I'd like to get some runner's perspectives on this one.

I'm wondering what I might reasonably expect my 5K time to be. I currently run it in 28-29 minutes.

I'm 31, 6'2, 200lbs, and I run a maximum 3 times a week. I always aim for 4 runs, but only seem to be able to squeeze in 3 — some weeks only 2. I started the Couch to 5K in early summer, but only really intermittently. I've been running reasonably steadily since early September. I clocked my first 5K maybe 3 weeks ago. I've already gone from about 32mins down to 28.

Any guesses on how low I could go? My current big goal is sub-25mins.


  • I am 6'2" as well, but at 235lbs my 5K best time was 23:00 or so. But that was after a long season of speed work (reps of 200, 400, 800 or 1600 meters on the track) once a week and a tempo run every week. Took a lot of work to get there.
    – geoffc
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:20
  • 1
    Just as an aside, apocryphal lore (And I've seen it borne out in about n=9 cases) is that for every lb of weight you lose, you gain 3-5 seconds per mile of pace. So, if you were 185 lbs, that would be about 45 seconds faster per mile, that would take off ~ 2:30, so you would be in the 25:30 - 26:00 range for the same effort. Other than that, your key is consistency, and 5-6 short runs are better than 2 long runs.
    – JohnP
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:39
  • What's the top speed you can run at on a treadmill? Smartcoach gives you a good idea of what you can achieve runnersworld.co.uk/racing/runners-world-smartcoach/3057.html based on what you're comfortable running at
    – Chris S
    Oct 23, 2012 at 10:38

4 Answers 4


Definitely think you can go sub 25 minutes. The key with running is "Accumulated fitness". The more often you run and the more consistently (say 4 days a week for an entire year), the better you will become.

So how do you get there?
1) Run often - minimum 4 days a week but slowly see if you can fit 5 or even 6 days a week into your schedule
2) Run consistently - run every week. Don't skip.
3) Add variety - vary your pace, vary your distance, add intervals, add distance, etc.
4) Extend your long run - try to get to 90 minutes by adding 5 minutes a week. Once you get to 90 minutes, try to make the run faster. One week make the last 5 minutes medium. Next week make the last 10 minutes medium, etc.

Good luck! Let us know how you progress.

P.S. I have worked with runners of all age groups. Anyone that has 1) desire to improve 2) discipline in training and diet and 3) even a small bit of athletic talent can improve. I have seen the following as good age goals for male "non-runners"
under 30 - 21:00
30 - 40 - 24:00
40 - 50 - 25:00
50+ - 26:00

  • Great answer Christopher. Thanks so much. Do you actually mean run 90 minutes? In one day? Seems like quite a lot now as I struggle with 30 while doing my 5k!
    – saltcod
    Oct 17, 2012 at 18:28
  • Yes, I do mean 90 minutes at one time! But there are lots of ways to get there. Without knowing you, your history, etc., I would recommend either of these 2 variations. 1) add 5 minutes a week to your run for 2 weeks and then go back to where you started in week 3. Begin week 4 with 5 more minutes. ex. 30, 35, 30, 40, 45, 30, 50, 55, 30, etc. OR 2) do a split run where you do 15 easy, walk 5 minutes, 15 easy. Add 5 minutes to one of the easy each week until you get up to 90 minutes total. Good luck.
    – csi
    Oct 18, 2012 at 17:35

Realistic is very subjective, but I think that the numbers of the German Sports Badge could count as realistic, as they are considered to be achievable by every more or less avid athlete.

For a 5k run the numbers are:

       18-29  30-39  40-44  45-49  50-54  55-59
men:   23:00  25:30  28:00  30:30  33:00  35:30*

*) this activity is not recommended for people over 55, they should talk with a medical professional before attempting.


It's always nice to see people getting into running :)

I personally run my 5k's around 15-17mins. However, I think that time really doesn't matter, it matters whether or not you pushed yourself. I vomit after every race, but I always feel good, physically as well as mentally because I know that I did my best.

Don't worry what your time is, just do your best. (I know that sounds "cheesey", but it doesn't matter if you don't push yourself).

  • 1
    Great to run 5K that fast! You could improve the answer by some more detail, e.g.: Do you push yourself this extreme every time your run? How often & far do you run?
    – FredrikD
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:10
  • Haha thanks :) And yes, I push myself a lot more than I probably should with any official race. I really don't train all that much in honesty, just 2-3 times a week, my friends and I go on 5-6 mile trots.
    – Gavin Sapp
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:17
  • There isn't really a secret as far as I can tell, my friends and I may all just be extremely gifted runners. I apologize that I can't really provide much more than this, but all I can say is that you have to do your best.
    – Gavin Sapp
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:18
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    It may be true, but I am highly skeptical that you are running 15 minute 5k's on a 2-3 "trots" per week. That's about a 4:49 pace, and generally takes quite a bit of consistent, planned training.
    – JohnP
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:37
  • Like I said, I really am not sure. Although 4:49 minutes really does sound wrong.. If i'm correct on this, my average try-hard pace is a 5:10 mile. I'm probably incorrect on 15 mins then, thanks for pointing that out :) I'll time my next 5k coming up in a couple weeks :)
    – Gavin Sapp
    Oct 17, 2012 at 21:25

i ve been building up my pace for 6 months, i started at 34 mins for 5k. i am 39 and weighed 217lb when i started. I read a lot of stuff from the web,(there is loads of it) took on board what i thought was relevant and now i can run it in 25 mins and weigh 185lbs. The most improtant thing is to keep it up, you don t want to be trying to do your best run every time you go out, mix up the distances, pace and routes. It helped me to set short and long term goals and use my slower days to work on my form which in my opinion is very improtant if you are going to try and run faster. Keep going, remember you are going to have off days, don't let slip ups become excuses to stop. Most of all enjoy it!!

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