How Long Is a 5K?

How long is a 5K? You're a new runner and you keep hearing about it. Your friends have encouraged you to sign up for one, but you're not sure how long a 5K is and if you can do it.

The "K" stands for kilometer. A kilometer is 0.62 of a mile, which makes a 5K race 3.1 miles long or 16368 feet long or 5000 meters long. When you hear about races such as the Carlsbad 5000, Santa Monica 5000 or Reno 5000, you can know that it is a 5K or 3.1-mile distance event.

More: What to Do Before Your 5K

The 5000 meter is known as a popular track event, particularly in the Olympics. On a standard indoor track (200 meters), you would need to run 25 laps to run a 5K.  On a standard outdoor track (400 meters), 12.5 laps would equal a 5K. Currently, Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele holds both the world and Olympic record for the 5000 meter at 12:37:35 on an outdoor track and 12:49:60 on an indoor track.

More: 3 Ways to Train for Your 5K

In general, 5000 meters refers to track or cross-country events while a 5K refers to road racing events.

A 5K is considered the entry level distance for road racing and is the most beginner friendly choice if you're looking to break into road racing. With some training, you will be able to complete a 5K without stopping to walk.

The Couch-to-5K Running Plan is one of the most popular training plans for runners who want to get off the couch and run 3.1 miles after just a couple months.

If you're looking to run your first 5K, you can simply focus on the distance knowing that you will already be setting a PR (personal record) that day. As you build up to your second or third 5K, you can focus more on time.

More: Your 3-Step Plan to Run a 5K

So how long is a 5K? It would be like:

  • Running across a football field (91.44 meters long) 54.68 times
  • Running around all four bases of a regulation baseball diamond (360 feet to round the bases) 45.47 times
  • Running the length of an NBA-regulation basketball court (94 feet long) 174.13 times
  • Running a little less than a fourth of the length of Manhattan (13.4 miles long)

A 5K is long enough to challenge you, but not so far that you'll become discouraged. At 3.1 miles, a 5K is a very doable running distance.

Note: Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

More: Race-Day Tips for Your First 5K

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