If you’re new to running, it’s much easier to run by time rather than distance. This allows you to walk when you feel tired but still get consistent exercise time every day.
30 minutes is a good starting point. But how many miles can you run in 30 minutes? We’ll give you an average in this article, but ultimately, the answer will differ from person to person, depending on multiple factors.
Let’s look at how many miles you can expect to run in 30 minutes when you first start running and some ways to improve.
Why Is 30 Minutes a Good Starting Time?
When you start running, it’s tempting to set off for an hour and see how far you can get! But you might not realize how much of a toll running takes on your body. You need time to adjust to the exercise and for your body to strengthen.
30 minutes is long enough to give you good exercise but short enough that you won’t find yourself stranded far from home with no way to get back other than your jelly legs!
It’s enough time to do some walk/run intervals and still get a good muscular and cardiovascular workout. Once you work your way up to running for the full 30 minutes, it’s an excellent foundation to start building endurance for longer races.
You can also burn between 250 and 500 calories running for 30 minutes—depending on your weight and the intensity of your run—which is excellent news for those who want to lose weight if paired with a calorie-controlled diet.
How Many Miles Can You Run In 30 Minutes?
There’s no definitive answer to this question because it depends on a few factors; most notably, your fitness level and pace.
Think of it this way—Eliud Kipchoge could most likely speed through more miles in 30 minutes than most of us could in hours! That comes down to his fitness level, experience, and that amazing pace.
According to data from Strava, the average pace is 9 minutes and 53 seconds per mile. That equals 3.03 miles in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that while that’s an average, you may fall below or above that, depending on your fitness level and pace.
Your Fitness Level
As a new runner still building up your fitness level, you’re not going to be able to run as many miles as someone who’s much fitter and more experienced. When you first start running, your muscles and cardiovascular system aren’t used to that level of activity.
When you increase your regular activity levels, your muscles may need to be stronger to propel you through many miles in 30 minutes. After just a few minutes of running, you may need to slow down to a walk as your muscles are aching.
The same is true for your heart and lungs. Your heart will be beating faster to supply blood to the lungs and the muscles, and your lungs will work harder to get oxygen in to fuel your activity. You may only be able to run for a few hundred yards without needing to stop and catch your breath.
The biggest indicator of how many miles you can run in 30 minutes is your pace—typically considered to be the time it takes you to run a mile or your minutes per mile.
In the beginning, it may take you between 12 and 15 minutes to complete one mile, alternating between walking and running, which means around 2 to 2 ½ miles in 30 minutes.
Your pace will improve as your fitness level increases. Once you reach a pace of 8 minutes per mile—achievable if you’ve been running 3 to 4 times a week for about 3 months—you’ll be able to run almost 4 miles in 30 minutes.
How Often Per Week Should You Run for 30 Minutes?
To see improvement quickly, you should run 3 to 4 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. After a few months, you should notice that you’re walking less, running more, and running a further distance every time.
You should be getting at least one full day of rest per week. On your other running “off-days”, you can do some cross-training to help strengthen your legs and boost your performance.
Tips to Improve Your Running Performance
If you’re new to running and you train with determination, you should see great results in a short period of time. But if you want to keep improving past this “beginner’s luck”, you can take a few steps to increase your performance noticeably.
Keep in mind that there is no gold standard for improvement! As long as you train at your own pace and stay consistent, you can expect to see and feel an improvement.
Follow a Training Plan
There’s a reason even elite runners follow training plans! Having a plan that helps you progress in a linear fashion is the best way to improve. Training by feel or “seeing how you feel on the day” might seem unthreatening, but it’s not likely to help you progress quickly.
It’s a good idea to find a training plan aimed at beginners and one that you can easily fit into your everyday life. We offer a fun couch to 5k free training plan. Sign up below and we’ll deliver it to your inbox.
Also, keep in mind that many training plans will include changing your diet to optimize your performance.
Sign up to download this FREE TRAINING PLAN PDF
Change Your Nutrition
If the training plan you follow does not include optimizing your nutrition, we advise examining your own diet and making some changes.
Your diet is the fuel that prepares your body for exercise and sees you through the activity, so it’s essential that you get it right if you really want to run faster and better.
You should be eating a balanced diet consisting of whole foods. Avoid processed food as far as you can, and reducing your sugar intake will serve you well.
Healthy carbs like whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and fruits and vegetables will give your body energy. Lean meats and eggs will give you the protein you need to build your running muscles!
Mix Up Your Runs
This not only helps you to build up endurance and stamina, but it also helps to reduce boredom. We advise incorporating easy runs, tempo runs, and interval runs, even if you do all of them at 30 minutes.
You don’t need to be training for a serious race to incorporate different types of runs into your training schedule. It’s a good idea to start doing different types of runs, which will help you build the necessary endurance and improve far more quickly.
Rather than doing whatever kind of run you feel like on the day, it may be a good idea to follow a training plan that incorporates all of these runs automatically into your routine.
Train On Flat Ground
Training on rough or hilly ground will make progress harder. While you will most likely build more strength in your leg muscles, you may be at risk of overtraining as this kind of running places more strain on your muscles and cardiovascular system.
Try to run your 30 minutes on a flat route if you can. This will be the easiest for your body to adapt to. If the terrain near you is rough or uneven, your best choice may be to find the closest track and run there.
Run More 5K Races
Although you may be running 2 to 3 miles in 30 minutes, running 5K races is an excellent way to improve. They are usually easy to find and enter, plus they’ll give you a real-world experience that’s a little more challenging than running by yourself on your usual training route.
Of course, these races will take longer than 30 minutes. But one longer race per week will also help you build the strength and endurance to improve your 30-minute runs.
Don’t Forget to Rest
To perform at your best consistently, you must also incorporate rest into your training program. We recommend at least one full day of rest per week. This means no activity other than your everyday activities.
On the other one or two days—depending on whether you’re running 3 or 4 times a week—you can incorporate cross-training. This will keep you burning calories and help strengthen your muscles while giving you a rest from running.
You can choose any form of cross-training you like, but some excellent choices are rowing, the elliptical, jumping rope, or strength training.
Get Enough Sleep
You should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night for the best performance. When you’re short on sleep, your body doesn’t recover enough to give your full effort during your run the following day.
Research also suggests that it’s harder to stick to a healthy diet on days after a bad night’s rest! Go to bed at an appropriate time, and make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. You may be surprised at how much of a difference this makes to your running performance!