By nature, humans tend to be competitive, especially those who are inclined to athletic pursuits. We want to be able to run the fastest, jump the highest or furthest, lift the most weight, or have the best endurance.
Running speed is one of the main ways we like to compete and compare how we stack up to others, whether our friends, the average person or the elite runner.
However, while it’s easy to challenge your buddies to an all-out race to the end of the block or around the track, we don’t have a way to compare ourselves to the average person as readily.
So, what exactly is the average human sprint speed across the board?
In this article, we will discuss the average speed of a sprinting human and the factors that affect the average human sprint speed.
We will cover:
- What Is the Fastest Human Sprint Speed?
- What Is the Average Human Sprint Speed?
- Factors That Affect Your Sprinting Speed
Let’s jump in!
What Is the Fastest Human Sprint Speed?
Before we try to parcel out the average human sprint speed, let’s give our jaws a workout as they drop in awe of the fastest human sprint speed.
To determine the fastest human sprint speeds, we need to look to the running world record holders.
The fastest human sprinter thus far has been Usain Bolt, a Jamaican sprinter who holds the 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds, which he set in 2009.
This works out to an average of 23.35 mph (37.58 km/h).
While this is impressive, Usain Bolt clocked a whopping 27.78 mph (44.72 km/h) between meter 60 and meter 80 of the 100 meters sprint at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics.
To date, this has been the limit for what we’ve seen for the fastest human sprint speed.
The women’s world record for the 100-meter dash is held by Florence Griffith-Joyner, an American runner who posted a blazing time of 10.49 seconds in 1988.
Therefore, the fastest human sprint speed for a woman works out to an average of 21.3 mph.
What Is the Average Human Sprint Speed?
It’s a lot more challenging to pin down the average human sprint speed—there are no record books for the average Joe or Jane runner that we can readily turn to.
With that said, Engineer Calcs did an interesting analysis in 2019 to determine how fast the average human can run and the average speed of a sprinting human.
The data analysis examined the top sprinting speed, looking to answer, “How fast can the fastest runners run?” or “How fast can the fastest runners sprint?”
Although this isn’t exactly the same thing as “How fast can the average human sprint?”, it can get us closer to the answer than looking at the sprinting world record holders.
Needless to say, the analysis broke down the population into 14 groups based on factors like age, skill level, and sex.
They compiled data from sites like Athletic.net and Wikipedia.com and race results from the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga and calculated the average finish time from the top 10 100-meter performances for each group.
We replicated a similar process to update the data for 2022, although the data for Masters athletes had very few updates because the World Masters Athletes Championships was virtual in 2020 and postponed in 2021.
The World Masters Championships occurred recently, in August 2022, so our results take those new records into account.
The average times for Groups 1 – 4 were from the top five 100-meter performances. The results are as follows:
|Group||2019 Average||2022 Average|
|Group #1: High school male sprinters||2019 Average 100-meter time: 10.23 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.21 seconds|
|Group #2: High school female sprinters||2019 Average 100-meter time: 11.28 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 11.396 seconds|
|Group #3: College male sprinters||2019 Average 100-meter time: 9.99 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 9.968 seconds|
|Group #4: College female sprinters||2019 100-meter time: 11.02 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.94 seconds|
|Group #5: Olympic male sprinters||2019 100-meter time: 9.76 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 9.688 seconds|
|Group #6: Olympic female sprinters||2019 100-meter time: 10.70 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.607 seconds|
|Group #7: 40 to 49 male sprinters||100-meter time: 11.26 seconds|
|Group #8: 40 to 49 female sprinters||100-meter time: 12.77 seconds|
|Group #9: 50 to 59 male sprinters||100-meter time: 11.88 seconds|
|Group #10: 50 to 59 female sprinters||100-meter time: 13.44 seconds|
|Group #11: 60 to 69 male sprinters||100-meter time: 12.76 seconds|
|Group #12: 60 to 69 female sprinters||100-meter time: 14.70 seconds||2022 Average 100-meter time: 13.90 seconds|
|Group #13: 70 to 79 male sprinters||100-meter time: 14.34|
|Group #14: 70 to 79 female sprinters||100-meter time: 17.61 seconds|
From this data, we can calculate the average human athlete sprinting speed across both sexes to be 18.23 mph (3:17.5 minutes per mile), or 29.33 kilometers per hour.
- Average male sprinting speed: 19.52 mph (3:04.4 minutes per mile), or 31.4 kilometers per hour.
- Average female sprinting speed: 17.12 mph (3:30 minutes per mile), or 27.55 kilometers per hour.
Almost all of us will be slower sprinters than the times listed above because rather than being average human sprint speeds, these are the sprint speeds for the fastest echelon of sprinters in each age group.
Therefore, it’s important not to get too discouraged if you’re significantly slower.
Most non-elite adult runners can sprint 100m somewhere between 12-20 seconds.
The following table shows different sprint speeds in miles per hour based on different common 100 meter run times:
|100m time||Average Sprinting Speed (km/h)||Average Sprinting Speed (mph)|
If we take a number in the middle for typical 100m sprint times—say 15 seconds—we can make a generalization that the average human sprinting speed is roughly 24 km/hr or 14.2 mph.
Factors That Affect Your Sprinting Speed
Your sprinting speed depends on quite a number of factors, some of which are static or relatively constant, whereas others are quite variable from day to day.
Static factors that affect your sprinting speed have a greater influence on the differences in top sprinting speed between two different runners rather than with the same runner from one day to the next.
A good example of a static factor that affects the average human sprint speed is your biological sex.
Males are typically faster sprinters than females because they have a higher percentage of lean body mass and a lower body fat percentage compared to females.
Other static factors affecting average sprinting speed for any given individual are more readily changeable than sex but will not change dramatically from day to day.
Examples include age and body composition.
Average human sprint speed declines with age, as we lose muscle mass (sarcopenia) and strength, aerobic capacity, and endurance as we get older.
There are also factors that affect your sprinting speed that can vary from day to day or at least change more readily.
An example of a varying factor is how well you slept. If you are overtired and did not get adequate sleep, your performance may suffer, and your sprint time will be poor.
Here are some of the factors that have the greatest bearing on your sprinting speed:
Relatively Static Factors That Affect Sprinting Speed:
- Experience level
- Hormonal level
- Body weight
- Body composition
Variable Factors That Affect Running Speed:
- Fitness level (training level)
- The terrain where you are sprinting (trail, road, grass, treadmill, concrete, track, sand, snow, etc.)
- Your hydration status
- Your nutritional status (when you last ate, how much you ate, what you ate, etc.)
- Motivation level
- The workouts you did in the 1-2 days before you sprint
As can be seen, there are quite a number of factors that can influence how fast you can sprint and that can differentiate the average human sprint speed of any two runners.
No matter where you fall along the continuum of these various factors and your current speed relative to the average human sprint speed, it’s possible to train your body to sprint faster. Check out some tips for how to sprint faster here.