What’s A Good Marathon Time? Average Marathon Times By Age + Sex

It’s not uncommon for runners to constantly want more. A new PR, a longer distance, a more challenging route. Let’s just say we become a bit addicted or, better yet, obsessed with running. Once we’ve mastered our 5k, 10k, and half-marathon, the next natural step is, yes, you guessed it, a marathon!

Whether it’s your first and you’ve just decided to take on this monster of a feat, or you’re a seasoned marathoner, we all want to know, what’s a good marathon time?

According to a study conducted by Run Repeat, including 19,614,975 marathon results in 32,335 races worldwide, participation in marathons grew by 49.43% in the ten years from 2008 to 2018.

Based on all of that data, we can take a good crack at answering what a good marathon time is. We’ll also look at the ins and outs of a marathon, average marathon times, and how to get closer to your PR.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How Long Is A Marathon?
  • What Are The Current Marathon Records?
  • What Are The Current Average Marathon Times?
  • What’s A Good Marathon Time?
  • What Are The Recent Average Marathon Times By Age and Sex?
  • 6 Tips Tor Training For And Improving Your Current Marathon Time

Ready?

Let’s jump in!

How Long Is A Marathon?

According to the USATF, a certified marathon course is 26.21876 miles or 42.195 kilometers. It is also 46,145.0176 yards or 138,435.0528 feet. This distance was established as the standard in 1921.

What Are The Current Fastest Marathon Times?

The current men’s world record holder for the marathon is Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, with an astonishing time of 2:01:39. This record was set in Berlin on September 16, 2018. Kenenisa Bekele is an extremely close second with a time of 2:01:41, only two seconds behind Kipchoge.

On the women’s side, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei holds the current world record for the marathon with an incredible time of 2:14:04. This record was set in Chicago, Illinois, on October 13, 2019. The previous record of 2:15:25, set by Paula Radcliff, went untouched for over 15 years until Kosgei’s brilliant recent performance.

Now that we’ve seen the best of the best marathon runners in the world let’s look at average times and stats for the marathon.

Whats A Good Marathon Time

What Are The Current Average Marathon Times?

According to Run Repeat’s investigation, the overall average marathon time worldwide is 4:29:53. Breaking it up by sex, the average time to run a marathon for men is 4:21:03, and the average time to run a marathon for women is 4:48:45.

The goal of this study was to look at recreational runners. Therefore, elite runners were omitted when compiling these averages.

This study also shows that there has been an increase in average total marathon times over the past years. It seems we are getting a bit slower overall, but this could be the result of the sheer increase in participants.

We’ve finally arrived at the answer to the question you’ve all been waiting for, what’s a good marathon time?

Let’s take a look!

Whats A Good Marathon Time

What’s A Good Marathon Time?

In this section, we are moving away from the general averages and looking at what are considered “good” marathon times.

While looking at this information, it’s important to consider a few things. A “good marathon time” for one runner can vary greatly from a “good marathon time” for another runner, taking into account a few key factors including a runner’s:

The times we will look at today are based on an intermediate running level. To see average times for beginner, novice, advanced or elite runners, you can take a look here.

With that being said, according to Running Levela “good” marathon time across all sexes and ages is 3:48:20. Breaking it down by sex, 3:34:56 is a good marathon time for men, and 4:08:09 is a good marathon time for women.

Let’s break it down even further!

Whats A Good Marathon Time

What Are The Recent Average Marathon Times By Age and Sex?

Running Level breaks down marathon times by age and ability, including beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite. We have included the average times by age and sex for intermediate runners.

Intermediate runners are defined as faster than 50% of other runners and have been running regularly for at least two years.

Average Intermediate Marathon Times: Male

Age Group Average Intermediate Marathon Time
20-30 3:34:56
31-40 3:37:34
41-50 3:51:08
51-60 4:12:14
61-70 4:37:37
71-80 5:15:55
81-90 6:48:48

Average Intermediate Marathon Times: Female

Age Group Average Intermediate Marathon Time
20-30 4:08:41
31-40 4:10:30
41-50 4:26:01
51-60 4:59:10
61-70 5:45:23
71-80 6:52:37
81-90 9:37:35
Whats A Good Marathon Time

Suppose you want to see how you stack up to the average for your sex, age, and running level. In that case, you can calculate your specific running times against Running Level’s database. Click here for their handy dandy calculator.

As runners, we want to strive to do our very best and continue to smash our PRs. Now that you’ve seen how you compare to the average and “good” race times around the globe, let’s take a look at 6 ways to improve your marathon time for your next big race.

6 Tips To Improve Your Marathon Time

#1: Include Interval Training In Your Running Program

Adding interval training into your marathon training plan will make you faster. Whether it be shorter intervals that work your Vo2 Max or longer intervals such as threshold runs, they each have a particular objective to make you a better runner.

Commonly, shorter speedwork for marathon training takes plan at the beginning of the marathon cycle. Workouts such as 800, kilometer, and mile repeats are an excellent way to start.

As we continue advancing in our training plan, we can move on to longer speedwork, such as threshold runs, that will make you more tolerant to holding faster paces.

Speedwork, in general, helps you improve your running economy, turnover, and cadence, which in turn will make you a more efficient and faster runner.

Whats A Good Marathon Time

#2: Practice Your Race Pace

First, to practice your race pace, you need to know your estimated race pace. To figure this out, you can take a 3k or 5k test, plug in the result to this race pace calculator, and voila, you’ve got your estimated race time and pace.

After you have this precious piece of information, slowly work your marathon race pace into your long runs. Remember, gradually adding race pace in is the key to avoiding overuse injuries and, more importantly, frustration.

This pace will not be easy to hit, especially at the beginning of your training cycle. You also may be wondering how in the heck you’re supposed to maintain it for the entirety of a marathon. As you increase the time and distance run at this pace, it will become more tolerable.

#3: Nail Down Your Nutrition and Hydration

During your long runs, especially those closer to the end of your training, you need to practice your race nutrition and hydration.

To run a strong, fast marathon, you need to be fueled up and hydrated adequately to have a constant energy flow. Put together a nutrition strategy according to your weight and fluid loss while running, and practice it tirelessly during your long runs.

This will aid you in avoiding hitting the famous “wall” and staying strong until that last mile!

Whats A Good Marathon Time

#4: Include Strength Training In Your Program

I am a stickler for strength training and find it imperative for any runner, beginner or seasoned, young or mature.

Be sure your strength training sessions are running-specific and are not so strenuous that they tire you out for your runs. Running is your priority, and you always want to be in tip-top shape for your running sessions.

Two strength-training sessions of 30-40 minutes a week are plenty. You can even do this from the comfort of your own home with a few resistance bands and a set of adjustable dumbbells.

When you get to the second half of the marathon, you’ll be delighted you added those strength training sessions in as your legs, back, and well, entire body will be able to hold up against all odds.

Whats A Good Marathon Time

#5: Respect Your Rest Days

Many runners think that more is better, but with all the research out there, we should know by now that this is not quite the case. Your improvement and fitness gains are directly linked to your recovery. We must respect our recovery days to become better runners.

Allow your body to improve, rest and recuperate on those days off. Get sports massages, take care of those callouses, sleep and eat well. All of this will aid in your preparation for a marathon as you will become a stronger, more efficient runner.

#6: Follow a Training Plan

Last but by no means least, Follow a well-thought-out training plan put together by a professional. Yes, we have all heard of amazing runners who crush races and claim not to have a structured training plan or coach, but the majority of us need this structure and guidance.

Following a training plan ensures you are not overdoing it and risking injury. It will also appropriately spread out the different types of workouts you need to include, such as speedwork, long runs, marathon-specific training sessions, recovery runs, cross-training, and strength training.

If you have a seasoned coach guiding you along, even better!

So, how do you stack up to the average intermediate marathon runner? Motivated to take your training up a notch? If you are ready and raring to go, you can check out our marathon training plans for guidance!

Let’s do this!

Whats A Good Marathon Time

Katelyn Tocci

Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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