How Long Does It Take to Run 3 Miles?

Three miles is often considered a good distance to start working towards if you are new to running. And if you are already hitting 3-mile runs or planning on entering a 5k running event, it’s normal to wonder how long it should take and what is considered a good 3-mile running time.

How Long Does It Take to Run 3 Miles?

This guide will provide the answers you are looking for!

No matter your age or ability level, three miles is an achievable distance to work towards, as well as a good distance to run consistently once or multiple times a week.

It can help to increase overall fitness, burn calories, and improve heart and lung health.

Below, this guide explains the benefits of running 3 miles, how long it takes to run 3 miles, and what is a good 3-mile running time, along with how to improve running time.

Are 3 Miles And 5k The Same?

First of all, are 3 miles and 5k the same? 

3 miles measure 4.8 kilometers, so the two distances are not quite the same, but can often be used interchangeably. 

5 km runs total at 3.1 miles, which means that 5k is slightly longer than a 3-mile run. The 0.3-kilometer distance is not much, so most people that can run 3 miles will also be able to run 5 kilometers.

Both 3 miles and 5 kilometers are popular running distances that are part of competitive and charity running events all around the world. They are also both great targets to work towards for beginner runners who are just starting.

The Benefits Of Running 3 Miles

How Long Does It Take to Run 3 Miles?

Are there any benefits to running 3 miles? 

Of course! 3 miles is a good distance to run for beginner to intermediate runners, which can help to improve general fitness, lose weight, and increase cardiovascular endurance.

By running 3 miles consistently, it can also help to build the endurance and stamina required for longer distances such as 10k runs, half marathons (21 km), and marathons (42 km). 

In a quick summary, the benefits of running, in general, include:

  • improved cardiovascular endurance and overall fitness
  • calorie burning and weight loss
  • strengthening of joints, including ligaments and tendons
  • improved lung and heart health
  • improved cognitive functions, such as greater focus and concentration
  • improved general mental health (dopamine and serotonin releases, which can naturally reduce stress and promote feelings of motivation and satisfaction)

Overall, there are no real downsides to running, unless running is done excessively to the point of overtraining or injury. By running 3 miles, you may also experience the famous “runner’s high” feeling, caused by natural chemical releases in the brain.

How Long Does It Take To Run 3 Miles?

So, how long does it take to run 3 miles?

The general answer is… as long as it takes. This might seem obvious, or deceiving, but it all depends on the pace of the runner, which can be affected by a number of factors, including age, ability, weather conditions, and the route itself.

On average, however, 3 miles will take most runners, with a good level of fitness, around 30 minutes to complete.

A 30-minute 3-mile run requires a consistent pace of 10 minutes per mile, which is widely considered a good pace for the average runner.

More seasoned runners will hit a pace of 7 or 8 minutes per mile, which would mean running 3 miles in 21 and 24 minutes, respectively.

As for elite and advanced runners, anything below 20 minutes is considered impressive, showing a high level of fitness, pace management, and speed.

How Hard Is It to Run 3 Miles?

Whether someone finds it hard to run 3 miles or not will depend on their general level of fitness and running experience.

Of course, beginners will find it hard at the beginning, but it is more than possible to work up to 3 miles and improve pace/running time with practice. 

In general, 3 miles is an achievable distance for most people of all ages and abilities with no serious health conditions or disabilities.

Running 3 miles can also be considered easy for someone who has good cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Cardiovascular endurance is different from strength and can be determined by general heart/lungs health and lifestyle.

At the same time, someone who looks fit, or has a lot of muscle, can find it hard to run 3 miles if running 3 miles is something they have not done before or do not do that often.

In any case, 3-mile runs might be considered difficult at the start, but will become easier as fitness and endurance improves through consistent running and tracking progress.

Can You Lose Weight By Running 3 Miles A Day?

How Long Does It Take to Run 3 Miles?

Running 3 miles a day can help to lose weight. However, it would have to involve the runner being in a caloric deficit.

Running burns calories and being in a caloric deficit is the key to losing weight/burning fat. How many calories are burned while running 3 miles will also depend on the pace and the weight of the individual running (individuals with a higher body weight will have to work harder, burning more calories).

But since being in a caloric deficit is the main requirement for losing weight, it is possible to lose weight without running, or doing any exercise, at all.

In this case, it would require dieting so that daily intake of calories is lower than one’s maintenance calories.

Is Walking 3 Miles A Day Enough To Lose Weight?

It is possible to lose weight by walking three miles a day, however it would be less effective than running 3 miles.

Losing weight is achieved by burning calories and body fat by being in a caloric deficit. While walking and running both burn calories, running elevates the heart rate quicker and for longer periods, which results in more calories burned.

Ultimately, walking 3 miles can help to lose weight as long as it is done together with a diet plan that involves a daily caloric deficit.

How Can I Improve My Running Time?

Last but not least, how can I improve my running time?

Whether you are running 3 miles, less than, or more, it is possible to improve your running time by simply running consistently, tracking your progress, and setting new targets for pace and overall finishing time.

Aside from those, there are other factors that can help to improve your running time. These include how you run, when you run, and where.

To provide examples, you can improve your running time by choosing a running route that does not involve elevations or uneven terrain, as well as running when it is not windy or excessively hot.

You can also improve your running time by stretching and eating energy-boosting food before running, taking performance-enhancing supplements, getting enough rest between training, investing in high-quality running shoes, and running with good form.


Looking for the short answer? Runners with an average level of fitness and experience will be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. This involves a steady pace of 10 minutes per mile, which is considered a good average running time in general.

Intermediate/mid-level runners will be able to run 3 miles in 20 to 25 minutes, while elite/advanced runners will be able to run 3 miles in less than 20 minutes.

In any case, running 3 miles is a great achievement that is also a stepping stone to longer distances such as 10k runs, half marathons, and full marathons. If you can run 3 miles, no matter the time it takes, consider it a worthy accomplishment!

Megan Rinzel
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