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What Is A Good Mile Time For Beginners? (How Long To Run A Mile?)

If you are new to running, it can seem incredibly intimidating.

How do you know if you are doing a good job?

One of the most popular ways to gauge progress is tracking how long it takes you to run a mile.

For beginners, it may seem like it takes you forever, but remember that even Olympic athletes started somewhere, and it likely wasn’t blowing over the finish line at an exceptional time.

A good average time to run a mile for beginners is 21 to 15 minutes.

The best way to get yourself in top running condition is to do your research and get some background to help you figure out a good mile time to aim for as a beginner.

Creating Realistic Goals

guy running outside

Keeping things realistic is essential as a beginner runner.

If you push yourself too hard too fast, you will risk an injury that could set you way back.

If you have no idea what time you should aim for when running a mile, it will help immensely to study average times based on fitness level.

For the average beginner runner, the time you should aim for is about 12 to 15 minutes.

This time assumes that you don’t have a lot of endurance yet and may not be entirely in good shape.

If you are more in-shape and have some endurance due to cross-training or other athletics, you could potentially aim for 9 to 10 minutes to run a mile.

You should keep in mind that the human body can only go so fast.

The world record, held by Hicham El Guerrouj, for running a mile is 3:43.13, and elite marathon runners who have trained their bodies to be performance machines average about 4 to 5 minutes.

Understanding Variables

Another step in figuring out your timing is to think about the variables that will impact your abilities.

As we said, the human body has restrictions.

These are the variables that will affect you the most and be the most difficult to overcome. In some cases, they are impossible to overcome.


For example, age plays a huge role.

As your body ages, it loses its ability to function at as high of a level as it did when you were younger.

If you spent your whole life being sedentary, you can expect it will take a long time to get into shape, and running a mile in a quick time will take a lot of hard work.

However, if you are young, you may be able to get into shape quickly, even if you’ve never run before.


Another variable is gender.

Men’s bodies are naturally able to run faster than women’s.

There is nothing you can do about this as it is biological.

Records for runners are always higher for men than women.

You cannot expect a female body to perform the same as a male body.

Nutrition, Hydration, and Weight

Some variables you can control, such as nutrition and hydration.

Staying healthy will really help you with your training and achievements.

In addition, your weight is important. Runners do better with thin and lean bodies.

It is easier to propel a lighter body than a heavier one.

That is simple science.

Your height will play into this, too, but there is nothing you can do about that.


One last variable associated with your body is injuries.

If you have any type of injury, it will lower your physical abilities.

In some instances, your injury will sideline you and prevent you from training, which will impact your time.

However, you have to let injuries heal properly, or they become something that plagues you and holds you back forever.

Weather and Terrain

Other variables are outside your body.

They include weather and terrain.

Weather can impact you in many ways.

If it is incredibly windy, for example, the wind will cause resistance that slows you down.

It could also move you along if you run in the direction in which it is blowing.

The temperature can impact you physically, making it more challenging to run.

Other weather-related issues can also affect your ability to train or to move along at a good pace.

It can also increase injury risks in some situations, such as icy conditions that could lead to slips and falls.

The terrain where you run will also affect the time it takes you to run a mile.

If you are on flat terrain, you will have a much easier time running than if you are on terrain that is uneven or has hills and turns.

The adjustments you have to make in your running speed suffer quite a bit when you are working against the terrain to move forward.

Learning How to Run Faster

The final step you should take when preparing to run a mile and get the best time possible is to learn more about how to run faster.

The one thing to keep in mind above everything else is that you gradually need to build up your time.

This will help you to avoid injuries and to increase your fitness level for the best results.

Focus on Breathing

If you aren’t breathing correctly, it will take its toll on you.

You might feel faint or get sick if you are not taking in enough oxygen to keep your body moving.

Your breathing can serve as a pacesetter in the beginning.

If you are breathing easily, then pick up the speed a little.

If you are struggling with each breath, then slow it down a little.

Build Endurance

If you are brand new to running, you shouldn’t expect to run a whole mile on your first time out.

In fact, you may not be able to run most of the mile.

Instead of trying to force your body to run, consider alternating between walking and running.

Each time you go out, increase the amount of time you run and decrease the walking time.

You will naturally build endurance this way and eventually be able to run the whole mile.

Once you can do that, you can start focusing on the time.

Track Your Progress

Whether you use a fitness app or gadget or just write it down in a notebook, make sure you track when you run, how far you ran, and the time of your run every time you go out.

This will allow you to get a visual and concrete record of how you are progressing.

It can also help you to see where you can improve or when you need to reassess your goals.

Put Safety First

You need to ensure that you stay safe and healthy if you ever want to reach your goals.

So, always take safety seriously every time you go for a run.

Some general tips include making sure you stay hydrated.

Carry a water bottle with you or run a route that gives you access to places to get water.

Let someone know when you are going out on a run and when you expect to be back.

Stay in contact with them, too.

Let them know if you have a delay or change in plans.

Wear proper running shoes to avoid blisters, and always dress appropriately for the weather.

Wear sunscreen whenever you run outside, regardless of how sunny it is outside or the time of year.

Lastly, make sure to always warm your muscles up before taking off.

You want to get the blood flowing to prevent injuries.

Other safety tips are to protect you from possible dangers when you run.

These include following traffic laws and paying attention when out.

Never wear headphones when you run on or near a roadway.

Keep your attention on what is happening around you.

If you run after sunset or before sunrise, make sure to wear highly visible clothing.

It can help to carry a blinking light as well.

It will alert motorists to your presence.

However, you should try to stick to well-lit areas when running at these times of the day.

Take a Holistic Approach

Becoming a fast runner involves ensuring your overall physical fitness.

What this means is that you need to not just focus on running, but that you also have to put in work to build your muscles and reduce your body fat.

Follow a healthy diet that will provide your body with the proper fuel.

Avoid sugar and junk foods high in fat.

Eat plenty of vegetables and other healthy foods.

Also, drink a lot of water.

You should take a couple of days each week to do weight training.

Also, consider other exercises, such as yoga, that will help to improve your flexibility.

Yoga is also an excellent way to help prevent injuries because it helps tone your muscles and keep them in good shape.  

Putting It All Together

Trying to figure out the time in which you should run a mile as a beginner is not a simple process because there is not a single answer.

It depends significantly on your abilities and the many factors that will influence your run.

The bottom line is to set your own goals.

Measure your progress against yourself. Don’t get stuck on comparing yourself to others.

As long as you are taking a solid approach and seeing improvements, you are running a mile in a time that works for you, and that is all that matters.

credit: Pexels

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