What Is the Average Running Speed? Plus Tips for Running Faster

You’ve been hard at work with your first 5K training plan, and it’s clearly paying off. It used to take every ounce of your effort simply to make it through the 3.1-mile run without stopping, but now you’re starting to push the pace and add some speed to the equation. “You’re really moving out there!” remarks a friend of yours. “How fast are you now?”

That question stops you in your tracks. What pace are you averaging now? And how does that compare to the average running speed? I’ll let you compare your numbers to the averages. And then, to help you hasten your running speed, I sat down for a chat with running coach Lee Whitaker. Check out his top tips below.

What Is the Average Running Speed?

Asking about “average running speed” can mean different things in different moments. On one hand, you might be referring to the fastest you can possibly go in a brief period of time; on the other, you may be asking about the fastest speed you can actually sustain.

[Read More: How Many Miles Should I Run a Day? Insights From a CPT]

Think about the difference between your one-rep max and, say, your 10-rep max. The former is a lot heavier; the latter, a lot lighter. So your average maximum speed — an all-out sprint — is going to be a lot faster than your average sustainable speed for a mile, a 5K, a 10K, or a marathon.

Average Maximum Speed

How fast does the average person run during an all-out sprint? Well, that’s pretty hard to pin down.

Unfortunately, the majority of the calculations for the average maximum achievable speed have been taken using the averages of the most elite competitive sprinters in each age range. This does not provide an accurate reference point of what an average person — or even an average athlete — is capable of running. The average trained sprinter is understandably much faster than someone who doesn’t train regularly for maximum speed.

For a better reference point, most runners of any age or gender who do not specialize in sprinting are likely to post a 100-meter dash time that is somewhere between 12 and 20 seconds. This provides a range of peak times during these runs that ranges from 13 miles per hour to 18 miles per hour. The middle of this range — 14 to 15 miles per hour — is a reasonable projection for most non-sprinters.

[Read More: Learn How to Run Faster (At Any Skill Level) From a Triathlete Coach]

For reference, the highest speed achieved by Usain Bolt during his men’s world-record-setting sprint in the 100-meter dash in 2011 was just under 28 miles per hour.

Florence Griffith-Joyner reached a maximum speed of over 21 miles per hour when she established the women’s world record for the 100-meter sprint. 

Average Sustainable Speed

Yes, it’s worth your while to know what your maximum attainable speed is if you ever need to get out of a running crocodile’s way (they’re faster than they look). But day to day, you might be more interested in your fastest maintainable speed over, for example, a full run of one mile. 

According to Running Level, the average running pace of most runners attempting to complete a fast mile is as follows:

Runners assigned male at birth: average of just over 9 miles per hour across all ages

Runners assigned female at birth: average of about 7.8 miles per hour across all ages

More research inclusive of trans and nonbinary athletes is needed. However, recent research suggests that trans women athletes may in fact be disadvantaged on the field compared to their cisgender peers. (1)

Most adult cis women’s times hover around an eight-minute mile prior to age 50 (or about 7.5 miles per hour). For those over 65, that would be considered an elite time. For cis men, an average of seven minutes or less to complete a mile is common before age 45 (an average speed of 8.5 miles per hour).

[Read More: How Long Does It Take to Run a Mile? (Plus Tips From an Expert Coach)]

The world record holder for a one-mile run is Hicham El Guerrouj, who is often cited as the greatest middle-distance runner of all time. His record-setting one-mile run of 3:47 required him to average just shy of 16 miles per hour for the entire distance. This is nearly one full mile per hour faster than the 15 miles per hour required to hit the prized four-minute mile benchmark.

What Factors Impact Running Speed?

You may choose to focus on your fastest running time over a short distance, or you might believe that your best multi-mile pace is a purer measurement of running speed. Regardless of your decision, several factors influence your potential to get from point A to point B. Some of them can’t be easily changed, but you’ll have a great deal of control over some of the others.

Your Age

Average running speed follows a clear pattern of increasing throughout your early teenage years up until you reach the age of about 30 years old. From there, your average speed will experience a steady decline as you advance in age. That isn’t to say that you can’t work hard and record your fastest speed at a later age. It simply means that based on average human running speed patterns, your best potential performance is most likely to occur in your early 20s.

Your Sex Assigned at Birth 

When running statistics are recorded, they tend to be separated based on age, experience level, and the person’s sex assigned at birth. In these records, cis male runners on average tend to log faster running times than cis women. 

Despite this, there have always been instances in which cis women runners are significantly stronger and faster than male runners, especially when they are well-trained.

More data is needed on nonbinary runners and what specific impacts HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has on running performance for trans athletes.

The Distance You’re Running

The race distance you’re getting after is a major factor in determining the average speed that you can maintain throughout a race. Your average running speed is going to greatly depend on whether you are running a 100-meter dash, a half marathon, or an ultramarathon.

[Read More: The Best Treadmills for Running]

A short sprint will indicate your maximum potential speed, but your average mile time over a long-distance run is more reflective of how fast you can reach a distant location.

How Strong You Are

Yes, what you do under a barbell can impact your performance on the treadmill or track. Research suggests that building up your lower body with strength training can improve your prowess as a runner. (2) This is especially true if you have exposed your legs to workouts that include resistance exercises that build lower-body muscle strength, like lunges and squats.

Tips to Improve Running Speed

As a certified expert running coach who has guided high school students of all genders to championships at several distances, Lee Whitaker is a valuable resource for tools that can help you dash across the finish line faster than ever. Here are his tips for getting faster and putting your muscle mass to good use on the track.

All-Out Sprinting

If you want to lift heavier weights, you’ve got to…lift heavier weights. And if you want to run faster…well, you know. 

Sprinting is perhaps the most obvious choice for helping yourself get faster — just remember that it’s not the only one. Make sure you’re being deliberate about how you program your training regimen. Speed is not the only thing you’re lacing up your running shoes for (but it is important).

[Read More: The Best Running Workouts to Level Up Your Conditioning]

“The more experienced the runner is, the more value they get from sprint workouts,” says Whitaker. “A novice runner is just trying to get some basic fitness to be able to finish a race…You need to have a powerful foot strike and a powerful and quick leg recovery within the running gait. The only way that you can develop those things is to run fast.” 

Interval Training

If your only goal is to move at the fastest possible running pace for as long as you can hold it, you might think it would be unhelpful to run at different speeds and time intervals while you train. 

But behind the scenes, your body will be undergoing quite a few changes while you’re busy shifting between running speeds and distances, while raising and lowering your heart rate in turn. Research suggests that this can translate into you becoming a much faster human being, with a much more efficient cardiovascular system. (3)

[Read More: The Best Interval Running Workouts and Tips from Top Running Coaches]

“Interval training — including high-intensity interval training — is going to be extremely useful,” suggests Whitaker. “It goes from all-out sprint speed all the way down to lactate threshold work. When we go across that spectrum [of workout types], we get different benefits in terms of how we deal with the waste products that create the lactic acid that builds up…All of those components help to build speed.”

Tempo Runs

Suffice it to say, a key component of boosting your running performance is increasing your average pace over whatever distance is being used to measure your speed. One way to do this is to train using tempo runs, which require you to push the boundaries of what your body can tolerate. 

“’Tempo run‘ can be an ambiguous term, but when I hear tempo run, I think about a threshold run,” notes Whitaker. “From that perspective, when you’re right at that lactate threshold level, just above it, or just below it, that’s how we start to sort of push the lactate threshold line up a little bit so that it’s just a little higher. The body starts to get accustomed to that and starts to produce a little bit less lactate at those paces, and it allows you to run just a little bit faster for a little bit longer because you don’t have quite the accumulation of the waste products in the muscle at that point.”

Aerobic Training

Aerobic runs are required for elite athletes who hope to establish a steady marathon pace, and also for the beginner runner who needs to build upon a respectable average jogging speed. Outside of distance running, aerobic workouts can still be beneficial to building your speed when paired with anaerobic training, especially if the duration of the run extends beyond half a minute. (4)

“Some people kind of get confused about how aerobic training can help them even when they’re competing at a really fast pace,” says Whitaker. “There are some structural changes that happen with the body when you train aerobically, including the creation of new capillaries within the muscles. When we create more capillaries, we can pass a higher volume of blood through the muscle, and we can also pass more waste products out through the muscle. That makes you more efficient, and that’s one of the big adaptations that comes from aerobic training that is helpful in terms of maintaining speed.

Strength Training

When you’re running faster, your feet will be traversing more ground at a quicker pace. So, when your feet can press against the ground with greater force, they can launch you across a greater distance in a shorter period. That’s where strength training comes in handy. It’ll boost your overall fitness level and muscle mass, transferring into a stronger running game.

“There’s a pure muscular component to running fast, and it’s really just about getting stronger,” adds Whitaker. “That’s why most serious runners will do strength training for their lower body and their core at least once a week, and usually more. More strength means more force, faster recovery, faster feet, and higher cadence. All of that comes from strength training and sprint training.”

[Read More: How to Balance Running and Strength Training, No Matter Your Goals]

Need some strength training tips for the road? Here are some of the best exercises out there you can try (along with how to do them and modifications for your current skill level and body’s needs).

Best Leg Exercises

Best Ab Exercises

Best Shoulder Exercises

Best Chest Exercises

Frequently Asked Questions

Need a check-in about your speed? Here’s your first stop.

Is 10 miles per hour fast for a human?

This one all depends on context. How long are you maintaining that speed?

In terms of pure sprinting speed, 10 miles per hour is on the low end of the speed range. 

However, a 10-mile-per-hour pace maintained for an entire mile is an advanced time for almost any cis male runner and an elite mile time for any cis female runner. 

And sustaining that pace for an entire half marathon will distinguish you as an elite long-distance runner in any age range.

What is the maximum running speed for the average person?

The average sprinting speed for an average person is seldom measured. The sprinting performances of average people, or even average experienced athletes, are not counted amongst the recorded finish times of elite sprinters in any age bracket. With that being said, the projected top speed of an average person is in the range of 14 to 15 miles per hour.

How many miles per hour is a normal run?

Most intermediate runners will complete a one-mile run while sustaining speeds of between 6.0 and 8.0 miles per hour.

Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.


Hamilton B, Brown A, Montagner-Moraes S, Comeras-Chueca C, Bush PG, Guppy FM, Pitsiladis YP. Strength, power and aerobic capacity of transgender athletes: a cross-sectional study. Br J Sports Med. 2024 Apr 10:bjsports-2023-108029.

Llanos-Lagos C, Ramirez-Campillo R, Moran J, Sáez de Villarreal E. Effect of Strength Training Programs in Middle- and Long-Distance Runners’ Economy at Different Running Speeds: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2024 Apr;54(4):895-932. 

Koral J, Oranchuk DJ, Herrera R, Millet GY. Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):617-623. 

Støren Ø, Helgerud J, Johansen JM, Gjerløw LE, Aamlid A, Støa EM. Aerobic and Anaerobic Speed Predicts 800-m Running Performance in Young Recreational Runners. Front Physiol. 2021 May 21;12:672141.

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