Theodore Roosevelt is famously quoted as saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” While this is true in many cases, such that our happiness and satisfaction should be based on solely our own lives and feelings rather than how we stack up to others, when it comes to running, many runners would beg to differ.
Whether you’re comparing your own times in the hopes of setting a personal best (PB) or personal record (PR) or seeing how your race times compare to others in your age group or sex, running is such a number-based sport that comparing times seems as inevitable as it is fun and motivating.
Because races are timed, there’s a vast library of data you can peruse to compare times, analyze running records, and calculate average running paces. One such fascinating metric to consider is the average running speed.
In other words, how fast can the average human run? In this guide, we will attempt to answer that very question.
Keep reading for the answer to how fast can the average human run and see how you measure up!
We will cover:
- Average Human Running Speed & Training Pace
- Average Mile Time for Runners
- Average Race Finish Times and Running Pace
- How Fast Can the Fastest Runners Run?
- How Fast Can Humans Sprint?
- Factors That Affect Your Running Speed
Let’s get started!
Average Human Running Speed & Training Pace
So, how fast does the average human run in general?
According to Strava, the average pace for a logged run is 9:53 per mile when it comes to training making the avergae humas running speed about 6 miles per hour. There are millions of Strava users, and this data comes from the average across both sexes over the entire year (2021), so it’s a good approximation of a typical training pace.
How Fast Can The Average Human Run?Average Mile Time for Runners
What about the mile precisely? How fast can the average human run a mile?
Running Level, a site that calculates running times based on age and ability, has standard times for distances starting at one mile. The average mile times based on age and an Intermediate Running level are below.
You can click here to calculate your specific running level based on your current times.
Average Mile Times for Males (Intermediate Level)
|Age||Pace Per Mile|
Average Mile Times for Females (Intermediate Level)
|Age||Pace Per Mile|
How Fast Can The Average Human Run? Average Race Finish Times and Running Pace
Run Repeat offers a finish time comparison calculator that enables you to compare your race performances to the times of your fellow runners by sex and age group. The results are based on data collected over the last 20 years from 35 million race results from more than 28,000 races.
There is also a breakdown of finish times by age group, which can be used to calculate the average mile pace in the 5k based on sex and age, which is presented below:
The site also presents finish times for the 10k, half marathon, and marathon, which can be used to estimate the average running pace for each distance.
Using the 50th percentile for each race distance, the following chart can be used as a ballpark guide for the average finish time running pace for men and women.
So, how fast can the average human run a 5k, 10k, half, and full marathon? Let’s see!
|Distance||Average Finish Time||Average Pace||Average Men’s Finish Time||Average Men’s Pace||Average Women’s Finish Time||Average Women’s Pace|
An older set of data based on 10,000 race results from 2010 reports that the average 5k finish time across both sexes is 36 minutes and 37 seconds, which corresponds to an average running pace of 11:47 per mile.
How Fast Can the Fastest Runners Run?
The fastest human so far has been Usain Bolt from Jamaica, who set the blazing-fast 100-meter world record in 2009 with a time of 9.58 seconds.
This works out to an average of 23.35 mph (37.58 km/h). However, he 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. So far, this has been the limit for what we’ve seen for maximum human foot speed.
The female world record for the 100-meter dash is held by American Florence Griffith-Joyner, who ran the distance in an impressive 10.49 seconds in 1988. This works out to an average of 21.3 mph.
How Fast Can Humans Sprint?
Engineer Calcs did an interesting analysis in 2019 to answer the question how fast can the average human run?
The brains behind the data analysis looked at top sprinting speed rather than jogging speed. In other words, the data seems to answer, “How fast can the fastest runners run?” or “How fast can the fastest runners sprint?” not “How fast can the average human run?”
Needless to say, they broke down the population into 14 groups based on factors like age, skill level, and sex.
Using data from sites like Athletic.net and Wikipedia.com and race results from the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, they found the average finish time from the top 10 100-meter performances for each group.
We used a similar process to update the data for 2022. However, all of the data for Masters athletes weren’t updated because the World Masters Athletes Championships were virtual in 2020 and postponed in 2021 until later this year (2022).
The average times for Groups 1 – 4 were from the top five 100-meter performances. The results are as follows:
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 Average 100-meter time: 11.02 seconds
2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.94 seconds
Group #5: Olympic Male Sprinters
2019 Average 100-meter time: 9.76 seconds
2022 Average 100-meter time: 9.688 seconds
Group #6: Olympic Female Sprinters
2019 Average 100-meter time: 10.70 seconds
2022 Average 100-meter time: 10.607 seconds
Group #7: 40 to 49 Male Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 11.26 seconds
Group #8: 40 to 49 Female Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 12.77 seconds
Group #9: 50 to 59 Male Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 11.88 seconds
Group #10: 50 to 59 Female Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 13.44 seconds
Group #11: 60 to 69 Male Sprinters
1Average 100-meter time: 12.76 seconds
Group #12: 60 to 69 Female Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 14.70 seconds
Group #13: 70 to 79 Male Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 14.34
Group #14: 70 to 79 Female Sprinters
Average 100-meter time: 17.61 seconds
Engineer calcs reported that the average human athlete sprinting speed was then calculated to be 18.23 mph (3:17.5 minutes per mile).
- Average male running speed: 19.52 mph (3:04.4 minutes per mile).
- Average female running speed: 17.12 mph (3:30 minutes per mile)
Factors That Affect Your Running Speed
There are quite a few factors that can influence the average running speed of humans, both in terms of an individual runner’s overall average running speed and their average running speed on any given day.
The first category refers to factors that affect running speed is more constant and have little to no variation for each runner; they may only differ between individuals and thus serve as a contributing factor to why those two runners run at different speeds.
An excellent example of one of these types of factors that affects your average running speed is your biological sex. Males typically have more muscle mass and less body fat relative to females, enabling them to run faster. Therefore, the average running pace for men is faster than it is for women.
Moreover, your biological sex isn’t going to change from one day to the next, so these types of factors can be thought of as static.
There are also factors that affect your running speed that can vary from day to day or at least change more readily. For example, how well you slept or how much sleep you got can affect your energy level and thus the pace you run.
These can be thought of as variable factors that affect your running speed.
Although far from exhaustive lists, the following are some of the most common and influential factors that affect your running speed;
Static Factors That Affect Running Speed
(Note that these factors can change within the same runner but usually do so more gradually than the factors in the list that follows.)
- Body composition
- Hormonal levels
- Training level
Variable Factors That Affect Running Speed
- Weather conditions, including temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind
- Your hydration status
- Your nutritional status (when you last ate, how much you ate, what you ate, etc.)
- How much and how well you sleep
- Whether you are carrying any external weight, such as a hydration vest, backpack, or things in your hands
- How much you ran the day before and how tired you are from it
- Your training volume and the types of workouts you do (high mileage versus low mileage, cross-training, strength training, whether you do speed workouts or just regular steady aerobic runs, etc.)
- Your running shoes
- The clothing you’re wearing
- Your motivation level
Now that we’ve answered the question how fast can the average human run, where do you stack up?
Remember, be proud of yourself no matter where you fall amongst your peers when it comes to pace. Slow or fast, you are a runner, and the running community is lucky to have you.
If you would like to work specifically on improving your speed, we have plenty of guides to help you do so: