September 10, 2020
What factors most in the ability of an average person to run is the level of fitness. Other elements play into it as well, like genetics, the pace of the run, and distance you’re trying to cover. But generally, if you’re fit, you’re fast.
If you’re new to running, expect to run a mile in about 12 to 15 minutes. It takes time to build up endurance, but stick to it to create unbreakable exercise habits and you’ll get there. A relatively in-shape, non-competitive runner can usually complete a one mile run in about 9 to 10 minutes. Elite marathon runners, like Olympic runners, can average a mile in only 4 to 5 minutes. Currently, Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco is the current men’s record holder, running a mile in just 3:43.13. Ethiopian-born Dutch middle and long-distance runner, Sifan Hassan, holds the women’s record of 4:12.33.
Age is a big factor in how fast you run. Most runners reach their fastest running speed between the ages of 18 and 30. The chart below illustrates age vs. average running speed per mile in a 5K race (or 3.1 mile race):
|Age||Men (min per mile)||Women (min per mile)|
One of the main reasons why male athletes often run faster times than female athletes is muscle mass. Simply put, having more fast-twitch muscles in the legs results in more speed.
However, at longer distances, studies show that women may have an advantage. While men tend to have bigger muscles and greater strength and aerobic capacities, women have a larger distribution of slow twitch muscle fibres which are more resistant to fatigue and more suitable for endurance.
No matter if you’ve been jogging for years or if it took you seven months to make it around the block, the trick to running is to keep going. While there’s no one-size-fits-all predictor of lost fitness, recent studies suggest that decreases in endurance performance range from 4 to 25 percent after three to four weeks of no exercise. For most runners, it takes about seven to 14 days for your aerobic fitness to start declining, and what you lose first are the gains you’ve made in the last several months of training.
If you’re new to running, it’s important to build up mileage gradually so you can avoid injuries. Adding a couple more miles to your weekly running schedule every two weeks can help increase endurance and speed. Scheduling a daily workout to get you motivated can also help accelerate your progress even if you do it slowly.
Of equal importance is safety while running. Some handy ready-to-run precautions include:
There are a number of things you can do to decrease the time it takes you to run a mile. For example, try to do a variety of workouts each week – include a long run in your schedule, followed by speed or interval training. Also, while it’s nobody’s favorite exercise, adding incline running, aka “running hills”, to your routine will build up more strength in your legs.
To figure out your average mile time, map out one mile on a flat road or surface near your home, or, figure out how many laps it takes to run a mile on a track in your area. Most tracks are 400 meters around – that’s just a bit less than one-quarter of a mile. Here are some measurements that are helpful for runners:
100 meters: The length of one straightaway
800 meters: Approx. ½ mile or 2 laps around the track
1600 meters: Roughly 1 mile or 4 laps around the track
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, and time yourself as you run one mile. You can use this mile time as your baseline for training. As you build up speed and endurance, return to the one-mile trial every few weeks and repeat the timed run. You might be surprised at your progress!
Maybe it was seeing runners crush a race in on a track, or perhaps you’re just looking for a way to be more active, or lose weight. Whatever the motivation, the best time to start running is right now. Many factors, including age and sex, will ultimately influence your running speed, but no matter who you are, increasing your fitness level and building up endurance will help you run faster.