What's a Good Finishing Time for a 5K?

Plus Training Schedules That Match Your Experience Level

Group at the starting line of a 5k race

FatCamera / Vetta / Getty Images

A good 5K race time for you is your time. What's a great time for one person may be a disappointment for another. If you're interested in running a 5K (3.1 miles), check out the previous results for a particular race on the website for the event. It will show the times of the age group winners, those who finished in the middle of the pack, and those who finished at the bottom.

Notice that these finishing times span a very wide range because in most races there's usually a mix of advanced runners, conservative runners, and walkers. In 2018, 5K races logged almost 9 million registrants, according to Running USA. The winner may finish a 5K course in anywhere from 13 to 20 minutes or even longer. If you know your pace, you can use a calculator to help estimate your 5K time.

How Your 5K Time Compares to Others' Averages

It's important to consider factors such as gender and age when comparing 5K race results. Generally speaking, men will finish more quickly than women, and younger people tend to run faster than older ones. Level of experience can make a big difference too. An older runner who's trained a lot may outpace a younger beginner, for example.

One way to put all 5K participants on a level playing field, regardless of age and gender, is by using a system called age-grading.

Age-graded results allow you to compare your race times to those of other runners in the race, as well as to the standard for your age and gender. You can use an age-graded calculator, endorsed by USA Track and Field (USATF), to figure out your age-graded race time to get a comparison of how your finishing time compares with others.

Compete Against Yourself

If you're a novice runner, try not to get hung up on your finishing time when you run your first 5K. Focus instead on how you feel during the race and especially on the incredible excitement and sense of accomplishment you're bound to experience when you cross the finish line.

Once you gain more racing experience, absolutely focus on your performance, but try not to compare yourself to others. A great thing about running races is that you can compete against yourself.

Many people like to run the same distance every year or every few months so they can try to beat their personal record (PR).

It's a helpful way to compete against themselves and measure their own progress rather than worry about what other race participants are doing. If you're really curious about what time you might be able to run in your 5K, here's how you can estimate your 5K race time.

5K Training Schedules

Making an effort to train for a 5K you're planning to run certainly can help you finish at your best possible time. If you're planning to run a 5K, here are some training schedules to choose from:

  • 5K Training Schedule for New Runners: This eight-week training schedule is designed for runners who can run at least one mile and want to run continuously to the finish line of a 5K race.​
  • 5K Run/Walk Training Schedule: This eight-week training schedule is designed for those who can run for five minutes at a time and want to build up to finishing the entire 5K race.
  • Train for a 5K in a Month: This four-week training program is geared toward run/walkers who want to build up to running a 5K in a month.
  • Moderate 5K Training ScheduleThis eight-week schedule is geared toward runners who are a little beyond the most conservative training schedules, who can run two miles comfortably, and can run four to five days per week.
  • 5K Training Schedule for a PR: This eight-week schedule is good for runners who've already run some 5K races and are looking to achieve a personal record in the 5K.​
  • 5K Training Schedule for Advanced Runners: This eight-week 5K training program is for runners who train at least four to five days a week and are able to run at least five miles.
  • 4-Week Advanced 5K Training Schedule: This four-week schedule is for runners who train at least five days a week and are able to run at least six miles.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.