What Is A Good 5k Time For Beginners?

Natalie Cecconi
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How Long Is A 5k?

A 5k, or a 5-kilometer race, is a popular distance among runners. If you’re training to run your first 5k, you may be wondering what is a good 5k time for a beginner.

If you’re a beginner, you’re typically building up to running a full 5k before you start worrying about what your actual time will be. But whether you’re a beginner just getting into running, or you’ve been running for a couple of years and are looking for a new goal, you probably want to know how long it will take you to finish a 5k.

As you progress and get better at running, you may want to consider a 5k race. Since this distance is so common, it is also a great way to measure your improvement and see how far you have come.

If your goal is to set a new PR, it can be helpful to know what a good 5k time for a beginner is to have something to shoot for. Of course, this varies from runner to runner. But here are some of the top averages across all categories for male and female runners.


16:36 for 25-29 year-olds

15:38 for 20-24 year-olds

15:41 for 30-34 year-olds

Focusing on Others—5k Times and Paces

Many runners set goals for themselves, most often a 5k race. However, if you are just starting to run, then this may be a goal that is a bit too fast for you.

You should be pleased with any race time over 20 minutes. If you can do this consistently, then build on this.

Set small goals for yourself. For example, if you can successfully run a 5k at 20 minutes, then try to shave off a minute off your time.

You will find that you can run faster if you start to focus on a good place to finish.

Focusing on others can be the best way to keep your own nose in front. If you are running a 5k, then you can be sure that there will be a lot of people there who are better runners than you are.

These are the people who can push you to your limits.

So, you need to make sure that if you do set yourself a goal for the 5k, then you need to always bear this in mind. By focusing on others, you will always find that your own performance improves since you are spurred on and challenged.

Focusing on Yourself—PRs

I have had many runners over the years ask me what I think their personal record (PR) or predicted finish time will be in their upcoming races.

I have also had many runners over the years ask me if they are truly doing the right training in their training program to reach their goals or if they are doing too much or not enough.

The latter question can’t really be answered by one person. You have to find out the answers yourself by listening to and feeling your body and making changes as needed. The most important thing we should be asking ourselves when we train is “how do I feel?” That is what is important.

Just as you have to develop the habit of listening to your body and thinking about your training in the right frame of mind, you also have to develop the habit of creating your own PRs that are personal to you.

Too many runners get caught up in comparing themselves to others, another runner’s PR, or a previous race they ran.

All of those comparisons can lead to poor training or, even worse, injury.

If you want to have good runs, you have to focus on yourself and your PRs inside the race. Your goal is to cross the finish line, not beat another runner across the finish line.

Focusing on the Race—Basic Tips

On Preparing For Your First 5k.

Whenever individuals begin training for a 5k road race, they tend to ask others what a good 5k time is for beginners. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer as there are several variables that can determine how quickly you will finish the 5k course.

There are many courses that are well known to be very difficult with the most notable course being the Boston Marathon course. It has around 150 twists and turns making up those 26.2 miles.

If you are trying to run a 5k time that will beat a Boston Marathoner, you will need to consider training in a way that will help you improve your finish time.

Those that intend to participate in this type of event should be extra cautious as to not injure themselves by getting overzealous before each training session or race. An extremely slow 5k time may be considered a great accomplishment by some individuals.

To better assist individuals to complete this particular race, here is a workout program that you can follow.

Workout Plan

Below is a good 5k plan that you can adhere to if you want to complete this marathon in less than 60 minutes.

Workout Goals:

For the first 3 weeks, the focus is on increasing the distance you are running daily to improve endurance, strength and speed.

Rest between runs is approximately equal to the time you spend running.

Before the Race

One of the most important considerations when you’re trying to figure out what is a good time for a beginning runner is how long you have to prepare for the race. The longer you have to follow a training plan, the better your race time will be.

On the other hand, if you don’t have as much time to devote to your training plan, you know that you want to be able to complete your run in the shortest time possible.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to look at a runner with more experience preparing for the same race.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to figure out what is a good 5k time for a beginning runner preparing for the 10K. Instead of trying to figure out what kind of time you’ll do as a beginner, you can look at an experienced runner’s training plan and work backward from there.

You’d still use your beginner training schedule, but you’d subtract the difference in time you expect to complete the longer workouts instead of the shorter race distance.

Warming Up and Hydration

Staying hydrated is important, but hydration can take a while. You have to be applying lubricant to get any hydration benefits.

If speed is your thing, then you want to stay away from that. What you want is something that is going to absorb instantaneously like a spray.

This hydrates, rejuvenates, and revives your skin. It does all these things quickly.

If you've ever done any leg day or training, you know that when you're finished you feel like you're about to hit a brick wall.

No matter what you do, you’re ready to call it a good day. What you want to do is get that same feeling that you feel five minutes after you're done lifting and the feeling that sticks around until it's time to go to bed.

If you're an athlete, you will want to use something that's going to enhance your performance and your recovery.

Now, I've always loved sprays and oils, I want them to be able to sink in but I want it just as quickly as I can get it. I don't want to have to wait, I don't want to have to worry about it and I don't want to have to feel it.

I want to be able to put it on and get dressed and I can feel it afterwards. I want to know that I'm in it.

Race Time

Vs. Running at Home

If you are a beginner runner, it is common for you firstly to compete with yourself and others on a treadmill at the gym. You will gradually pick up the pace and get faster.

The problem is that you may not sense the level of difficulty as your fitness level improves when it comes to running outside.

Thus, if you set a time as a goal, you can find out your level of fitness. And you can observe your improvement when you repeat this exercise again in the future.

Taking it from another angle, if you are a beginner, a good 5k time for you is related to your level of cardiovascular fitness.

Therefore, if you are just starting out or are struggling to finish the race at all, you should be running for longer distances.

As you keep running, you will improve your cardiovascular fitness and your body will better handle long-distance running distances.

This may seem boring at first, but it is a great way to improve your cardiorespiratory capacity in your base-training phase.


If you’ve read my previous article outlining the top three 5K training mistakes beginners make, then you’re ready to start training!

Once your training schedule is set, the next thing you want to do is start preparing for race day itself …..

Concluding Thoughts

When you first begin running, you probably want to run as far and as fast as you can. But as you continue to train and progress, you’ll realize that speed and distance aren’t really the most important things.

Agonizing over your 5k time is not going to get you very far. After all, like we said earlier, many other factors come into play so you don’t want to be hung up on the finish time.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t care about your 5k times.

Just know that there are other ways to measure your progress. Did you set your best time for the same distance this week compared to last week? Did you shave a few minutes off your personal record? If so, you are making progress! So pat yourself on the back and keep working hard.