00

21:00

30-34

35:00

30:30

27:30

24:30

21:30

35-39

35:30

31:00

28:00

25:00

22:00

40-44

36:30

32:00

29:00

26:00

23:00

45-49

37:30

33:00

30:00

27:00

24:00

50-54

39:00

34:30

31:30

28:30

25:30

55-59

41:00

36:00

33:00

30:00

27:00

60-64

43:00

38:00

35:00

32:00

29:00

65-69

45:00

40:00

37:00

34:00

31:00

70-74

48:00

42:00

39:00

36:00

33:00

75-79

52:00

45:30

42:00

39:00

36:00

80-84

57:00

49:30

45:00

42:00

39:00

85-90

63:00

54:30

50:00

46:00

43:00

Fastest 5K time - women

The world record for the fastest 5K road race for women is held by Senbere Teferi from Ethiopia. She ran the distance in a total time of 14:29 on the 12th of September 2021 in Germany. 

Average 5K time by age and ability for men

The average 5K time for men will also vary greatly depending on the runner’s age, ability, and fitness levels. For example, a beginner runner in his mid-thirties might take 30 minutes whereas an advanced runner of the same age might take 20 minutes. 

As with all things, the time to beat is your own, and use our table below to see how you are progressing.

Age

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

20-24

28:30

24:30

21:30

18:30

15:30

25-29

29:00

25:00

22:00

19:00

16:00

30-34

30:00

25:30

22:30

19:30

16:30

35-39

30:30

26:00

23:00

20:00

17:00

40-44

31:30

27:30

24:30

21:30

18:30

45-49

33:00

29:00

26:00

23:00

20:00

50-54

34:30

30:30

27:30

24:30

21:30

55-59

36:00

32:00

29:00

26:00

23:00

60-64

38:00

34:00

31:00

28:00

25:00

65-69

40:00

36:00

33:00

30:00

27:00

70-74

43:00

38:30

35:30

32:30

29:30

75-79

47:00

42:00

38:30

35:30

32:30

80-84

52:00

46:00

42:00

39:00

36:00

Fastest 5K time for men

The current world record for the fastest 5K road race is held by Berihu Aregawi from Ethiopia. His time is 12:49 and he set the record on the 31 December 2001 in Spain.

Average 5K time by age and ability for kids

The difference in average 5K times for kids is even greater than in adults. Not only do fitness levels influence their running times but also their overall development and whether or not they’ve hit puberty. As such, the tables below are an approximation on how long it will take a kid to run 5Ks.

We’ve defined our running ability for kids as follows:

Beginner – A kid or teen who is new to running or has very limited running experience. They may be able to run/walk a 5K distance but at a slower pace and with some difficulty.

Intermediate – A kid or teen who has a moderate level of cardiovascular fitness and will have been running consistently for a while. They can run a 5K at a steady pace without having to take frequent walk breaks.

Advanced – Advanced runners can run a 5K at a faster pace without needing to stop. They have been running for a while – for example, they might be part of their school’s athletic team.

Approximate average 5K time by age and ability for girls ages 10 - 18 yrs

Age Group

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

10-12

35-50 minutes

25-35 minutes

20-25 minutes

13-15

30-45 minutes

22-32 minutes

18-23 minutes

16-18

28-42 minutes

20-30 minutes

17-22 minutes

Fastest 5K time for girls under 18

The current world record is 14:45.71 and is held by Liqing Song from China. She set this record on the 21st of October 1997 in Shanghai. 

Approximate average 5K time by age and ability for boys ages 10 - 18 yrs

Age RangeBeginnerIntermediateAdvanced
10-1230:0025:0020:00
13-1525:0022:0018:00
16-1822:0020:0016:00

Fastest 5K time for boys under 18

The fastest 5K time for boys under 18 is 12:54.19 and is held by Abraham Cherkos from Ethiopia. He set this record on the 14th of July 2006 in Rome. 

What age is it OK for a child to run a 5K?

Physical exercise is essential for kids and some kids may well catch the running bug early on in life. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not only are their bodies growing but they are also still developing movement, coordination, and balance. So when is it OK for a kid to run a 5K?

Generally, the ages 8 to 12 years old is a good starting point for a 5K. By this stage in their development, most kids will be able to adapt to training for longer periods. 

If you’re uncertain if it’s safe for your kid to run a 5K, we suggest checking in with your health practitioner to get the go-ahead.

Follow these guidelines from the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Keep it fun – Don’t force a kid to run a race if they don’t want to. If they are motivated and enthusiastic about the run, it will be a positive experience for them which can only help it to become a lifelong habit. 
  • Watch technique and form – Some kids might be gifted with a natural running style and others might need a bit more help to make sure their form is correct. If your kid just wants to run races, we recommend getting some help on the correct technique and form to prevent injuries. Remember, they are still growing. This includes tendons and ligaments so there is a chance of injury if their form is not correct. 
  • Young kids = shorter distances – The younger the kid, the shorter the distance. Young kids will be growing very fast and will need more time to recover. Make sure you keep the distances short for very young kids. This could be fun runs that are 1 – 2 miles or 100-yard dashes.
  • Adult 5K running programs might not be suitable for kids – While it might be tempting to get your kids to do the Couch to 5K with you, remember that adult programs are not necessarily appropriate for kids. Make sure they get in a combination of running and other sports or exercise as well. 

How long is 5K?

Running a 5K is one of the most popular distances for runners of all levels. For beginners, it’s a milestone to achieve in their running journey, and for most other levels, it’s a decent distance to run for exercise especially when you’re short on time. It’s also a popular distance for fun runs.

Five kilometers is 3.1 miles or about 12 – 13 city blocks depending on the size of the blocks. On a race track, it’s 12.5 laps around a 400-meter track or 25 laps for a 200-meter track. 

What’s a good 5K time?

As with the average 1 mile run time by age, a good time to run a 5K depends on the person’s age, experience, and fitness level. It’s also relative to the individual. For example, someone who has just started running and usually takes about 40 minutes might consider 34 minutes to be a good time for them. 

However, generally, a good 5K time is considered to be approximately 24 minutes for a reasonably fit adult. 

Why are 5Ks so popular?

In recent years, running 5Ks has become quite popular thanks to programs like Couch to 5K or apps such as Joggo. Here are a few reasons why this particular distance is so common:

It’s an achievable distance for most people: Regardless of your level of fitness, the distance of 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles, is an achievable distance to cover even if you’re just walking.

You can cover a few rounds in your neighborhood or even go on a specific running trail. Most beginner park runs are about 5Ks. 

It builds a sense of accomplishment: Achieving 5Ks builds a sense of accomplishment, especially for beginners. 

It’s a common distance for running events and fun runs: Community and fundraising running events usually include a 5K. Participants will get a T-shirt or medal and most events have other activities such as music and food stalls to make the event more memorable. 

How to improve your average 5K time

With consistent training, diet, and focusing on your technique, it’s entirely possible to improve your average 5K time. Follow these 8 easy tips.

 

Establish a baseline for your 5K time

Before you start working on improving your 5K time, establish a baseline so that you know your current average 5K time. From there, you’ll be able to track your progress. 

You can easily establish a base time by running a 5K at your current pace and timing yourself. Once you have your average time, you can set a goal and work towards it. Make sure that your goal is easy and achievable.

Warm up properly for at least 5 - 10 minutes

It might be tempting just to hit the road but warming up properly will not only prevent injury but can also improve your average 5K running speed. Take at least 15 -15 minutes to ensure that you are warm and your muscles are ready to go. 

A warm-up can include light jogging, stretching, and some dynamic exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, and leg swings. 

Know your estimated race pace

Race pace is the pace you need to maintain for the entire 5K run. To calculate your race pace, you can use a pace chart such as this one from the University of North Colorado.

Once you know your estimated race pace, you can structure your training to improve your speed and endurance.

Do interval training to improve speed and endurance

One of the most effective ways to improve both speed and endurance is to do interval training. It involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise.

Run at a faster pace than your estimated race pace for a set amount of time, then slow down to recover for a set amount of time. Repeat this for several sets.

Interval training will improve your cardiovascular fitness and your lactate threshold –  the point at which your muscles start to fatigue.

Work on your cadence

Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute while running. The higher your cadence, the faster you’ll run. Aim for a cadence of around 180 steps per minute.

You can use an app on your phone or find a running mix that has 180 beats per minute which will motivate you to keep your cadence.

Build muscle and work on your explosive power

Strength training will build muscle which can help improve your 5K time. Focus on muscle-building exercises as well as those that work on explosive power. Squats, lunges, and plyometrics such as jump squats will help improve the power in your legs. 

Improve your running form

Proper technique and form will go a long way in improving your average 5K time. Run with a slight forward lean, and keep your shoulders relaxed and your arms at your sides. Aim for a midfoot strike and avoid overstriding. This will reduce the risk of injury and help you run more efficiently.

The best way to improve your form is to get an external perspective and this is where a coach or personal trainer can be very helpful. If you’re serious about improving your 5K time or you’re looking to compete, we suggest consulting a running coach. 

Improve your 5K race pace with tempo runs

Incorporate tempo runs into your training to improve your 5K pace. A tempo run is running at a pace that’s slightly quicker than your estimated race pace for a longer period. This will help build endurance plus your body will learn to sustain a faster pace for a longer period. 

You can also try running shorter distances at a faster pace than your estimated race pace to improve your speed.

FAQs

Running a 5K without being too tired or needing a break, is a good indication of fitness especially compared to the average person. Completing 5Ks regularly can help improve cardiovascular health, overall fitness, and endurance. For optimal health and fitness, it’s important to also incorporate other forms of exercise and maintain a balanced diet.

Generally, a time of 30 – 40 minutes is a good 5K time for a beginner of all ages. However, this will vary between people due to factors such as age, fitness, and overall health.

An average 5K running time of 20 minutes is considered a very good time for most runners and requires a high level of fitness, endurance, and speed. 

While it’s better for younger kids to run shorter distances if the 7-year-old has undergone proper training and has been cleared by his or her doctor, then, generally it should be OK for them to run 5Ks. Remember to keep it fun and not force them to run. Always check with your healthcare practitioner first.

With proper training and preparation, a 9-year-old can safely participate in a 5K as by then their bodies can adapt to longer distances. However, it’s important to keep in mind individual physical capabilities and fitness levels before entering a race.

The current fastest time for a 5K for a 12-year-old is 16 minutes and 23 seconds and is held by Emer McKee in Belfast. 

The average 5K time by age will vary between individuals. The average time for a male runner in the USA to complete a 5K is about 28 minutes and 45 seconds. The average 5K time for females is about 34 minutes and 53 seconds. However, this depends on your age, fitness levels, and overall running ability. 

Summary

  • A good average 5K time by age is about 23:58 minutes. 
  • Your age, gender, running ability, and overall fitness will affect your 5K time.
  • With proper training, good nutrition, and hydration, you can improve your average 5K running time.

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