Embarking on a running journey opens up a world of questions for runners, especially when it comes to pacing. How fast should you jog? What is considered a good average jogging pace, and how can you improve it?
Of course, there are many variables at play here; factors such as age, sex, and effort level will all impact your pace.
Typically, jogging speed is categorized between 4 to 6 mph (6.44 to 9.66 km/h), with the midpoint at approximately 5 mph (8 km/h) serving as a common benchmark for average pace.
In this article, we’ll look to provide seven actionable tips to enhance your jogging speed, whether you’re a beginner looking to find your stride or an experienced runner seeking to optimize your performance.
What Is The Average Jogging Speed?
According to some sources1Long, L. L., & Srinivasan, M. (2013). Walking, running, and resting under time, distance, and average speed constraints: optimality of walk–run–rest mixtures. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 10(81), 20120980. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2012.0980, jogging speed refers to traveling anywhere from 4 to 6 mph, whereas once you hit a speed of 6 mph, which corresponds to a jogging speed of 6.44 to 9.66 kilometers per hour.
Using the definition of the normal jogging speed to be 4 to 6 mph or 6.44 to 9.66 km/h, we could say that the average jogging speed is 5 mph or about 8 km per hour.
Speed refers to miles per hour or kilometers per hour, whereas “pace“ refers to how long it takes you to run a mile or a kilometer at that particular speed.
Therefore, if we take the average jogging speed to be 5 mph and 8 km/h, we can say that the average jog pace is 12 minutes per mile or 7:30 per kilometer.
Once we open the definition of “jogging” up to be any form of running, there is more data available.
What is the typical jogging speed for a beginner?
According to Strava, the average running pace for a logged run is 9:53 per mile. This works out to an average jogging speed of just over 6 miles per hour.
Other Strava reports suggest that the average running pace for a man is 9:03 per mile and 10:21 per mile for a woman.
What Is The Difference Between Jogging Pace Vs Running Pace?
Some people seem to call their workouts “jogging, “ whereas others who seem to have the same jog pace consider their workouts “running.“
So, what is the difference between jogging and running?
There isn’t an official difference in the definition between jogging and running that is universally accepted by everyone in the running community.
In general, the average jogging speed is slower than the average running speed, meaning that when you are switching from a walking gait to a jogging/running gait, the slowest speeds that you can run vs walk would be considered “jogging,“ whereas faster paces are seen as running.
Factors That Affect Your Average Jogging Pace
Here are some of the factors that affect the average speed of jogging for any given individual:
In general, older individuals have a slower average jogging pace relative to younger adults2Rittweger, J., di Prampero, P. E., Maffulli, N., & Narici, M. V. (2008). Sprint and endurance power and ageing: an analysis of master athletic world records. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1657), 683–689. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2008.1319. As we age, we lose muscle mass in a process known as age-related sarcopenia.
Muscle mass decreases about 3–8% per decade after the age of 303Volpi, E., Nazemi, R., & Fujita, S. (2004). Muscle tissue changes with aging. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 7(4), 405–410. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.mco.0000134362.76653.b2. Although of course, this is an average measurement, there are plenty of 60 year olds with more muscle mass than 30 year olds.
Additionally, older adults see a decline in aerobic capacity, known as VO2 max, as well as cardiovascular endurance.
Taken together, these changes tend to cause seniors to have a slower average jogging speed relative to younger adults.
Biological males (males assigned at birth) usually have a faster average jogging speed compared to biological females due to a higher lean body mass and lower body fat percentage.
Males also tend to be taller and leaner overall and may have a slightly larger heart size relative to their body size. There are also hormonal differences between biological males and females that support better muscle growth and recovery, muscular strength, and power for males vs females.
These sex-related differences tend to correspond to a slower jogging speed for females vs males.
#3: Effort Level
In addition to the fact that the slower average speed of jogging vs running seems to be one of the criteria that primarily distinguishes running vs jogging, you can also use effort level.
Generally speaking, jogging is a lower-intensity exercise or an easier effort level than running.
For example, if you rate your effort level or rate of perceived exertion scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being incredibly easy and 10 being a full-out max effort, walking might be somewhere around a 3 to 4, jogging would be an effort level of 4 to 6, and running would be anything you would score as six or more out of 10.
It will also be relative to the distance that you’re running too, an effort level of 6 over a long distance will likely result in a slower pace than an effort level of 6 over 100 m.
This type of subjective rating of jogging versus running is helpful.
Particularly for beginners and slower runners who may find that even if they fall within the average jog speed of 4 to 6 mph, they are really at a high intensity or high effort level, corresponding to a 7 to 9 out of 10.
In this way, though they may be moving at what is considered an average jog pace, for their own fitness level and body size.
The workout feels more like a run, and they would need to slow down significantly, somewhere in the 3.5 mph jog speed range for it to feel easy enough to be considered a jog vs. run.
If you are a fit individual who normally runs quite a bit faster than the average speed of jogging, you may have days where you are deliberately trying to do a very slow jog at a very low-intensity level to recover or to train with a slower friend.
On these days, your average jogging speed will be notably slower than on days when you are trying to jog faster and push yourself closer to that “running vs jogging speed” threshold.
When you are jogging on trails or jogging up an incline or steep hill, your average jogging speed will likely be slower than when running on flat, level ground such as a treadmill, track, or flat road.
Incline jogging requires more effort to overcome the added resistance of ascending an incline against gravity. Similarly, trails or uneven terrain will reduce your average jogging pace because you will have to be mindful of obstacles and navigate around said obstacles.
Am I Jogging Too Slowly?
Runners who are just getting into the sport are often really concerned about whether they are jogging too slow or jogging way slower than the average running speed for their age and sex.
The important thing to keep in mind, no matter where you are in your running journey, is that your own running journey is unique to you. Some runners are faster than others.
The amount of time it takes you to finish a race depends on many variables, some out of your control.
Some days, we jog faster than other days. Most runners can work to become faster with consistency and the right amount of training.
The good news is that whether you jog slower than the average speed of jogging or the average running speed for your age and sex, you will still glean the physical and mental health benefits of running.
You don’t have to run “fast” to consider yourself a runner vs jogger. Running at a comfortable pace, such as a 10-minute mile pace, will still offer profound weight loss benefits.
In fact, according to Dr. George Sheehan, a famous running coach and running book author from the 1970s, “The difference between a runner and a jogger is a signature on a race application.”
In practical terms, historically, it was likely a checkbox on race application forms to indicate whether you anticipated “running and “jogging“ the race to help seed runners on the starting line according to anticipated finish time.
This is much in the way that someone walking a 5K race would be positioned to the back of the pack at the start line behind runners.
In other words, you are in charge of ascribing your own designation and self-identity as a jogger vs runner, not the pace at which you are running or jogging.
Even if your average jogging speed is slower than most walkers, if it feels like running to you, or you prefer to use the term running, you are just as entitled to call yourself a runner at your slow jogging pace as an elite runner breaking the finish line tape at a major marathon.
Tips To Improve Your Average Jogging Speed
That said, how fast should I be jogging to improve my fitness? You don’t need to be running faster each run to improve your fitness. Instead incorporate a variety of training protocols.
Tips To Improve Speed:
- Incorporate speed work such as intervals, hills, tempo runs, and fartlek runs to increase leg speed and improve your cardiovascular and neuromuscular capacity to run faster.
- Work on your form to improve your running efficiency and economy4Hoogkamer, W., Kram, R., & Arellano, C. J. (2017). How Biomechanical Improvements in Running Economy Could Break the 2-hour Marathon Barrier. Sports Medicine, 47(9), 1739–1750. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0708-0.
- Train consistently, aiming to run at least 3 to 4 days a week to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance.
- Strength training 2 to 3 times weekly to build muscle and improve running economy5Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Strategies to Improve Running Economy. Sports Medicine, 45(1), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0246-y, power and force production.
- Work with a running coach or follow a training plan to give you structure and guidance for your jogging workouts.
- Log your jogging workouts using a fitness app or GPS running watch so that you can keep track of your progress over time and adjust your training accordingly.
- Dial in your nutrition, hydration, and sleep to support your recovery and fuel your workouts for optimal performance.
Remember, progress in jogging or running comes from consistency, proper training, and listening to your body.
The inclusion of interval training, strength training, and maintaining a consistent training plan is pivotal in progressing from a slower to a faster pace, catering to various age groups and fitness levels.
Moreover, understanding the impact of factors like heart rate and muscle mass and the benefits of a comprehensive warm-up and cool-down cannot be overstated for helping with distance runs.
If you are interested in improving your mile time, but struggle to know what is the best path for you, consider working with a running coach or personal trainer.
Remember, improving your jogging speed is a personal journey that’s as much about the physical gains as it is about the satisfaction and fulfillment from each run.
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