What Is A Good Mile Time For Beginners?

Natalie Cecconi
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Common Mile Times

Setting a target is one strategy to boost achievement. Do you have a running goal in your head but you don’t know where to start? That’s when a sensible goal is needed … especially if you are a beginner.

Setting a target is especially important for distance running. Distance running requires an adequate amount of training and build up before you can reach your goal.

If you set an unrealistic goal, you likely will give up within the first few months if you don’t achieve it.

If you know what a good mile time for beginners is, you can work towards it instead of blindly aimlessly running every day.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the most common beginner mile times for men and for women. These are good mile times for those who are just getting into running.

If you are training to go for a distance running event … say a 5k or 10k, this target can show you what you need to work towards.

Average Mile Time

The right answer would be “it depends.” It depends on the runner’s goal, the runner’s training, the runner’s motivation and, of course, the runner’s current fitness level.

If your goal is to complete a 10k run, you will need to run a lot more miles than if your goal is to improve your 5k time. And if your goal is to run a 5k time at a specific race, you will need to run more miles than the weekend runner who decided to train for a few months and race during the holidays.

If your goal is to run a marathon in 2017, you will need to train year-round and follow a plan that includes plenty of long runs and cross training. You will also need to take nutrition and injury prevention seriously.

These are just a few examples of many different types of runners and why there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best solution would be to set a goal and try to understand how many miles you will need to run to achieve that goal.

Elite Runners

Mile times are useful for comparing running performance. The general rule is that elite runners have the best times and average runners have the worst times. For instance, an elite woman can run a mile in just under five minutes and a world-class male can run the same distance in about four minutes. That is an average variation of a little less than two minutes or four percent.

But remember that comparisons aren’t always fair. If you’ve seen elite runners make it over the last hurdle to win an event, you’ll agree that these are simply extraordinary human beings who are probably much taller, heavier, have longer and stronger leg bones combined with muscle structures, and are probably more dense in terms of lean muscle than average runners.

Imagine the differences between professional basketball players and your regular petite teenager! So elite running times are not comparable to those run by average runners.

Beginner Runners

If you're new to running and want to increase your performance, it's worth measuring your 'good mile time' to track your early progress.

A good mile time is a personal best you set as a beginner. It can be your first official time recorded by a certified official, or it can be the time you got on your last run when you were at your absolute best.

You want to use your good mile time on your easy days rather than on your hard days. This way, it will be a reminder of the progress you've made. If you continue to get faster, it will also motivate you to set a new goal… which will, in turn, keep you constantly pushing yourself.

Keep in mind that a good mile time should be a steady, nearly all-out effort using a comfortable, conversational pace in the early stages. You don’t want a blazing start and a slow burn finish.

Doing a steady mile means a steady pace. You should be relatively consistent speed-wise from start to finish.

You should be able to maintain the pace for the entire distance of 3.1 miles. If you are slowing down considerably, it’s obviously not a good mile time for you.

It is more important to improve your WHOLE performance than your split times.

Your Mile Time

The most common mistake newbies make is thinking that they are a lot slower than they actually are.

That is why they don’t bother to start training, since they assume that they are not yet close enough to their goal race time.

It’s true that you can’t learn much about your running shape from a single time on the track. But you already have enough information to set some reasonable goals, which will help you stay motivated through your training.

It’s very likely that your 3 miles in 20 minutes is faster than many competitive runners out there.

Those people are the ones with years of training behind them. You have only been at it for a couple of months!

Only by setting some solid goals and working towards them, you will be able to tap into your full running potential.

So, instead of being overwhelmed by your newbie status, set some concrete goals based on your current fitness level.

Your decision not to start training until you are 20 minutes faster makes as much sense as deciding not to start dieting until you reach your ideal weight.

You should start working on your running and weight in parallel so that both of you may reach your goal.

Weather and Temperature

For runners in the USA, your pace will depend partly on the temperature and weather.

During the summer, heating can be a problem, so you might need to slow down a bit. On the other hand, you can slip in a longer run in the winter when the ground isn’t covered with snow.

In general, a good mile time for beginners ranges from 8:10 per mile to 12:00 per mile.

What is a good mile time for beginners depends on several factors:

A. Your weekly mileage

B. How long you have been running

C. Your running background

D. Your running form

E. Overall fitness

A Great Way to Start Adjusting Your Running pace Is by Using a Heart Rate Monitor

If you get a heart rate monitor, set it at around 180 beats per minute and run slower or faster accordingly.

Turns and Hills

If you run clockwise you must make sure that you account for the right turn. When you are running fast, this distance is greater than when you are running slow. The exact radius of a turn is dependent on the speed of the runner.

The faster you run, the larger the radius, and the slower you run, the smaller the radius. Given that you are running clockwise around the track, the radius of the curve will actually increase the further you run from the start. At the start the radius is the smallest and as you run the radius slowly increases to its peak, and then begins to decrease the further you run on the track.

To determine ½ of the total turn for this curve, you must first determine a common radius, typically the radius at the midpoint of the curve. Then use the formula ½ = r(x/2a) where r is the radius of the curve, x is the distance from the starting line to the midpoint of the curve and a is the length of the straight-away.

This method is not new. It was worked out by the ancient Greeks to allow chariots to race around the track safely and quickly. You should not have to make any adjustments because this is not a large curve.

Overall Fitness

First, let’s talk about overall fitness. When you start a running program, your overall health should be in pretty good shape. If you are starting the program with many pounds to lose, you should consider taking the weight off before you begin training.

This is not to say that you cannot be a successful runner as a heavy person, but you need to set realistic expectations for yourself. By taking the weight off during the off season, you will have less weight to carry and that will translate into faster times.

You can do so by following a healthy nutritional plan and exercising regularly. If you have more than 20 to 30 pounds to lose, you may want to consider the surgeon general’s suggested weight loss plan: one pound per week. If you are within the normal healthy range, but just simply out of shape, then you can lose the weight at a faster rate, but again no faster than 2 or 3 pounds a week.

Too much stress on the body can lead to injuries, and both injuries and running go hand in hand (pun intended).

When it comes to overall fitness, there are other factors that determine your success and abilities as a runner. You need to be able to breathe properly, and you need to have the strength and endurance to maintain a certain running pace. These are a couple of other benefits to regular cardiovascular exercise.


Is running bad for you?

Can running make you overweight?

When looking to lose fat, does running actually help you?

These are the types of questions that are asked by beginners more often than at any other stage in the running game.

Because beginner runners make up 90% of all runners, it seems to be a very common worry for everyone to have.

In reality, there are many reasons why running can be a great way to lose fat.

But in order to understand why running isn’t bad for you, it’s important to understand why running IS good for you.

When you run, your body goes through a series of beneficial and natural reactions that make it a fantastic way to burn fat and lose weight.

Ways to Get Faster Running a Mile

You might have heard this saying: “Hard work beats talent.”

This quote certainly applies to running a mile. In order to improve your time, you need to put in the hard work to get you to the finish line faster.

The first thing you should do is work on your warm-up. Make sure you’re always stretching and loosening your muscles before a run. You might even want to consider doing some light stretching afterwards.

Next, you need to develop good running form. Make sure you’re running in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Keep a nice steady pace, with your arms next to your side, and hips moving in time with your feet. If you’re having a hard time making your movements work together, get a coach or personal trainer to help you with it.

The last thing you can do to get a better mile time is to start running more frequently. Start small, with a goal of running three days a week. Within a few months, you should be able to get up to five or six days per week. This will help you build your endurance and stamina, and will make it easier to maintain your mile pace for longer than you used to before.

For New Runners

5K is an Excellent Milestone Goal.

When first starting a running program, many runners make the mistake of starting with a goal of running a specific distance in a certain amount of time. This is a mistake. Instead, if you are new to running, your first goal should be to run consistently.

Zack, a good friend of mine, who has run a 2:45 marathon and held a 2:20 marathon PR, made this same mistake early in his running career. Since he was a professional dancer, the running bug bit him pretty hard when he was in college.

He immediately signed up for a college road race and then signed up for another one. He quickly realized after his second race that running those distances in those times was way out of reach. But he was already a little too far down the rabbit hole with training to let it go without a real battle.

So he spent the better part of two years trying to train and race his way to those times. When he realized that it wasn’t going to happen, he accepted it and took a step back.

He saw that his body was not built for marathoning and that he was way too short to ever be a competitive long distance runner. So he decided that he would focus his running efforts on 5k to 10k races.

For Experienced Runners

How to Reduce Your Mile Time

Thanks to increased athleticism, training and better nutrition, we are able to achieve faster mile times than ever before. It is now possible for athletes as young as 18 to run times under 4 minutes in the mile. Meanwhile, running times in the 2:50s and 3:00s are common for college age runners. And high schoolers are improving by the year.

Why not shoot for one of these new pbs? But before you start training like an Olympian, you should be realistic about what is achievable for you. There is no point wasting time and effort to get your mile time below a 5:30 if you don’t normally run a 5:15.

Final Thoughts

On the Best – What is a Good Mile Time for Beginners?

The most important thing to know is that the time you can maintain a mile depends how fit you are, not how fast you are at the beginning.

Most runners have a slow start and then make up for it later on. As a beginner, you can focus on staying consistent, because you are not racing yet.

Try running at a comfortable pace and stay consistent with speed and frequency. With consistency, you will build endurance and it won’t be long before you can start running longer distances.

However, if you are out there looking to finish your first ever 5K, like most beginner runners, you’ll probably push yourself a bit more.

However, it’s important to remember that it does not matter what your speed is at the beginning. It doesn’t even matter what your pace is at the beginning.

What matters is that you are consistent so that you can build upon it.