A 10K or 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race is a popular distance for both professional and everyday runners. In fact, the 10K is the second most favored race distance behind the half marathon, according to Running USA.
If you're new to the distance, you may be wondering what an average 10K time looks like. And if you've already got a few races under your belt, you may want to see how your personal best 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.
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10K World Record Times
Elite athletes will complete the 6.2-mile race in 30 minutes or less, meaning they are running about a 5-minute-mile pace or faster.
Historically, runners of Kenyan and 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 International Association of Athletics Federations (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.
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Average 10K Race Times
The world record 10K times are certainly impressive and 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 individual 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 Running USA.
Female road racers don't finish their 10K too far behind their male counterparts. The average female runner completes the race in about 1 hour and 4 seconds. This is an average mile time of about 10 minutes, 32 seconds.
Improving Your 10K Race Time
In order to improve your 10K race time, there are several measures you can take in your training. Contrary to popular belief, scaling back your mileage is one step that may 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, giving your heart rate a challenge. However, don't perform speed workouts more than once per week due to the intensity of the workouts and risk of injury.
Make sure to take at least one rest day per week in order to ensure your body is firing properly throughout your training. Stacking on too much exercise can lead to injury from overtraining. Allow your body to recover properly and perform some stretches or foam rolling to use your rest day to its fullest.
Remember that the type of racecourse will affect your time. More challenging courses that include many hills, such as the Bolder Boulder, an annual Memorial Day race in the hills at high altitude in Colorado, will typically yield slower times than a flat, sea-level course. 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.
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