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? What's a sensible goal for running miles, 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 a good mile time for beginners, you can work towards it instead of blindly and aimlessly running every day.

In this article, we will take a look at the most common mile times for men and women. These are good mile times for both who are just getting into running and who have experience running on trails.

A noncompetitive, relatively in-shape runner usually completes one mile in about 9 to 10 minutes. If you're new to running, you might run one mile in closer to 12 to 15 minutes as you build up endurance. Elite marathon runners average a mile in around 4 to 5 minutes.

Average Mile Time

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

The average time for all runners for a single mile is between 9 and 10 minutes. It also depends on the total distance you plan to run because as the distance increases, the pace slows down. If you’re running 10 miles, the numbers will be different from running 5 miles. Men, in general, average a little bit faster than women.

Men have an average mile time of around 9:00 while women have an average of somewhere in the 10:00 range.

The average mile time varies widely depending on a variety of factors. Younger athletes tend to have a more common average mile time than older fellows. Because as you age, you might run a little bit slower.

Elite Runners

Mile times help compare running performance. The general rule is that elite runners have the best times and irregular and immature 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. Currently, the world record for men is 3:43.13 for one mile. The world record for women is 4:12.56.

A good rule of thumb is under 4 minutes a mile for men, and under 5 minutes a mile for women is fast! But remember that comparisons aren’t always fair. Suppose you’ve seen elite runners make it over the last hurdle to win an event. In that case, 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.

While everyone loves to say that they can run a mile in under 5 minutes or even 10 minutes, they might be slower when they first start. Their average mile time might be closer to 12-15 minutes depending on their age and overall physical fitness.

As you run more, and you’ll shave time off that mile time. Don’t be discouraged if your current pace isn’t what you hope it would be!

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.

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.

Remember 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. If you are slowing down considerably, it’s not a good mile time for you.

Your Mile Time

Now that you have a good idea of various average mile times, you might be starting to think about your time. Your 3 miles in 20 minutes is likely faster than many competitive runners out there. Still, you also have to factor in variables that impact your time and the mile time of the competitive runner you are comparing with.

Instead of being overwhelmed by your newbie status, set some concrete goals based on your current fitness level and all the factors discussed below.

Weather and Temperature

Your pace does depend partly on the temperature and weather.

Heating can be a problem during the summer, so you might need to slow down a bit. On the other hand, you can slip in the long run in the winter when the ground isn’t covered with snow. But too much lower temperature will also show you down.

The ideal temperature for running is between 50 and 55 degrees, with no wind and no rain. Your body heats up to about 15-20 degrees hotter than the weather outside. It puts you at a comfortable 65 to 75 degrees after you get going.

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

Turns and Hills

Turns and hills can also impact your mile time. It’s faster and easier to run straight. Running a mile with numerous turns will slow you down because you have to take turns slower.

Running up or down hills will also impact your time because it’s harder to push up a hill. Your mile time could slow down pretty substantially if you are running up the hill during your distance.

On the other hand, running straight or downhill will lead you to your fastest possible mile.

Overall Fitness

Overall fitness is the key to faster mile time. 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 training.

The track and cross-country runners look lean for a reason. This is not to say that you cannot be a successful runner as a heavy person, but you need to set realistic expectations. By taking the weight off during the season, you will have less weight to carry, translating into faster times.

You can do so by following a healthy nutritional plan and exercising regularly. If you are within the normal healthy range but just simply out of shape, then you can tone your body at a faster rate. You need to breathe correctly and have the strength and endurance to maintain a specific running pace.

Injuries

Injuries can, unfortunately, impact your mile time. If you are recovering from an injury, you won’t be able to go as fast as you used to or wish to.
It might take you some time to build back up to the mile time you had before if you take some time off due to an injury.

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. To improve your mile 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 afterward.

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.

Also, start running more frequently. Start small, to run 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 make it easier to maintain your mile pace for longer than before.

For New Runners

When first starting a running program, many runners make the mistake of starting with 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.

New runners have the most potential to make considerable improvements in mile time. They need to focus on building up their fitness. The best thing they can do is run regularly. This will help their body get used to running. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but many miles of long slow distance can substantially improve how fast you can run a short distance.

For Experienced Runners

Experienced runners already have a certain fitness level, and gains in mile time are harder to come by. But there is hope! Adding new facets to your training can make you stronger and fitter. Thanks to increased athleticism, training, and better nutrition, experienced runners can 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.

Strength work is also critical. Squats, lunges, and core are all areas to work on if the pace is your primary goal. And don’t forget form drills. Strides, skipping, carioca, butt-kicks, high-knees, and more, all help develop explosive power and foot speed needed for a speedy mile.

Final Thoughts

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

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 for a faster mile time.

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.