Running a mile is not as simple as it sounds. There are many factors that affect how long it takes to run a mile. In this article, we’ll take a look at why running a mile is such a complex task and how you can make it faster.
- On average, a healthy adult can run a mile in approximately 9 to 10 minutes.
- The average mile time for a new runner is 12 to 15 minutes.
- The time it takes to run a mile can vary greatly depending on your fitness level, age, and gender.
Before 1954, people believed that running a mile in less than 4 minutes wouldn’t be possible. Yes, until Roger Bannister beat that time and ran a mile in 3 minutes 59 seconds.
The current mile run world record is sitting at 3 minutes 43 seconds.
But how long it takes to run a mile depends on several factors. There are things like age, gender, and fitness level that will come into play when running a mile.
Factors That Affect Your Mile Time
When considering how fast it will take to run a mile without stopping, it’s not as simple as saying a single time as not everyone’s the same and running under the same conditions.
The three main factors fall under age, gender, and fitness level.
The Impact of Age on Your Mile Time
Under 18, you can typically perform well in physical activities (see our other article on how fast a child can run a mile). In your 20s to 35s, running performance basically does not decline.
- As we hit 40, our running speed and mile times naturally slow down.
- This decline is slow and gradual (around 1 percent annually until 65-70s, after which the drop becomes naturally more substantial).
The exact amount that mile time decreases will depend on fitness level and training. In any case, research suggests that the age-related decline in running speed can be somewhat significant.
However, age doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. Regular exercise and training can help mitigate age-related declines in running performance and help keep up with the mile run time.
How Gender Affects Mile Run Times
When it comes to running a mile, gender can definitely play a role in how fast someone can complete it. On average, men tend to have faster mile run times than women due to differences in muscle mass and oxygen uptake.
- Men’s average mile run time is around 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
- The time for women is about 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
- However, it’s important to note that these are just averages, and individual abilities can vary greatly.
The world record for the mile run by a man is 3 minutes and 43 seconds, while the women’s record is 4 minutes and 12 seconds.
There are several reasons why men might run faster than women. One is the difference in body composition.
Men typically have more muscle mass and less body fat than women, which can give them an advantage in running. Men also tend to have larger lung capacity and higher hemoglobin levels, so they can take in more oxygen and deliver it to their muscles more efficiently.
The Role of Fitness Level in Determining Your Mile Time
This can be broken up into 3 different categories. Beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Beginners: Beginners will typically be someone who has only just started running and has maybe a tiny bit of experience.
Someone who has just started running is only going to be able to run a mile in a slower time frame than someone who is more experienced and has built up better fitness levels.
Intermediate: An intermediate runner will have been running for a while and relatively frequently, this will mostly be for health or pleasure reasons but will be a decent amount faster than a beginner.
Advanced: Then the advanced runners, this level of experience is quite broad as it can be someone who just runs a lot, someone who competes for fun, and then can go as far as elite-level athletes.
The elite runners speed quicker than average and can run a mile much faster.
Average Mile Times
When asking how long it takes to run a mile, looking at average mile times for different genders, ages, and experience levels is a good way to do it.
Women’s Average Mile Times
Mile run times for women can vary based on age and level of running:
For women up to age 19:
- Beginner level: average mile time is around 10 minutes and 55 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Advanced level: roughly 7 minutes and 9 seconds.
For women between the ages of 20 and 35:
- Beginner level: around 8 minutes and 31 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 7 minutes and 41 seconds.
- Advanced level: approximately 6 minutes and 27 seconds.
For women over age 50:
- Beginner level: average time is 15 minutes and 47 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 8 minutes and 17 seconds.
- Advanced level: around 6 minutes and 54 seconds.
These are average times. Individual variations can be significant based on fitness level, training, and health.
Men’s Average Mile Times
Mile run times for men can vary based on age and level of running:
For men up to age 19:
- Beginner level: average time is 9 minutes and 37 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 7 minutes and 23 seconds.
- Advanced level: around 6 minutes and 5 seconds.
For men between the ages of 20 and 35:
- Beginner level: average time is 8 minutes and 39 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 6 minutes and 39 seconds.
- Advanced level: around 5 minutes and 29 seconds.
For men over age 50:
- Beginner level: average time is 14 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Intermediate level: about 8 minutes and 14 seconds.
- Advanced level: around 6 minutes and 10 seconds.
So, a 10-minute mile is pretty good if you haven’t been running a lot.
These times are averages, so individual variations based on fitness level, training, and health can be significant.
Understanding Mile Run Times: Factors to Consider Before You Hit the Track
By viewing average mile run times by gender, fitness level, and age, you can better understand how long it may take someone in your situation to run a mile.
Note those factors to set realistic expectations.
You can find out how long it takes to run a mile for you:
- Run a mile on a flat course.
- Record your time and effort level.
- Evaluate your performance to see if you can improve or need to train more to get a faster mile time.
This gives you a rough idea of your mile time and can work towards improving your performance.
For beginner runners, it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere, and taking things slowly at first is okay.
If you’re a beginner, expect to be closer to the average time for your gender and age group. However, consistency and practice can improve your mile time over time.
Here are a few tips for beginner runners to help improve their mile time:
- Start with a slow pace and gradually increase your speed over time.
- Incorporate interval training into your running routine.
- Mix up your running terrain to challenge your body in new ways.
- Focus on building endurance and strength through cross-training activities.
Check out our other piece on the effectiveness of running a mile every day as well.
No matter what is your time, don’t compare yourself to other people. The speed at which you run a mile really depends on yourself.
Your personal best may be an impressive time but that doesn’t mean you’ll be running that time each run. You may be having an off day, or perhaps haven’t run in a while.
If you’re looking to improve then you should only be comparing yourself, to yourself. Consistent running and recording will help you to improve your time.
You can look for the next challenge when you reach your first one-mile goal! 7-minute mile is a great goal to achieve next.