How Far Is A 5k Running Race?

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: May 4, 2020

If you’re new to running a 5k is probably your first goal, and it is relatively easy for most people to achieve with a little training. But how far is a 5k running race and how do you get from couch to 5k?

5k refers to the distance 5 kilometres which is just over three miles. You can use the website to map out a 5k distance from your home to get some idea of how far this is.

Image: Shutterstock

Don’t worry if the distance seems a long way, with a little training you’ll find that you can run it in a matter of weeks. – This website allows you to map out a 5K running race distance.

How Long Will It Take Me To Run A 5k Running Race?

5k races are very popular with beginners because it is a distance that most people can accomplish within a relatively short time.

Finish times for a 5k race vary greatly depending on your level of fitness, experience and age. The ‘winner’ might cross the finish line in just 15 minutes while someone walking the distance might take an hour.

To give you some idea of finishing times for a 5k running race:

37:12 – Running 5k at 12 minute mile pace
31:04 – Running 5k at 10 minute mile pace
24:51 – Running 5k at 8 minute mile pace

How To Run A 5k Running Race?

7.6 million runners crossed the finish line of a 5k race in America in 2015, making this is the most popular in the race distance in the running calendar (ahead of 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon race distances).

Nothing with propel you towards the accomplishment of crossing the finish line of your first 5k race like signing up for a race. Find a race near you and tell your friends what you’re working towards, this will give you a deadline and people to hold you accountable.

Many 5k races raise money for charity and knowing that all your hard work is raising money for a good cause can give your training an extra push.

How To Train For Your 5k Race?

Running a 5k distance requires training if you’re going to cross the finish line with a smile on your face.

What your training looks like will differ depending on your level of fitness and how much you are running already. If you are a complete beginner, you should take a look at the NHS couch to 5k plan. This free nine week plan (complete with podcasts) will get you the start line in nine weeks.

There are also several books for beginners about going from Couch 2 5k.

Whatever your level of experience, have a plan in mind.

As you start to run, you need to track your training. If you have a smartphone then you’ll find plenty of free apps to help you. We’d recommend Strava.

When training for your 5k race, don’t forget other forms of exercise. Cross-training with swimming, cycling, yoga or strength training has been proven to reduce injuries and boost your running performance.

How To Find a 5k Run near me?

In many places around the world you’ll find ParkRun, a free weekly 5k run (not a race). These attract people of all abilities with 32:29 being the average ParkRun finishing time in 2018.

Look at the ParkRun website to see if there is a run near you. Other countries have similar free 5k events. For example New York Road Runners organise Open Run.

What To Expect From Race Day?

Having trained to run your 5k race you’re now standing at the start line. If you’ve put in the hard work, the race itself should be a breeze.

Before your race you shouldn’t eat anything unusual or do anything different that might hinder you (A sports drink that your body isn’t used to can sometimes have you running for the restroom). The same goes for your running gear, race day is not the best time to try out your new trainers.

Line up at the start alongside people who you feel comfortable running alongside, and when the starting pistol fires, don’t let yourself be dragged along too quickly in the first mile.

When you cross the finish line throw your arms in the air and appreciate the moment. Completing the journey from couch to 5k is a huge achievement and you need to get a selfie with your medal and share your success with friends and family.

Perhaps you can inspire other people with your achievement.

Now You’re A Runner, What Next?

Having crossed the finish line, it’s time to think about what’s next and look for ways to maintain motivation.

Consider finding a running group to join. Most towns and cities have a number of different groups suitable for runners of different levels or team up with a friend who runs to help to build accountability into your running program.

You could do another 5k race or push for a longer distance to help you to turn running into a habit.

Every marathoner started with a 5k race:

How far is a 5k race? – Around 3 miles
How far is a 10k race? – Around 6 miles
How far is a Half Marathon? – Around 13 miles
How far is a Marathon? – Around 26 miles

Whatever you do, keep running. This time next year you could have a whole rack of medals.

Top Tip – Get a few running books to inspire you to running greatness.

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