Average Marathon Running Speed [Basic Facts]

One of the metrics runners use to measure their progress is their speed.

This post will explore the average marathon running speed for both men and women and provide tips for improving your running speed.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner looking to improve your personal best or a beginner looking to complete your first marathon, this post will provide valuable insights into the world of marathon running speeds. So, let’s get started!

What is Marathon Running Speed?

Marathon running speed refers to the average pace at which a runner completes a marathon, which is a long-distance race that covers a distance of 42.195 kilometers or 26.219 miles.

As a marathon runner, I know that marathon running speed is critical in determining a runner’s performance.

The average marathon running speed varies depending on several factors, including the runner’s training, endurance, and speed.

Typically, elite marathon runners can complete a marathon in under two hours and thirty minutes, while recreational runners take four to six hours to finish the race.

To determine a marathon running speed, the runner can use their average pace per mile or kilometer during training.

For example, if a runner’s average pace per mile during training is 8 minutes, they can expect to complete a marathon in approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Training is a crucial factor in determining a runner’s marathon running speed. To improve their marathon running speed, runners can incorporate speed work, endurance training, and interval training into their training program.

Proper nutrition and hydration during training and on race day can also improve a runner’s marathon running speed.

In conclusion, marathon running speed is the average pace at which a runner completes a marathon race. Several factors, such as training, endurance, and speed influence it. Improving marathon running speed requires proper exercise, nutrition, and hydration.

Factors that Affect Average Marathon Running Speed

As a runner, many factors can affect the average marathon running speed.

Some of these factors are within our control, while others are not. This section will discuss some of the most critical factors affecting marathon running speed.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can have a significant impact on marathon running speed. Running in hot and humid conditions can make it more challenging to maintain a fast pace, while running in cool and dry conditions can make it easier.

Staying hydrated during a marathon, especially in hot and humid conditions, is essential to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.


The terrain of the marathon course can also affect running speed.

Running on flat terrain is generally easier than hilly terrain, which can be more challenging. Therefore, training on a landscape similar to the marathon course is essential to prepare for the race.

Experience and Training

Experience and training are also essential factors that can affect marathon running speed.

Experienced runners who have completed several marathons tend to have faster finishing times than first-time marathoners.

Training consistently and following a structured training plan can also improve marathon running speed.

Age and Sex

Age and sex can also affect marathon running speed.

Generally, younger male runners tend to have faster finishing times than older and female runners. However, this rule has many exceptions, and individual performance can vary greatly.

Stamina and Endurance

Finally, stamina and endurance are crucial factors affecting marathon running speed.

Building up stamina and endurance through consistent training and gradually increasing mileage can help runners maintain a fast pace throughout the marathon.

In summary, many factors can affect average marathon running speed, including weather conditions, terrain, experience and training, age and sex, and stamina and endurance.

By understanding and addressing these factors, runners can improve their marathon performance and achieve their goals.

Average Marathon Running Speeds by Ability Level

As a runner and a coach, I have seen firsthand that marathon running speeds can vary greatly depending on the runner’s ability level. In this section, I will break down the average marathon running speeds by ability level: Beginner, Intermediate, and Elite.

Beginner Level

For beginner marathon runners, the average pace is usually around 11-13 minutes per mile.

This pace is based on the runner’s ability to maintain a steady pace throughout the race.

As a beginner, focusing on building endurance and gradually increasing your training pace is essential. A training pace of 10-11 minutes per mile is a good starting point for most beginners.

Intermediate Level

For intermediate marathon runners, the average pace is usually around 9-10 minutes per mile. At this level, runners have built up their endurance and can maintain a steady pace for extended periods.

Trained intermediate runners can aim for a training pace of 8-9 minutes per mile to improve their marathon running speed.

Elite Level

For elite marathon runners, the average pace is usually around 5-6 minutes per mile. Elite marathoners have trained for years to reach this level of ability.

They have built up their endurance and have trained at a pace that allows them to maintain a steady pace for the entire race.

Elite runners have a training pace of 4-5 minutes per mile, which allows them to improve their marathon running speed and compete at the highest level.

In conclusion, average marathon running speeds vary greatly depending on the runner’s ability level.

Beginners can expect to run at a pace of 11-13 minutes per mile, intermediates at 9-10 minutes per mile, and elite marathoners at 5-6 minutes per mile.

It is important to train at a pace appropriate for your ability level to improve your marathon running speed and reach your goals.

How to Improve Your Average Marathon Running Speed

I have found that the following areas are crucial for achieving a faster average marathon running speed: proper training, nutrition and hydration, cross-training, and weightlifting.

Proper Training

A well-designed training program is essential for improving your marathon running speed.

When creating a training program, it’s essential to consider your current fitness level, goals, and time constraints.

Incorporating interval training, tempo runs, hill repeats, and long runs into my training program has helped me increase my speed and endurance.

Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for maintaining energy levels during a marathon and improving your average marathon running speed.

Consuming a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats is essential—additionally, staying hydrated before, during, and after a marathon prevents dehydration and maintains optimal performance.


Incorporating cross-training into your training program can help improve your overall fitness and prevent injury.

Activities such as cycling, swimming, and yoga can help improve your cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and strength.

Additionally, cross-training can help prevent overuse injuries from running too much.


Weightlifting can help improve your running performance by increasing your strength and power.

Incorporating squats, lunges, deadlifts, and calf raises into your training program can help improve your running form, increase your speed and endurance, and prevent injury.

In conclusion, improving your average marathon running speed requires a comprehensive approach that includes proper training, nutrition and hydration, cross-training, and weightlifting.

By focusing on these areas, you can achieve your goals and become a faster, more efficient runner.

Marathon Running Speed Records

This section will explore the average marathon running speed records and highlight notable achievements.

World Record Holders

The current men’s world record for the marathon is held by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who completed the 2018 Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39. (This was also my first marathon, it was a scorching day and I struggled to a 5 hour 24 minute finish time).

This incredible feat broke the previous world record set by Dennis Kimetto in 2014 by 1 minute and 18 seconds. On the women’s side, Brigid Kosgei of Kenya holds the world record, which she set in the 2019 Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:14:04.

Boston Marathon Records

The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, and many runners aspire to participate in this event.

The course is notoriously tricky, with rolling hills and unpredictable weather conditions.

The current men’s course record is held by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, who completed the 2011 Boston Marathon in 2:03:02. The women’s course record is held by Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia, who finished the 2014 Boston Marathon in 2:19:59.

Comparison with Other Race Times

Marathon running is challenging and demanding, requiring much training and preparation to achieve a fast time.

The average marathon running speed is quite impressive compared to other race times.

For example, the average pace for a 5K race is around 9 minutes per mile, while the average for a half marathon is about 10 minutes per mile. In contrast, the average pace for a marathon is approximately 11-12 minutes per mile.

In conclusion, the average marathon running speed records are a testament to elite runners’ incredible speed and endurance.

Whether it’s the world record holders, the Boston Marathon champions, or the thousands of runners participating in marathons worldwide, this sport inspires and challenges people of all ages and abilities.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the average marathon running speed varies greatly depending on the runner’s experience, age, gender, and training.

As an experienced runner, I know that running a marathon is challenging and requires a lot of dedication and training.

Based on my research and personal experience, the average marathon running speed for men is around 4:30 to 5:00 hours, while for women, it is around 5:00 to 5:30 hours. However, these numbers can vary greatly depending on the individual’s fitness level and training.

It is important to note that running a marathon is not just about speed but also about endurance and mental strength. The ability to push through pain and fatigue separates successful marathon runners from those who struggle to finish.

If you plan to run a marathon, I highly recommend investing in a good training program that includes running and strength training. It is also essential to listen to your body and avoid overtraining, which can lead to injuries.

Running a marathon is a challenging but rewarding experience that requires hard work and dedication. However, with the proper training and mindset, anyone can cross the finish line and achieve their goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

I often get asked questions about my average running speed as a marathon runner. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and my answers:

What is the average marathon running speed?

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, the average marathon running speed is 9.48 km/h (5.90 mph) for men and 8.21 km/h (5.10 mph) for women. However, it’s important to note that this varies depending on age, fitness level, and training.

How can I improve my marathon running speed?

Improving your marathon running speed requires training, nutrition, and recovery. Here are some tips to help you improve your speed:
Incorporate interval training into your workouts
Increase your weekly mileage gradually
Focus on proper form and technique
Fuel your body with a balanced diet
Allow for adequate rest and recovery time

Can I still finish a marathon if I run slower than the average speed?

Absolutely! The beauty of running a marathon is that it’s a personal challenge. It’s not about competing with others but pushing yourself to achieve your goals. As long as you can complete the race within the allotted time frame, your speed doesn’t matter.

How do I calculate my marathon running speed?

To calculate your marathon running speed, divide the total distance of the marathon (42.195 km or 26.2 miles) by the time it took you to complete it. For example, if you completed the marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes, your average speed would be approximately 9.38 km/h (5.83 mph).



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.