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August 31, 2011 7:47 PM   Subscribe

What should my speed goal be to walk a 5k?

Finally feeling better after a long illness, I started working out seven weeks ago. I have been pleased to find that I was not as completely out-of-shape as I thought, and I am now comfortably walking just under 3 miles three mornings a week, on a treadmill. The pace and resistance vary, but my top speed is about 3.1 miles per hour.

A friend who took up triathlons a couple of years ago with great success offered to walk a 5k with me, to give me a specific goal to shoot for. Since I am already able to do the distance, I need to think about setting a goal for time. I am not at all interested in running, and I have until spring to work on this. I'd like to have a more specific goal this fall and winter than just "get faster"--I'd like to have some point at which I can say, "Hey, I did it!" and bask in the feeling of accomplishment for a bit. I'd also like to not be the very last one across the finish line in this notional 5k I'll be walking next spring.

What should that goal be? What 5k time should I shoot for?

In case it matters: I'm 46, female, and generally in good health.
posted by not that girl to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sort of depends on your height, because that affects your stride length, which will affect your time.

I mean, I'm 5'10 and have no problem walking a 10 minute mile (i.e., 6 mph). Shorter people will have trouble keeping up that pace without actually running.
posted by dfriedman at 7:53 PM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: Ah, well, that's a useful thought. I'm 5' 4"
posted by not that girl at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2011

30 minutes would basically be a 9-minute mile. Hmm, that might be too fast.

What about walking one mile in a fairly focused manner, multiply that by 3.1, and decide you'd like to speed up by 15% or so?
posted by salvia at 8:04 PM on August 31, 2011

I suck at reading the question, sorry. What about taking your current time and shoot for 75% of that?
posted by salvia at 8:05 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It should be totally possible to find last year's race results for this 5k, or just race results for a 5k in general, and take a look at the overall times and your age bracket to get an idea of what the range is. Generally googling "[name of race] results" works pretty well.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2011

30 minutes sounds like a realistic goal. Consult your doctor before pushing hard to hit that goal, of course.
posted by thelonius at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2011

I mean: a realistic goal for a first race, not a final goal.
posted by thelonius at 8:07 PM on August 31, 2011

(I can't hit 30 minutes jogging, and I run 3-5 5ks a year. I don't really train for them, but that seems like a really unrealistic goal for a walked 5k to me.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:08 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

5k is 3.1 miles; 30 minutes would imply a sub 10-minute mile.
posted by dfriedman at 8:17 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Just another data point as a male, 5'9" who has run two marathons. The 4.6-4.8 range for is where speed walking becomes a chore and jogging is a bit too slow. In any case shooting for a sub 10 minute mile is likely to be folly. If I were you, I'd think about increasing my times by .1 mph every 2 to 3 weeks (assuming you are getting regular exercise). Evaluate things after 2 months to see how you are doing.
posted by mmascolino at 8:23 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

12 minute miles are pretty standard for walking goals. You want to hit about 37 minutes, maybe a little under.

Keep in mind that walking outside in terrain will be different from the treadmill. But this sounds totally fun- enjoy yourself!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:24 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: restless_nomad, I had no idea such a thing was possible, but I have now looked at the results for a couple of 5k walks and it was very helpful--women in my age group range from 38 minutes to just over an hour (or from about a 13 minute mile to about a 20 minute mile).

mmascolino, you answered one of the questions I've had, about the walk/jog line.
posted by not that girl at 8:26 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, 30 minutes is way too fast. My slow-jog time was 36 minutes. So maybe 45 would be good? And that's 75% of your current time and a bit under a 15 minute mile? Hmm. Even that's a little fast.

Okay, 17-minute miles would be 53 minutes. That's my vote. (At top speed you are walking 19-minute miles it sounds like.)
posted by salvia at 8:27 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I was in high-school, the cross country was 5km, and the cut off time was 30 minutes to make it impossible for you to walk all of it. So yeah, 30 minutes is too fast.
posted by titanium_geek at 8:45 PM on August 31, 2011

I slow-jogged a 5K in February and my time was 40 minutes. I jogged the entire thing and I'm talking slowly. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 8:45 PM on August 31, 2011

I'm 5' 4" and I find that somewhere around 4 mph is where it stops being fast walking and starts being slow jogging. My legs are kinda short though. Just try out different speeds on your treadmill and see what's the fastest you can keep up without breaking into a jog. I find there is a definite point where it's getting awkward to walk but you're at a stupidly slow jog. I may forgetting to account for my spaziness.
posted by artychoke at 9:02 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: I'm 5'5" and I walk 5k in around an hour at a brisk pace. When I did a 5k-er, I came in on that time, and there were plenty of people leisurely strolling in after me. However, all the free food was already gone.
posted by b33j at 9:30 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

To echo artychoke about treadmill speed, I'm 5' 1" and also hit the speed-walk/slow jog line around 4.1-4.3. At 4.6 I'm running.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:34 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: I just did my first 5k a month or so ago and came in around 32 minutes. I believe that only one or two walkers were faster than that and they were the crazy speedwalker types. I know I passed one of the racewalkers with less than one km to go, so some of them were slower than me. I don't think 30 minutes is a reasonable walking target because it would put you faster than most of them, much less "normal" walkers. I had a friend who walked some and jogged some who finished in 38 minutes. I'd guess 40-45 would be a reasonable normal walking pace.
posted by Lame_username at 10:49 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: I am a bit of natural speed walker (my first time on a treadmill I could do 20 minutes at 3.8mph,) but the length and variable terrain of the typical 5k means that I tend to take 50 to 55 minutes without training up first.

Remember that those race results are full of people who are "technically" walking, but doing so in a style you probably don't care to learn. 45 minutes is quite speedy for normal shortish women who aren't into the racewalking thing.

And for what it's worth, starting around 55 minutes you'll be beating the tail end of the jogging set. My first race I was in the 20th percentile for the walkers and the 10th percentile overall, which I found quite amusing.
posted by SMPA at 2:25 AM on September 1, 2011

45 minutes is quite speedy for normal shortish women who aren't into the racewalking thing.

Yes. I'm 5'5" and a runner, and I find it pretty taxing to maintain a 15-minute walking mile.
posted by something something at 6:49 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all, this is very helpful. I didn't even know about the free food--perhaps my goal for my second 5k will be "finish in time to get free food."
posted by not that girl at 6:57 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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