Friday, June 02, 2006

Average time

Quite a few people arrive at this site trying to find out the "average beginner's time" for running a mile or a kilometer, or whatever. Well, I don't really think this is something you want to worry about too much when you're beginning running. Your pace will depend on a lot of different factors - your age, general fitness and weight are three that spring to mind - but in any case you should be concentrating on running at a pace that's appropriate for you, not on trying to outperform some mythical average beginner.

For what it's worth, when I started running last year my pace was initially around a 13 minute mile, and over the first six weeks or so fell quite rapidly to a little over 10 minutes. After that it fell very gradually for the next three months, to a little under 10 minutes. This year, a week and a half after I started running again, I'm currently at about a 12 minute mile pace. For context, I'm 40 years old, a little overweight (my BMI is 26.8), and I do a fair amount of cycling. Now, in absolute terms this isn't very fast at all - a brisk walk will cover a mile in around 17 minutes; a runner finishing a 10k race in 45 minutes is running at around 7 minutes per mile.

But when you first start running, the main thing to concentrate on is improving your running fitness, and the limiting factor is getting your legs and feet strong enough to cope with the stresses and strains. Key points:
  • Don't run so fast that you can't talk comfortably
  • Start with run/walk intervals, and gradually increase the running time
  • Don't increase your mileage by more than 10% a week
Don't get hung up on how fast you're going - it can be interesting to keep a record and see how your pace improves, but that should be a side-effect, not a goal in itself. Your first goal as a beginning runner is to get fit for running.


Blogger Downhillnut said...

I'm all over this. Great advice. Basically, I run whatever speed I can and the clock just ticks away no matter what I do. I don't get upset over the numbers on my wrist.

02 June, 2006 14:54  
Blogger jeanne said...

Brilliant! just what i needed to read tonight. I'm always searching thru blogs, trying to find out how much faster (or slower) someone runs than me (it's true, I admit it!) You said perfectly! Thanks, I'll remember this tomorrow morning.

03 June, 2006 02:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the advice. i've read pretty much similar stuff in online running magazines but to hear it from a fellow beginner, albeit a 2nd time around beginner, is quite refreshing and the fact that you mentioned your time per mile is great also, as it allows me a comparison. for the record, i'm a 34 year old male with a bmi of 26.6. i've been using an exercise bike quite intensely for 4 weeks (was a couch potato for 4 years prior to this unfortunately) and have just started running 2 days ago. because of the cycling i did, the first day i ran 5 miles continuous at 12 minutes per mile and today i did the same 5 miles at 11 minutes per mile. it's nice to know that others in a similar age/physical situation to me run at a similar pace. i'm sure if it wasn't for the physical conditioning i received with the cycling, i'd struggle to get through a full mile without having to stop and walk for a bit. in fact this is what happened to an unconditioned me 4 years ago the last time i decided to run. i only lasted a few weeks and that's because i tried too hard before my body was ready and just burnt myself out.... an ultimate demotivator. fortunately, i now have the internet which means great advice for beginners at my fingertips.

thanks for sharing your experience with us and i'd advise everyone who's starting off to follow the advice given in the initial post..... you really need to give your body time to get used to the physical rigours of running. if that means cycles of walking for 3 minutes and running for 1, then do it. the moment you start feeling uncomfortable, you need to slow down. if you're jogging, start walking briskly instead and only start jogging again once the discomfort eases away. half of the run is in the body and the other half is in your head. by controlling the discomfort by slowing down, you'll limit the chances of injury and just as importantly, if not more so, you'll subconsciouly be encouraging yourself to stick with running, rather than overdoing it, getting burnt out and ultimately stopping running altogether before your body has had a chance to adjust fully to your new endeavours.... trust me, i've been there.

good luck to all fellow beginners. keep going, take it easy and don't give up.


08 October, 2006 04:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have guessed that I wasn't overdoing it, having logged about 8 months of steady running about 8k per day and almost every day. I noticed that when I cut back a little nearing wintertime, I am much faster naturally and much more winded because my legs are better rested and hearty. I've discovered that I'm getting a much better pulmonary workout by resting and healing. Also for me (46 years old and I refuse to diet, but not too much extra weight) I find that stretching is what sustains my enthusiasm. I've learned a lot about feeling young, and it isn't the running so much as stretching.. ok both. I'm spending as much time trying to improve on stretching techniques and patience with them as running, and I can reliably stretch every day; whereas running results require downtime for me.

19 December, 2006 03:37  
Blogger About Rapido Media said...

I just look for someone ten years or so older than me and then try to stick with them for a lap!

And to think I once ran a mile on rough surface in under three minutes..

Sound advice -I'm working on getting through my basic run circuit without pain/massive fatigue, when I achieve this I'll work on distance and time.

17 March, 2009 12:24  
Blogger clark said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


01 April, 2009 07:21  

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