How to Run Your Fastest Mile

Records, Averages, and Tips for Improvement

Man running outside

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Many runners want to know what is considered a good time for running a mile (or kilometer) or what is the fastest mile time. But this is a tricky question to answer because it’s highly subjective. Depending on the runner’s age, sex, and fitness level, a “fast” time can vary greatly.

Another consideration is the runner's goals. Some runners consider a sub-6:00 mile a significant achievement, while others might be thrilled to run a mile under 10:00. No matter what your situation and goal, understanding some mile time averages can help you determine what your fastest mile time may be.

The World's Fastest Mile Time

The current world records for the outdoor mile are 3:43.13 for men (recorded July 1999) and 4:12.33 for women (recorded July 2019). Of course, most runners will never come anywhere close to these times, but you can still work on improving your own personal record for the mile distance.

Mile Times

  • Male world record: 3:43.13 (Hichem El Guerrouj, 1999)
  • Female world record: 4:12.33 (Sifan Hassan, 2019)
  • Competitive high school male: 3:53.43 (Alan Webb, 2001)
  • Competitive high school female: 4:33.87 (Katelyn Tuohy, 2018)

Average Mile Times by Age Group

Age can influence how fast you run, and understanding averages allows you to compare your race times to others in your age group. One review of over 10,000 5K runners found that the average person ran a mile in 11:47. This was further broken down by age group.

Average Pace Per Mile During a 5K, by Age and Sex
 Age Group Men Women
19 and under 9:34.42 - 11:12.20 12:09.50 - 12:14.57
20-29 09:30.36 - 10:03.22 11:42.37 - 11:44.47
30-39 10:09.33 - 10:53.45 12:03.33 - 12:29.29
40-49 10:28.26 - 10:43.19 12:24.47 - 12:41.48
50-59 11:08.16 - 12:07.58 13:20.52 - 14:37.34
60-99 13:05.47 - 13:52.03 14:47.48 - 16:12.01

Keep in mind that everyone's abilities vary, so don't get too caught up in comparing your mile time to other runners'. 

Reasons to Know Your Mile Time

While understanding the fastest and average race times is helpful, understanding your own pace and runtime can be more informative. Benefits of knowing your mile time include:

  • You can compete against yourself instead of others.
  • You can challenge yourself to beat your fastest mile time.
  • You can use your fastest mile time to track your improvement.
  • You can keep track of your pace during longer runs.
  • When running on a treadmill, using a GPS device, or running app, you can measure your pace per mile and see your average pace.

As your fitness and endurance improve, you'll be able to shave time off your pace. The faster your mile time is, the faster your 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon will be.

Mile Time Standards

There are additional ways to gauge and compare your mile run times beyond age and sex. This involves knowing mile time standards for a few different groups.

Mile Times for Teens

High school track and cross country runners are also often curious about how their mile time compares to their fellow athletes.

In most parts of the U.S., high school boys who can run a sub-4:00 mile can be very competitive on the high school track and cross country teams (the most elite can run an under-3:60 mile). The same is true for high school girls who can run a sub-5:00 mile (the fastest times are below 4:40).

Army Standards

In 2020, the Army's Basic Training Physical Fitness Test (PFT) was replaced by the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The two-mile run requirement is used as part of an overall fitness score that is used to calculate recruits' eligibility to graduate from basic training.

To earn a top score on the two-mile run, it must be completed in 12:45. However, a two-mile time of 18 minutes still qualifies soldiers for a heavy physical demand unit. The minimum score for a soldier in a moderate physical demand unit is 21:07.

Popular Marathon Qualifying Times

If you plan to run a popular marathon, the qualifying times may differ based on the event. They also often take into consideration age and sex.

For example, the Boston Marathon qualification time for a 25-year-old male is 3 hours, and the qualification time for a female of the same age is 3 hours 30 minutes.

The qualification times for the New York City Marathon are a bit more stringent. Using the same age example, men must run 2:53 to qualify, and women must be at 3:13 or faster.

Be sure to check with your specific race to determine what pace is required to enter.

How to Run Your Fastest Mile Time

If you're hoping to improve your mile time, there are plenty of ways to get faster. These include:

Your approach may also differ if you're a beginner or an experienced runner. Once you can run a mile without stopping, you can work on improving your time. With the proper training, you will.

A Word From Verywell

While it can be interesting to know the fastest mile times, most runners should not compare themselves to these numbers. Instead, try an online age-grading calculator to help determine a reasonable running time for your age group.

It's also helpful to keep track of your running speeds. As long as you continue to improve your time, you are making progress, no matter how this time compares to others in your age or similar group.

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Guinness World Records. Fastest run one mile (male).

  2. Guinness World Records. Fastest run one mile (female).

  3. Track & Field News. High school all-time top 10s - boys.

  4. Rockland/Westchester Journal News. Track: Katelyn Tuohy breaks girls U.S. high school record in mile; Ursuline DMR champs.

  5. 5k Pace Comparison. How does my 5K pace compare to others?.

  6. Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) score chart.

  7. Boston Athletic Association. Qualify for the Boston Marathon.

  8. New York Road Runners. Marathon time qualifiers.

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