How fast you can run one mile depends on a number of factors, including your fitness level and genetics.
Your level of fitness usually matters more than your age or sex. That’s because you need endurance to complete the run. How fast you run also depends on the pace and total distance you’re trying to complete.
A noncompetitive, relatively in-shape runner usually completes one mile in about 9 to 10 minutes, on average. 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. The current world record for one mile is 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1999.
Mile run times by age-group
Age can influence how fast you run. Most runners reach their fastest speed between the ages of 18 and 30. The average running speed per mile in a 5K (5-kilometer or 3.1-mile race) is below.
This data was collected in the United States in 2010 and is based on the run times of 10,000 runners.
Average running speed per mile in a 5K
|Age||Men (minutes per mile)||Women (minutes per mile)|
Average mile times for men vs. women
Differences between the sexes can influence running pace. One of the reasons elite male athletes often run faster times than female elite athletes has to do with muscle mass. Having more fast-twitch muscles in the legs can result in a faster speed.
But at a longer distance, women may have an advantage. One study found that, in a marathon, non-elite men are more likely than women to slow their pace throughout the race. Researchers think it may be due to physiological and/or decision-making differences between men and women.
Pacing for distance running
In a distance run, pace is important. Pace, or the number of minutes it takes to run one mile or kilometer, can influence how fast you complete the run. For example, you might want to slow your pace down at the start of the run for the first few miles.
This may help you conserve energy to run the last miles strong. Elite runners may keep a more conservative pace at the beginning of an event, picking up speed toward the end.
To figure out your average-mile pace, try out this fitness test: Map out one mile on a flat surface near your home. Or complete the run on a track in your area.
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Time yourself as you run one mile. Plan to go at a pace where you push yourself but don’t run at full speed.
You can use this mile time as a speed goal for your training. As you build up speed and endurance, return to the one-mile loop every few weeks and repeat the timed mile.
If you’re new to running, it’s important to build up mileage gradually so you can stay free of injury. Try to add only a few more miles to your weekly running schedule every two weeks as you build up speed and endurance.
Also follow these precautions to stay safe and healthy as you run:
- Don’t wear headphones when running on roads. You need to be able to hear traffic around you and remain aware of your surroundings.
- Run against traffic.
- Follow all rules of the road and look both ways before crossing a street.
- Run in well-lit, safe areas. Wear reflective gear in the early morning or evening hours.
- Bring water with you when you run, or run on a route with water available, so you can stay hydrated as you train.
- Carry identification with you when you run and tell a friend, roommate, or family member where you’re going.
- Run with a family member or dog, when possible.
- Wear sunscreen when running outdoors.
- Run in loose, comfortable clothing and appropriate running shoes.
- Switch out your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
- Warm up before running and stretch afterward.
- Cross-train once or twice per week to mix up your routine and keep your muscles challenged.
Many factors, including age and sex, can influence your running speed. But increasing your fitness level and building up endurance can help you get faster.
If you want to improve your average mile time:
- Try to do a variety of workouts each week. For example, include a long run in your workout schedule, followed by a speed or interval training session on a track or trail.
- Then add inclines (hills) to build up more strength in your legs.
- Build up speed and endurance gradually to stay free of injury.
- It’s also important to stay hydrated when you run
Before starting a new fitness routine, get approval from your doctor.