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Compare Your Running Mile Time for Improvement

Woman running on a track

Many runners want to know what’s considered a good time for running a mile (or kilometer), but it’s tough to answer that question because it’s extremely subjective. Depending on the runner’s age and gender, a “fast” time for a mile or kilometer can vary greatly. Some speedy runners consider running a sub-6:00 mile as a big achievement, while some novice runners might be ecstatic to run a mile under 10:00.

The current world records for the outdoor mile are 3:43.13 for men and 4:12.56 for women. Of course, most runners will never come anywhere close to those times, but they can still work on improving their own personal record for the mile distance.

Mile Times

  • Good: 6:00 or less
  • Competitive High School Male: Under 5:00
  • Competitive High School Female: Under 6:00
  • Male World Record: 3:43.13
  • Female World Record: 4:12.56

Mile Times for High School Students

High school track and cross country runners are often curious about how their mile time would compare to their fellow high school athletes. In most parts of the U.S., high school boys who can run a sub-5:00 mile can be very competitive on high school track and cross country teams. The same is true for high school girls who can run a sub-6:00 mile.

Mile Times for Your Age Group

Age-graded results allow you to compare your race times to the standard for your age and gender. You can use this age-grading calculator to figure out your age-graded race time to get a comparison of how your finishing time compares with others.

Keep in mind that everyone’s abilities vary, so don’t get too caught up in comparing your mile time to other runners’. A great thing about racing a specific distance is that you can compete against yourself, rather than others. You can test yourself by running a mile and then repeat the test after several weeks to see if you’ve improved. If you want to get a true picture of your progress, try to test yourself on the same course, since you’ll run a faster mile on a flat course, compared to a hilly one. So you can compete against yourself and measure your own progress rather than worry about other people’s mile times.

You can also work on improving your pace per mile when you’re doing runs longer than a mile. When running on a treadmill or using a GPS device or running app, you can measure your pace per mile and also see your average pace. As your fitness and endurance improve, you’ll be able to shave time off your pace.

Army Standards for a Two-Mile Run

The Army’s Basic Training Physical Fitness Test (PFT), which Army recruits must pass in order to graduate Basic Training, uses a three-event physical performance test used to assess endurance. The running component of that test is a timed two-mile run. Men ages 17 to 21 must complete two miles in under 15:54 (7:57/mile) and those aged 22 to 26 must run it in under 16:36 (8:18/mile). The time standard for women aged 17 to 21 is 18:54 (9:27/mile) and it’s 19:36 (9:48/mile) for those aged 22 to 26.

How to Run a Faster Mile

If you’re hoping to improve your mile time, there are plenty of ways to get faster. Some training techniques, like focusing on hills, doing speedwork, or paying attention to your stride, can help. Mental tricks may also be useful to help push through the discomfort that comes with racing hard.

Your approach may also differ if you’re a beginner or an experienced runner. Either way, many people improve their time by running a mile without stopping, and with the right training, you can too.

Running Other Distances

You can also improve your mile time by running longer distances as part of your running routine. Make one of your weekly runs a longer distance than your other runs.

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