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What’s The Average Human Sprint Speed? A Statistical Analysis

In this article, we will discuss the average speed of a sprinting human and the factors that affect the average human sprint speed.

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.

A sprinter in a running position.

What Is the Average Human Sprint Speed?

It’s 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.

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 timeAverage Sprinting Speed (km/h)Average Sprinting Speed (mph)
103621.30
1132.7319.37
123017.75
1327.6916.38
1425.7115.21
152414.20
1622.513.31
1721.1812.53
182011.83
1918.9511.21
201810.65
Sprinters beginning a race.

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.

Engineer Calcs also did an interesting analysis in 2019 to determine how fast the average human can run and the average speed of a sprinting human.1Toofan, K. (2019, July 24). Discover the Average Human Athlete Running Speed. Engineer Calcs. https://engineercalcs.com/average-human-running-speed/

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.

Sprinters starting a race, probably faster than the average sprinter speed.

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.2HOME. (n.d.). World Masters Athletics. https://world-masters-athletics.org/ 3Outdoor Women 2022 (4).pdf. (n.d.). Google Docs. Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qbodlgUv6b6PvRi2zsnO5R3wea6zfWDb/view

The average times for Groups 1 – 4 were from the top five 100-meter performances. The results are as follows:

Group2019 Average2022 Average
Group #1: High school male sprinters2019 Average 100-meter time: 10.23 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.21 seconds
Group #2: High school female sprinters2019 Average 100-meter time: 11.28 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 11.396 seconds
Group #3: College male sprinters2019 Average 100-meter time: 9.99 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 9.968 seconds
Group #4: College female sprinters2019 100-meter time: 11.02 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.94 seconds
Group #5: Olympic male sprinters2019 100-meter time: 9.76 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 9.688 seconds
Group #6: Olympic female sprinters2019 100-meter time: 10.70 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.607 seconds
Group #7: 40 to 49 male sprinters100-meter time: 11.26 seconds
Group #8: 40 to 49 female sprinters100-meter time: 12.77 seconds
Group #9: 50 to 59 male sprinters100-meter time: 11.88 seconds
Group #10: 50 to 59 female sprinters100-meter time: 13.44 seconds
Group #11: 60 to 69 male sprinters100-meter time: 12.76 seconds
Group #12: 60 to 69 female sprinters100-meter time: 14.70 seconds2022 Average 100-meter time: 13.90 seconds
Group #13: 70 to 79 male sprinters100-meter time: 14.34
Group #14: 70 to 79 female sprinters100-meter time: 17.61 seconds
A person lining up to sprint.

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.

Factors That Affect Your Sprinting Speed

Your sprinting speed depends on quite a number of factors, some of which are static or relatively constant, and others which 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.

A sprinter beginning a race on a track.

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 slower.

Here are some of the factors that have the greatest bearing on your sprinting speed:

Relatively Static Factors That Affect Sprinting Speed:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Experience level
  • Hormonal level
  • Body weight
  • Height
  • Body composition
A person in mid-air sprinting.

Variable Factors That Affect Running Speed:

  • Effort level
  • Fitness level (training level)
  • The terrain where you are sprinting (trail, road, grass, treadmill, concrete, track, sand, snow, etc.)
  • The slope of the running surface (flat road, steep uphill, downhill, etc.)
  • Your hydration status
  • Your nutritional status (when you last ate, how much you ate, what you ate, etc.)
  • Weather conditions (temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind)
  • Motivation level
  • Shoes and clothing you are wearing
  • 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 which 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.

A sprinter in sprinting position.

What Is 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 2009.4100 Metres – men – senior – outdoor. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. https://worldathletics.org/records/all-time-toplists/sprints/100-metres/outdoor/men/senior

This works out to a top speed 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-meter sprint at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. 

To date, this has been the limit for what we’ve seen for the world’s fastest man and 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 1988.5World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. https://worldathletics.org/records/by-category/world-records

Therefore, the fastest human sprint speed for a woman works out to an average of 21.3 mph. 

A sprinter running on a track.

What Is The Average Running Speed?

There is no exact average running speed, as speed depends on the distance being travelled.

The average running speed for long distances will be a lot slower than the average speed for short distances, which will be closer to the average sprinting speed.

For example, the average running speed for a half marathon distance is around 11.47 kph or 7.13 mph, which is much slower than the average sprinting speed done in a 100-meter race, which would be closer to the average sprinting speed of 24 kph or 14.2 mph.

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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