If you’re wondering “what’s a good marathon time”, the answer is too broad to cover with a single interval. What’s considered a good marathon time for a beginner male runner isn’t the same as that for an advanced woman runner.
In addition to experience and sex, the factors affecting a runner’s marathon time also include age. As such, we can only talk in terms of average time to be fair to all runners across all skill levels, sexes, and ages.
What is a Good Marathon Time on Average?
A lot of runners who participate in marathons regard a good finishing time as the global average or less.
The global average marathon time is approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes. This is across both sexes, all ages, and all experience levels.
The average marathon finishing time for men across all ages is around 3 hours and 36 minutes. On the other hand, the average marathon finishing time for women across all ages is around 4 hours and 10 minutes.
If your finishing time is better than these scores, this means your marathon time is above average. If your finish time is around close to these scores, you should be happy with your performance.
What is the Best Marathon Time?
The best marathon time is, of course, the world record. For men, the marathon time world record is 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds (2:01:39). For women, it’s 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 4 seconds (2:14:04).
The average marathon finishing time for elite men runners is approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes, while the average marathon finishing time for elite women runners is around 2 hours and 22 minutes.
The question is, should you aim for such an average marathon finish time? Well, you can surely try, but these scores will simply be out of your league unless you’re quite a serious runner.
Out of all runners, only the top 5% finish marathons in less than 3 hours. This means that for non-professional runners, anything under 3 hours is a really good marathon time.
What is a Good Marathon Time for Males?
The following table is a guide for the average marathon time for males depending on age group and level of experience. You can refer to your specific group to get an estimate of your expected time and what score you need to up your running game:
What is a Good Marathon Time for Females?
The following table is a guide for the average marathon time for females depending on age group and level of experience. You can refer to your specific group to get an estimate of your expected time and what score you need to up your running game:
What do the Running Experience Levels Mean?
- Beginner — this experience level includes runners that have started running and have run at least for a month. Beginners make a better time than 5% of runners.
- Novice — this experience level includes runners that have regularly run at least for 6 months. Novices make a better time than 20% of runners.
- Intermediate — this experience level includes runners that have regularly run at least for 2 years. Intermediates cover the marathon distance in a better time than 50% of runners.
- Advanced — this experience level includes runners that have regularly run for more than 5 years. The advanced runners reach the finish line faster than 80% of runners.
- Elite — this experience level includes runners that have dedicated more than 5 years to competitive running. Elites reach the finish line faster than 95% of runners.
What is a Good Marathon Pace?
The pace in the running world is how much time it takes to cover a certain distance, measured in minutes per mile. Setting a proper race pace for yourself is important to help you maintain a uniform speed for the whole 26.2 miles of a marathon.
You should establish an appropriate goal pace after you’ve decided on your goal time. Like a marathon time, a “good” pace depends on the marathon runner’s level of experience, sex, and age.
The following guide is for the average pace (minutes/mile) for male runners, categorized by age and experience:
The following guide is for the average pace (minutes/mile) for female runners, categorized by age and experience:
How to Improve Your Marathon Time
If you’re looking to boost your marathon time on the race day, consider the following tips in your marathon training:
- Include a variety of exercises in your marathon training plan such as cycling, water aerobics, and power walking.
- Increase your muscles’ strength through weightlifting, body weight, and resistance training.
- Enhance your flexibility by doing gentle stretches or yoga.
- Schedule one relatively long run each week to build endurance.
So what is a good marathon time? We established that a good finish time for a marathon varies from one marathon runner to another according to their sex, age, and fitness level. But generally, a good marathon time corresponds to the global average time, which is approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes.