We often look at 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon times, trying to figure out what a “good” time is and maybe even if we fit into that category. Today, we will take a look at what is perceived as a “good” mile time and where we stand in comparison.
This is a tricky topic as mile times depend on many factors such as age, gender, and fitness level. We will take all of that into consideration as we discuss the following:
- What are the current fastest mile time records?
- What is a good mile time?
- What factors can impact your mile time?
- What is the recent average time to run a mile by age and gender?
- 5 tips for training for and improving your mile time
Are you ready for this?
Let’s jump in!
How Long Is A Mile?
A mile is 1.6 kilometers, 1609 meters, or 4 laps around an Olympic-sized track (4 x 400m, plus 9m at the end!). It is also 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards.
What Are the Current Fastest Mile Times?
The current world record holder for the mile distance in the men’s category is Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, with a time of 3:43.13! On July 7, 1999, this record was set at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.
The women’s world record for the mile was set by Sifan Hassan, an Ethiopian-born Dutch athlete, on July 12, 2019, with a time of 4:12.33!
These paces just seem out of this world, don’t they? Now that we know what the best runners can do let’s check out mile times for the average runner.
What is a Good Mile Time?
Even though the record mile times are incredibly tempting, we clearly understand that most of us will need to set more achievable goals.
Our mile time goals will vary greatly depending on our current fitness level and years of running experience. Running Level, which calculates running times based on age and ability, says that a good mile time for a male is 6:37, and a good mile time for a female is 7:44.
These average times to run a mile are based on an intermediate level runner.
What Factors Can Impact Your Mile Time?
Deciding what a “good” average time to run a mile It depends on several factors such as your age, gender, ability, and fitness level.
Regarding gender, male runners are often faster in most competitive distances due to genetically having more muscle mass and fast twist muscle density.
Age is another factor that can vary greatly as much younger runners may lack development and experience, and older runners may feel a slight decline in performance.
Research suggests that the prime running age category is between 25-35. However, performance declines at a very gradual rate as we age which is excellent news for all of us over 40. We’ve still got plenty of solid running years left!
We can’t control our age, but We can control our fitness level. With the correct training, we can improve our mile time and running level in general. We’ll get to how to do that a bit later.
What are the current average mile times by age and gender?
Let’s now break down the average time to run a mile by gender and age group to see what a good mile time is for each range. We will focus on runners who are at an intermediate running level. Click here to calculate your specific running level based on your current times.
You can also check out the average mile times for beginners and more advanced runners here.
Average Intermediate Mile Times: Male
|Age Group: Male||Average Intermediate Mile Time|
Average Intermediate Mile Times: Female
|Age Group: Female||Average Intermediate Mile Time|
Now that you are pumped up and inspired to improve your mile time, let’s check out 5 ways you can do so:
5 Ways to Improve My Mile Time
#1: Perfect Your Running Form
Improving your cadence, posture, and running form will, in turn, improve your running economy, resulting in faster times.
Here are some quick tips when focusing on your running form:
- Keep your body properly aligned and your legs underneath you; don’t overstride!
- Keep shoulders down and relaxed.
- Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees and gently swing them back and forth. Do not rotate your torso.
- Lean forward slightlykeeping your body aligned and not bending at the waist.
- Keep your strides short and work towards an efficient cadence, ideally around 180 steps per minute.
For more details and to perfect your running form, read our article “Proper Running Form – 8 Tips To Make It Effortless”. These minor changes will result in running more efficiently, therefore, faster!
#2: Work Your Top Speed
Speedwork or interval training at short distances and high intensities will help improve your top speed. By doing so, your running fitness and speed will improve in general and give you a hand in shaving down your mile time.
First, take a mile test to not only have your mile time starting point but to calculate your specific training paces to apply to interval training. You can input your results into this calculator, and it will spit out your paces for you.
The best place to take a mile test is on a standard-sized track. Each loop is 400 meters, so your full mile would be 4 loops of the 400-meter track.
1. Warm up for 15 minutes by jogging at an effortless pace.
2. Do 5 minutes of dynamic stretching.
3. Run your mile as fast as you can without burning out. This can be tricky to gauge if you are not used to taking these tests. My advice would be to start out a bit slower than you think you can run the mile and increase your speed as you finish each loop, running your last loop all out!
Plug your total time into the following pace calculator.
You will use your “repetition” pace for shorter interval training with complete rests and your “interval” pace for interval training with jogging recoveries.
Include some high-intensity speedwork into your training to work on that top speed. Here’s an example of a 400 workout:
Warm-up 10-15 minutes easy
6 x 400 meters repetition pace with 2-3 minutes of total rest in between each one
Cooldown 10 minutes easy
#3 Run To The Hills
In addition to interval training on the track or on the road, you can add in some hill work to increase your overall power, speed, and running economy. Here is an example of a hill repeat workout:
Warm-up for 10-15 minutes on flat terrain.
Find a hill with roughly a 10% incline.
Run uphill for 20 seconds at a hard effort.
Walk slowly back down to your starting point. Be sure and rest for 2-3 minutes in between reps.
Repeat 10 times.
Cool down for 10 minutes on flat terrain.
If you don’t have hills close to where you run, you can always do these workouts on a treadmill. Most treadmills have the capacity to create a 15% grade incline.
#4 Work Your Endurance
Even though our current focus is improving our mile time, we can’t forget about keeping up our endurance. If we focus on interval sessions, we will surely burn ourselves out. Short, intense workouts should only be a small portion of your weekly training, twice a week max.
The other days throughout the week should be recovery runs that feel easy and enjoyable. The time and frequency of these runs will depend on your current fitness level. You can add about 10% more each week to build up your mileage.
These runs will help you recover sufficiently from your interval sessions and be able to jump back into the next one, ready and raring to go. At the same time, they will improve your overall endurance.
#5 Hit The Gym
Strength training is critical for runners to improve their strength, power, balance, coordination, speed, endurance, and prevent injury. All of these benefits will contribute to a good mile time.
Here are some specific exercises That should find their way into your strength training program:
- Squats: bodyweight goblet split pistol
- Longes: reverse, walking, side, front
- Deadlifts: bodyweight, Romanian, one-legged
- Glute bridges: two-legged, one-legged, elevated hip thrust
- Planks: elbow, side, trx, body saw, Spiderman
- Plyometrics: jump squats, jumping lunges, star jumps, lateral jumps, long jumps, box jumps
You can begin with using just your body weight and move on to adding dumbbells as you advance. Do your strength training routine after your runs, so you don’t tire yourself out. Leaving 4-6 hours between sessions is ideal.
Now you’ve got it all, the average mile times and ways that you can improve yours. What are you waiting for? Let’s get training!
Check out our training guides to shave down those mile time:
How To Run a 7 Minute Mile
How To Run an 8 Minute Mile
How To Run a 9 Minute Mile
How To Run a 10 Minute Mile