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One of the funniest things during coronavirus has been following some people’s quarantine stories. During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, people started to think a little bit more about keeping fit and staying active. There was a trend on Instagram and other social networks regarding going for a 5K run. Some did it for charity as they donated money at the same time and nominated others to do the same. Some did it to show off as they not so discreetly put their 5k time up for everyone to see. The only awkward thing was that many people did not do their math before uploading pictures. So many people lied about their 5k times and were caught incredibly quickly because the times they posted were physically impossible. To prove it, let’s look at how fast people can actually run.

In March, 2020 Britney Spears wrote on her Twitter account that she had been out running 100 meters. She was delighted as it usually takes her about nine seconds but she had now done it in five. Nice work Britney. The only issue is that the record for 100 meters is currently held by Usain Bolt and is 9.58 seconds. Britney had nearly cut the world record in half. Britney later clarified that she was joking. If you look at some of her other tweets, that is a suspect claim but we will give her the benefit of the doubt here.

Yet many, less famous, social network users are certainly not joking. The number of 5K runners who have broken their personal bests and some world records is astounding. Some people clearly drove in their car, others paused their apps to have a break between kilometers and others just photoshopped the numbers. To anyone out there who was caught cheating or who simply wants to know more about good 5k times, read on.

The men’s world record for a 5k is 12 minutes 37 seconds. This means that Kenenisa Bekele ran each kilometer in about 2 minutes and thirty seconds. That is insane, but we know he is telling the truth. The women’s record is held by Tirunesh Dibaba and is 14 minutes and 11 seconds. Both athletes are from Ethiopia and the times registered are just astounding. If you are cheating on your 5k time, consider this the upper limit for what you can post.

The average runner comes nowhere near these 5k times though. If you are just starting out on your 5k journey then a sub 30 minute time is respectable. This means that you are going at least 1 km every 6 minutes. This a nice pace for a beginner. If you are relatively fit or have been running for a little while then a 25 minute time is your aim. This means that you are running 1 km every 5 minutes. This is the goal for the average runner and if you are posting times around the five-minute mark you are doing well. If you are very fit and dedicated to your running the usual goal is a sub 20 minute 5k. This means that you are running a km every 4 minutes. This is tough and will require training but is achievable. Everything after this is an athlete level and if you are recording times below 4 minutes per k, you are either training a lot or are a great natural runner and should give it more focus.

Running 5k has become the subtle brag of coronavirus times. While it is great to show off to your friends, we just want you to pick a time that is realistic. In truth though, this trend has got more people outside, more people donating to charity, and more people feeling positive during a tough time for mental health. Thanks Britney.