What Is a Good Mile Time? Average Mile Time by Age + Gender

Man and woman running in HOKA running shoes

Now that you’ve started running and are completing a full mile without walking, you may be wondering what constitutes a “good” mile time. Of course, you probably know that as a beginner runner, your mile time may not be as quick as someone who has been running for years. However, you can work up to a time that feels good to you.

At Marathon Sports, we believe in striving to do your best in every training session and race. We’re sharing some general guidelines for a good mile time to help you reach your goals. We’ll also cover how long a mile is and factors that may affect a runner’s mile time.

How Long Is a Mile?

A mile is 5,280 feet, 1760 yards, 1.609 kilometers, and slightly more than four laps around a track. The elevation of the city of Denver is also one mile. The term “mile” stems from the Roman phrase mille passus for a thousand paces, measuring out to 5,000 Roman feet.

What Affects a Runner’s Mile Time?

There are countless factors that can speed up or slow down your mile time. They include the following:

  • Age: Your age can affect your mile time, as young runners may not have the physical development or technique to log a fast time. On the contrary, older runners may notice a minor decline in their performance as they age beyond their prime running years. It’s important to remember that performance declines very slowly as runners age.
  • Sex: Male runners are statistically faster in competitive racing because they generally have more muscle mass than women. Of course, you’ll see plenty of female runners with faster mile times than male runners. Men also have more fast-twitch muscles in their legs that can lead to them running faster.
  • Running experience: An experienced runner with proper technique may have a faster mile time than a novice. Elite and competitive runners train to be as fast as they possibly can, while many beginner and recreational runners train for enjoyment and fitness.
  • Fitness level: Similar to runners with more experience, those who are more fit tend to run faster and with superior endurance.
  • Genetics: A person’s genetics may influence how quickly they run a mile. Your genetics can affect how easily you get injured, your flexibility, muscle fibers, your endurance potential, and more.
  • Other factors: Your mile time can also rely on external factors that have nothing to do with you. You may have a slower time due to rain or snow or challenging terrain conditions. Altitude may also slow you down, as less oxygen can get to the muscles, and you have a higher risk of dehydration.

What Is an Average Mile Time?

An average mile time is what many consider a good mile time. It means you’re right in there, finishing with the bulk of the pack. We’ve separated average mile times by skill level so you can assess your rank whether you’re a beginner, novice, intermediate, competitive, or elite runner. We also grouped them by age, as most competitive races separate runners into specific age groups.

Categories of Runners

There are several different levels of running, ranging from beginner to elite. Beginner runners will have drastically different average mile times than elite (professional runners).

These descriptions will help you understand which level of runner you are now and perhaps what level you aspire to be:

Beginner: A beginner runner has logged some miles and has been hitting the pavement for a month or more. They tend to be faster than 5% of other runners who are just now starting the sport.

Novice: Novice runners are a step above beginners. They’re not extremely seasoned in the sport but have been running for more than six months.

Intermediate: Intermediate runners are faster than half the runners out there. They have likely run regularly for about two years.

Competitive: Competitive runners are those who run regularly and strive for the gold during 5K and other racers. They’re roughly 80% faster than most runners out there and have more than five years of experience under their belts.

Elite: Elite runners are professionals who log times faster than 95% of the other runners out there. They have more than five years of experience running and have fully dedicated themselves to the sport. Elite runners compete regularly in local, national, and international races.

Average Mile Times for Men

Age GroupBeginnerNoviceIntermediateCompetitiveElite

Average Mile Times for Women

Age GroupBeginnerNoviceIntermediateCompetitiveElite

Don’t Get Bogged Down By the Numbers

The numbers listed above are solely statistics and rough guidelines. At Marathon Sports, we think all mile times are “good” mile times because you’re getting out there, enjoying the sport, and improving your fitness.

While competitive and elite runners may focus on increasing their mile times, beginner, novice, and intermediate may find their mile times varying greatly from day to day. You may achieve a new personal record one day only to feel sluggish and complete a much slower mile the next day. We encourage runners to forego comparing themselves to others’ numbers and work on personal improvements.

How to Improve Your Mile Time

Many runners hit the streets or track with the goal of being more fit and, ultimately, a better runner. Even if you’re not concerned with time at first, you’ll probably find yourself checking your smartwatch for your mile time as you advance. We compiled a few tips to help you improve your mile time, whether you’re a beginner or an elite athlete.

Time your mile today: You need to time your next mile to establish a baseline for all future miles. Don’t be discouraged if the time falls below the averages listed above. You’ll be there soon.

Train regularly: You won’t improve your mile time if you don’t train regularly. We recommend getting outside and running at least three or four times a week. Vary your runs in length and intensity to improve speed and endurance.

Our Marathon Sports runners love integrating interval training, tempo runs, hill runs, and long runs into their workouts. This also keeps your training from getting boring, a common reason why people stop running.

Don’t forget about strength training: Strength training exercises at home or your local gym can help build stronger, more dynamic core and leg muscles. Stronger legs and core muscles will improve your running efficiency and form.

Focus on form: Different runners have different forms based on their experience, body type, and other factors. However, we recommend working on having an efficient arm swing, a relaxed upper body, and striking at the midfoot. A better running form will help you save energy while improving your mile time.

Remember to rest: Rest is a critical part of becoming a faster runner. Some people think they’ll increase speed by training extensively every day. However, overtraining can cause injuries that drastically slow your progress. Be sure to rest one or two days a week and any time your muscles feel abnormally sore.

Set achievable goals: At Marathon Sports, we’re all for goals that you can achieve. Establish what you think is a good mile time at your current experience level and shoot for that. Once you achieve it, try for an even better PR.

Stay hydrated and eat well: Hydration and a healthy diet are essential aspects of everyday life. They’re extremely important when training for a faster mile, too. Eating right and drinking plenty of fluids will help you perform your best.

Ask us for help: At Marathon Sports, we eat, sleep, dream, and even work running. It’s our passion, and we’re happy to share our best techniques with you. Stop into one of our brick and mortar stores to receive expert advice from our team members, who also happen to be avid runners.

Track your progress: We recommend investing in a GPS watch, purchasing a comfortable arm strap for your phone, or using old-fashioned pen and paper to record your mile times. Keep track of the days you excel and the days you feel sluggish so you can know what helps you thrive or holding you back.

Run Your Best Mile

At Marathon Sports, we believe running a good mile time is any mile that you finish. It’s important to understand that improving mile times takes time and consistent training.

The right running shoes and gear can also help you reach your goals. Visit us and take part in our “The Right Fit” program to find the running shoes and gear that are ideal for your running style, fitness level, past injuries, pronation, and more.