Challenging but not too daunting, a 10K or 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race is a popular distance for both professional and everyday runners. In fact, 1.8 million people ran a 10K in 2018, according to a 2019 report from RunRepeat.com and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
If you're new to the distance, you may be wondering what an average 10K time looks like. Or if you already have a few races under your belt, you may want to see how your PR (personal record) stacks up. As you gear up for your first (or next) 10-kilometer race, set your goals by considering these professional and standard finish times.
On average, non-elite runners can finish a 10K in between 45 and 75 minutes. The typical male road racer finishes in about 56 minutes, while the average female runner completes the race in about 1 hour and 4 seconds, according to Running USA.
10K World Record Times
Because they're runners at the top of their game, elite athletes can complete the 6.2-mile race in 30 minutes or less, meaning they're running about a 5-minute-mile pace or faster.
Historically, runners of Kenyan and Ethiopian descent have dominated the men's 10,000-meter world records, while Chinese and Ethiopian runners have held the world record among female professionals, according to the IAAF.
Currently, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia holds the men's world record in the 10K with a time of 26 minutes, 17 seconds. This equates to an average mile time of 4 minutes, 14 seconds.
The current women's world record is held by Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia. She broke the existing record with a time of 29 minutes, 17 seconds, which breaks down to an average mile time of 4 minutes, 43 seconds.
Average 10K Race Times
The world record 10K times are certainly impressive, but they're also far from average. Joggers or casual runners will hit the finish line at a range of slower times, generally between 45 and 75 minutes, depending on their fitness level.
The typical male road racer finishes a 10K race in about 56 minutes, which equates to a mile time of about 9 minutes, 2 seconds, according to data LIVESTRONG.com obtained from Running USA.
Female road racers don't finish too far behind their male counterparts. The average female runner completes the race in about 1 hour and 4 seconds. That's an average mile time of about 10 minutes, 32 seconds.
The specific features of your chosen racecourse will affect your time. More challenging courses that include lots of hills, like Bolder Boulder, an annual Memorial Day race at high altitude in Colorado, will typically yield slower times than a flat, sea-level course.
And trail races or cross-country layouts that include a variety of terrains, such as grass fields, streams and dirt paths with tree roots also will generally slow a runner’s typical 10K time.
If Running Your First 10 K Feels Daunting, Start Here
Improving Your 10K Race Time
In order to improve your 10K race time, there are several things you can do during training. Contrary to what you might think, scaling back your mileage can actually help improve your race time, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). If you're a conditioned distance runner, you may want to trade some of your longer runs for workouts focused on building your speed.
Try several different running workouts, including interval training, tempo runs and hill training. Speed work will help improve your fitness and performance, challenging your cardiovascular system. However, don't perform speed work more than once a week, since it's high intensity and presents a greater risk of injury.
Make sure to take at least one rest day a week in order to give your muscles proper time to rebuild and get stronger. Stacking on too much exercise can lead to injury and overtraining. On your rest days, you can perform some stretches or foam roll to further facilitate recovery.