If you’re here with me in the sunroom, and my cat, Bo, he likes to hang out in here with me too. You are probably new to running on this particular video, you’re trying to figure out what’s a good time for a 5K? Well, because you haven’t been introduced before. I’m Jessie Funk. This is a show I like to call Runner’s High. And today, we’re going to talk about the actual numbers to figure out. How are you doing? Are you running a good 5K? We’ll get into it in this episode today.
Now, it’s one of the questions that get asked really, really often something I see on the subreddit for running all the time. Is this a good 5K time? Am I doing okay? Is this okay? What about this? How is that? Well, here’s the coach’s not so fun answer, it depends. Right? It depends on where you are. What’s your history of fitness? Have you ever run before? You know, are you trying to match a time from high school? Or are you trying to lose weight? Or you know-- There’s all these kinds of things that can kind of qualify whether that is good.
I personally like to say, find a benchmark. And when you improve, then you’re doing well. Now, that’s probably not why you’re here, right? You don’t want me to just tell you, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” You want to know, how am I doing against everybody else? Well, here we go. Let’s look at some of the actual numbers to figure out if you’re doing good or not.
So, here next to me, I’ve got a chart of numbers. And it’s important that we break these numbers down both into gendered results, and age groups. This is how races break it down. Whether you’re doing a running race, a triathlon, any kind of endurance race, and a lot of sports in general. Because there are gender differences and there are differences between age. Age, in particular, because with running, we have to figure out, “Hey, are you even old enough to have gotten time in to put base miles in to get good?” And then there’s a point of diminishing returns as well.
Runners typically peak in their 30s and then it starts to be a downhill slide from there. So, I’m trying to finish up and get all the best times I can before Mother Nature catches up with me. That’s where I am right now. So, for you, we can look at this chart and we have to figure out, hey where am I? Where am I on this chart? But if we want to make a general idea or a general consensus, men's average time is going to be roughly in the like 30 to 32-minute range, somewhere around there.
And this data is taken from Healthline. So, depending on what day you’re looking at, it’s going to vary a little bit. And then when we’re talking women, you’re probably going to be somewhere in the 36 to 38 minute for an average 5K time.
Now, why does the average matter? The average matters because we are thinking about where the middle of the distribution of numbers is, that’s generally going to be the average. Now, it can vary a little bit from there. But it’s a good way to estimate what the average is.
If you remember, back in school, or maybe you’re in school right now, we talk a lot about the bell curve, which is a distribution of numbers over a given series. So, we like to see these numbers line up like a bell curve. And hopefully, my video editor will have a nice bell curve graph so you can understand what I’m talking about.
When we think about the average, it’s what lines up right in that center, when we go to the very top of that bell curve, the top of the bell, that’s where the average should be. So, you can use that as a mark for the 50th percentile, the very middle of the pack. If you’re faster than that time, then I think it’s easy to say you are doing well, you’re doing good, you’re having good 5K time. If you’re below that, don’t be disheartened, you are a beginner, right? You’re just learning how to maximize your potential, you’re just getting in shape.
Now, on each end of that bell curve, there are diminishing return-- well, not diminishing returns so much as less and less people that are going to exist in either case. Now, both ends have their own challenges. But if you’re on the end of that bell curve towards the back of the pack, and you’re just getting started, here’s some good news. Most likely, you’re not going to be spending much time there. Because if you put in the time, put in the effort, hang out with me, subscribe to the channel. I couldn’t help myself but hit that button, please.
If you spend time on yourself to get better to get more fit to spend time running, you are going to improve and you’re going to move out of that and peace relatively quickly. Just because most people that are going to stay in that category are probably not going to be spending that much time on their fitness. So, you can move forward, move more towards the average, and maybe eventually get over that hump and onto the other side. That all depends on a lot of things, including you, your training schedule, life, genetics, all those kind of things, too much for us to encompass in this particular video.
On the other end, if you’re past that middle point, and you’re going towards the top end, I’ve seen various stats here. But often, the top 1% of times starts somewhere around middle 17s or so. So, if you’re anywhere there and beyond you are way into that distribution group. And if you’re beginning in there, also good news, you’ve probably got lots of room for improvement. But if you’ve been there for a while, it gets very, very difficult to get much faster. Genetic starts becoming a much bigger limiting factor.
So, that’s the rundown. Those are the averages. Where are you? What’s your story? Are you just starting out? Are you trying to meet that time from high school? We’d love to know what’s going on with you. So, leave them down in the comments below. Share with me, what’s your most recent 5K time? How are you feeling? What are you struggling with? Let me help you. Let me make a video for you to address your particular problems. As I said, leave them down in the comments below. And I’d love to help you. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.