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Couch to 5K
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Average 5k pace by age and gender in the US

Warning: long post for lovers of data and talk of 5k times 🙃

Obviously C25K is not about speed, but I see a lot of people wondering and worrying about times and distances... the fact the program has 5k in the title with 30 minute runs sets up the expectation nicely and I am not immune to this lure!

I thought the graph in the picture was really interesting. It represents the race results for over 10,000 non-elite 5k runners in the US in 2010.

The average pace overall was 11’47 per mile (or 7’19 per km, translating to 5k in 36’35). The graph in the picture (if you expand it) shows the average pace per mile for your gender and age.

I love this, because my age/gender pace is super friendly! I looked at my local Park Run and the average time was 28’43 😱. I know this includes young men and women in their 20s and people who have been running for years, but it is still very daunting.

Park Runs show a percentile score (or an ‘age-grade’) on their results page. I thought initially that might be a good way of finding a realistic time goal - but basically, they take the World Record time for someone of your age and gender and give you a percentile score based on that - if you get 90% you are ‘world class’, over 60% you are ‘local class athlete’. It’s a tough system, being graded against a world record (!) and although it’s useful as a measure of how well one is doing for their age and gender, and works as a kind of handicapping system, it doesn’t feel very relevant to me as a beginner runner. I just wanted some figures that give me a bit of motivation and reassurance and this graph does 🙂

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I’ve just looked at my local ones, the slowest 56m....there’s hope for me!!

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Always good to know!

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One of my local ones had a first finisher in VM50-54 in a sub 18 minute run... I’ve seen him on his warmup jog, and there’s no way I could keep up!! He scored over 85% on age grading which is approaching world class running. He’s been running a long time, I’d have loved to have seen him at his peak!

The record parkrun age grading though is 179.04% so even though it’s against world (road) records a high score is possible!

I don’t know if anyone out there is taking data for new parkrunners, but it would be a few minutes higher no doubt, and higher again for new runners.

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That’s incredible. It’s inspiring seeing people doing something really, really well, isn’t it?

I couldn’t understand how someone could have scored 179.04% - I mean, if you equal the World Record you score 100% - the only thing that makes sense is if they were 100 years old and perhaps only the second or third person to run an official 5k. Anyway, I looked it up and guess what?! Fauja Singh set this record when finishing Valentines parkrun in 38:34 on 31 March 2012, the day before his 101st birthday.

Just ‘wow’ 😲👏👏👏

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Yeah... I think many people had done the run... but he annihilated it... shame that he didn’t have the paperwork to ratify any of his records as there were no birth certificates in India when he was born. Also he hasn’t run his whole life... so there’s hope for all of us!

The guy at the local parkrun has an average finishing position under 2 and runs there lots... he’s got absolutely perfect form, and I think he could run all day long!

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Oh this is heartening. I am about average for my age group - and I’m at the top of the age band. Next year I’ll be fast 😁. Thanks ktsok.

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Love it 😊

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Today at our parkrun, the young chap (20-24 age group) who came in first did it in 15.58! He was over 2 minutes quicker than the next finisher. The person who came in with the tailwalker finished in just under an hour. It’s why I love parkrun - it welcomes everyone! 🏃❤️🏃‍♀️🐕

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That’s so nice to hear. All of this looking at data is really about psyching myself up to go and do it at some point!

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You will love it! Today I volunteered, which is equally as much fun. Everyone is so friendly. Find your local one and have a go. You won’t regret it. 👍😀

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😬🤪👍

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It took me a while to interpret this information, not least because the rate is in minutes per MILE, yet we call it a 5km race. Fortunately it is an easy conversion of 1.6km = 1 mile. So I am off the end of the scale after my first park run. The hundred year old did it in 1 1/2 minutes less than my time. Ha ha, but it was my first, and I guess i can only get better. LOL

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Yes, I converted the average figure but reckoned those who were interested could find an online conversion calculator/do their sums! It does say per mile on the graph, seems silly when we are talking a 5k race.

Quite frankly, anyone who gets themselves to a Park Run and gets round 5k is a winner in my book - I reckon just by doing it you are already <90% of the general population. And look at you - comparing yourself on your FIRST Parkrun to someone who smashed a World Record to smithereens! 😆😊

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Thanks ktsok for these graphs, they are really interesting as they're showing times for "normal" runners, rather than elite runners.

And apparently I'm slightly faster than the average American of my age, which is always nice to know (maybe I'm not as snail-like as I thought!!)

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You are welcome! I do like a nice graph that shows the results I want to see 😂

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Hurrah!!! After reading this, I m changing my name to "Older But Still Damn Fast Mo"! 🤣🤣🤣😂

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Or FlashJohn?!

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Temps too cold here 😂🤣

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Haha!

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I love a bit of data, me! Nice to see I’ve finally squeezed into the ‘slightly better than average US runner’ category! Thanks 🙏😁👍

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It’s good isn’t it? 😊

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Think they should also grade by length of leg 😄

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Excellent idea! (If it works in my favour lol)

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Tall people have a lot of advantages with this already 😄

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This is true. I’m a climber and we have lots of discussions about the grading of routes according to whether you can reach the darn holds!

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(Then some tiny child prodigy comes along and scales the rock on invisible holds without breaking a sweat 🙄)

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Typical 😁

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Thank you for this, it’s great! I aim to work my way up from the geriatric bracket 😂

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If you look at the results page of any parkrun you can see for yourself the spread of times:

For example, my 'local': parkrun.org.uk/birkenhead/r...

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Yes, I have been examining my local PR results with interest (and trepidation). 10,000 results put together gives an interesting (and different) perspective though - it would be fun to have a UK Park Run equivalent of this!

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I don’t take any notice of the stats on Parkrun, I just do them for the enjoyment and only compete with myself.....a PB is a PB whatever your pace 🤗

I’m liking your chart, I’m 70 and it shows I have an average pace of a 40-50yr old......I’ll settle for that ☺️

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Ah, glad you like it! It’s good to think you are giving those American 40 year olds a run for their money! Much friendlier than the Parkrun stats, I thought 🙂

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After examine this chart, I'm anxiously waiting for October, when I'll be 60 and will change to way easier category! 😄

Seriously, what a big difference between men in 59 and 60. Almost one minute!

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I guess if we take the midpoint in each category, which the average implies, you are looking at a 1 minute difference over 5 years really - but yes, so nice to be at the beginning point of a new age category!

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I’m going to bump this up as I have seen quite a bit of chatter about 5k paces (again)! Just wanted to emphasise that the ONLY category to average 5k in sub-30 minutes were the men aged 16 - 19, and men aged 20 - 24.

(6’00” km pace = 9’39.3” per mile)

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My local parkrun 1st 17.10 last 48.58

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