New to running? You’ve probably heard runners talk about their mile times. But if you’re a complete newbie, you may not know what a good mile time is.
The truth is that it can vary quite a bit, even for experienced runners. Your fitness plays an obvious role, but so do age, gender, and even things like weather and terrain.
In this article, we’ll look at the average time it takes to run a mile – and about the various factors that can play a role in how fast your run.
Table of Contents
- How Far Is a Mile?
- Average Mile Run Time
- Factors That Affect How Long It Takes To Run A Mile
- Tips On Running A Faster Mile
How Far Is a Mile?
To figure out how long it takes to run a mile, it’s helpful to understand exactly how far a mile is.
For some real-world context, a mile is:
- 5,280 feet
- 1,760 yards
- 1.6 kilometers
- 4 laps around a standard track
Average Mile Run Time
Generally, a beginner should be able to run a mile in 12 to 15 minutes. Once you have a bit of experience, you should be able to increase that to 9 to 10 minutes per mile.
The two most important factors that impact your mile time are your fitness level and your experience as a runner.
Other factors come into play even within those, so it’s very hard to nail this down!
For example, a runner with 20 years of experience training for a half-marathon is likely to run a faster mile than a runner with 20 years of experience who’s got metatarsalgia and just wants to get some exercise in their day.
2021 data from the running app Strava suggest that the average mile time for men is 9:38 and for women, 11:08.
Keep in mind that these numbers span runners across all ability levels, ages, distances, and terrain.
It’s more likely that this is based on casual or competitive runners rather than elite runners. But it’s an interesting insight especially for new runners wondering what the general numbers are.
For more specific data, here are some averages you can work toward depending on your fitness.
Note that these are based on the age group of 25 to 30 years of age, which is considered to be “running prime.”
- Beginners: Men, 9:25; women, 10:40
- Amateurs: Men, 7:48; women, 9:00
- Intermediates: Men, 6:37; women, 7:44
- Advanced: Men, 5:46; women, 6:48
- Elite: Men, 5:08; women, 6:05
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes To Run A Mile
Knowing what can influence your mile time means you can work towards improving it by working around these factors.
Some of them you won’t be able to change, but understanding them can give you a better insight into your own mile time.
It makes sense that a beginner will probably run a slower mile than an experienced runner.
However, you may find some beginners that are naturally gifted, and some experienced runners who have never progressed much beyond their beginner times.
But in general, if you’re just starting, you can expect anything from 8 to 15 minutes per mile. Keep in mind that this is one aspect, though, and the following factors also play a huge role.
A beginner runner with a good fitness base will run a faster mile than a more experienced runner with poor fitness—yes, some runners can have bad fitness levels!
If you’re a beginner who’s never done any kind of cardio fitness before, you’re likely to fall more on the 12 to 15-minute spectrum.
On the other hand, if you’re already quite fit but you’ve been doing activities other than running, you may be able to run closer to an 8 to 10-minute mile right off the bat.
No matter what your running level, tackling rough terrain generally adds time.
For example, trail running on a course with hills, rocky ground, and mud, will take longer as you navigate the hazards.
Running on a track or treadmill, for example, is smooth and straightforward, and is highly likely to help you run a mile faster.
The hotter the weather, the slower you’re likely to run. This is because some of your body’s resources will go towards cooling the core temperature, so you’ll have slightly less energy to put toward your performance.
Note that you also may run slower in rainy or windy weather. Rain can slow you down by impairing visibility or bringing in the need for a bit more care when running across the slippery ground.
Windy conditions can be tough when you’re running into the wind. It can also tire you out much faster.
The more you train with a focus on improving your pace, the better your mile time will get. If you aren’t truly aiming to improve it, it’s unlikely that you’ll see a noticeable change.
However, if you’re making a focused effort to improve that time, you’ll notice your mile time getting less and less as you train.
In general—but not always—men run a faster mile than women.
It’s believed that it’s because men are naturally leaner and more muscular, and they also tend to have larger hearts and lungs, which is handy for cardiovascular exercise!
Tips On Running A Faster Mile
Want to improve your own mile time? There’s no magic formula, but if you incorporate these tips into your running, you should notice that your performance improves.
Set Smart Goals
Don’t aim for a 6-minute mile right out of the gates. Be realistic and increase your goals in realistic increments.
Get Your Form Right
Proper form is essential for increasing speed (and reducing injuries). The key is to look straight ahead and focus on landing your front foot underneath your pelvis, not out ahead of your body.
Work On Your Breathing
Get used to breathing into your diaphragm—what feels like your stomach—instead of superficial chest breathing. This allows you to fill your lungs and helps you perform better.
Do Strength Training
Strength training—weight lifting or bodyweight exercise—will build the muscles responsible for powering you through your run.
Wear the Right Shoes
Your shoes need to support your feet. If you’re an overpronator or need an extra cushion, make sure your shoes provide what you need.
Don’t Run On a Full Stomach
Eating 1 to 2 hours before your run means your food will be digested and that energy is ready for use. You won’t be full and feel weighed down.
You should have at least one full rest day per week. Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting rest! It’s essential for performance.
Consistency is key to improving quickly. Stick to your training even when it gets hard, and you’ll start to reap the benefits.