For many people, running has become a routine activity. Millions across the globe are do it for fun and healthier lifestyle. Nonetheless, a select group of professional athletes run for a living. For them, it is a mission to redefine the fastest running speed in humans and set records. So how fast can a human run?
The Fastest Human Ever
How fast can a human run? Humans can be pretty quick. Usain Bolt, The fastest human ever, set the world 100 meters record at 9.58 seconds. This means that he sprinted the stretch at an astonishing 21.75 mph average speed!
When scientists further analyzed Bolt’s speed at different stages, it was ascertained that at full flight, he bolted at a speed of up to 27.34 mph between 60 and 80 meters on the track. And on that day, history was made. That was Phenomenal!
Did Usain Bolt Defy Biomechanical Facts?
Ironically, research findings indicate that an athlete of Usain Bolt’s physique is not the favorite to have won the race. At least not against relatively shorter competitors.
According to biomechanics, the musculature of short people has more first-twitch muscle fibers that enhance rapid acceleration compared to taller people. Does this mean that Usain Bolt has redefined biomechanics? That’s a topic for another day.
I imagine what you are thinking by now. You are thinking of getting in your car and driving it at 27 mph to have a clue of what exactly we are talking about. Huh? You are wondering what on earth can make a human run that fast. There is a cocktail of factors that influence one’s speed, genetics being one of them.
Human Running Endurance
Away from the sprints, let us see how fast a human can run in long distances.
Eliud Kipchoge is the fastest human ever to run a 26.2-mile course. He achieved this fete in Vienna Austria in 2019 by crossing the finishing line at a time of 1:59:40. This translates to a speed of 13.1 mph (21.18 kph)
What Is The Average Speed For a Human?
This is the million-dollar question. Since all individuals differ in so many aspects and further differentiated by the conditions under which they are running, it is backbreaking to determine the average speed for humans.
To begin with, considerations like gender, age, body size, fitness, height, distance, course condition and weather are key variables that influence an individual’s speed.
The only scenario in which almost all these parameters are brought closest to equal is in a world-class organized marathon. These marathons bring together people from different climatic regions but recommend all participants to be in specified fitness conditions.
This unifies it all. With all the runners on the same course and running the same distance, marathon becomes our best pick for helping to determine the average speed for a human.
Marathon sets different entry qualifications for participants of varying gender, age groups and even for those living with a disability. These qualifications, therefore, translates to one of the most accurate determinants of average speed for a human. Based on this, we can breakdown the statistics in terms of gender and age as follows:
How fast can a man run?
- 18 – 34 years: Average speed of 8.46 mph(13.62 kph)
- 35 – 39 years: Average speed of 8.23 mph (13.26 kph)
- 40 – 44 years: Average speed: 8.0 mpg (12.92 kph)
- 45 – 49 years: Average speed 7.6 mph1(12.29 kph)
- 50 – 54 years: Average speed 7.5 mph (12.29 kph)
How fast can a woman run?
- 18 – 34 years: Average speed of 7.3 mph (11.72 kph)
- 35 – 39 years: Average speed of 7.0 mph (11.45 kph)
- 40 – 44 years: Average speed: 6.8 mph (11.02 kph)
- 45 – 49 years: Average speed 6.6 mph (10.72kph)
- 50 – 54 years: Average speed 6.2 mph (10.05 kph)
These are selected qualifications for categories in the Bolton Marathon. These, we can conclude that the average speed of people in the age bracket of 18 – 55 years is the highest. When gender is put to play, women have lower averages compared to men.
Other Sources of Human Running Information
How about you who has never run a marathon? Since most of us don’t run marathons, we should find an alternative mechanism to determine running averages.
According to data sent to Strava (a workout app) in 2018 by more than 300 million runners globally, the average was 9 minutes 48 seconds per mile or 6.12 mph.
This is voluntary information from “Unprofessional” runners like most of us. This average combines both men and women of different age brackets. Other sources further report that new runners may take up to 15 minutes to run a mile.
Average Human Jogging Speed
What is the difference between jogging and running? You may ask. These two are separated by pace and intensity. While jogging is slow and takes less effort, running is much faster and calls for more energy. Jogging is described as running at a speed of between 4 – 6 mph while running starts from 6 mph speed and above.
Average human jogging speed has no universal gauge per se. This is because jogging is one very personalized form of aerobic exercise. Your heart rate determines your average jogging speed.
This is an exercise that is close to the heart. Nonetheless, going by the definition of jogging speed as between 4 and 6 mph, we can thereby conclude that the average human jogging speed is five mph.
Average Human Sprint Speed
While most of the world’s population is used to running and jogging, sprinting is a reserve for a handful. When did you last sprint? I doubt if you do it so often. I guess most of us reserve sprinting for emergencies. Average human sprint speed can, therefore, be placed at 15 mph based on results collected from track events from competitive athletes
Types of Running
While jogging, running and sprinting is a differentiation of this all these variations based on speed and intensity, we can further define different types of running based on the environment in which we run.
1. Road/ Pavement Running: This is how we all start running. You simply open your door and step out on the pavement or that road you use daily. That is it. You have become a runner! It is the least demanding of them all. No specialized equipment, training or expensive sports shoes needed here.
2. Trail Running: This is not just any other form of running; it sermons the spirit of adventure to run the distance with you. Trail running is done through different terrains; hill, through forests, across a river and so on. It gives you a therapeutic encounter with nature as you run through the beautiful sceneries of the wild.
3. Race Running: Every runner will always take a chance to gauge his strength competitively of just achieving a personal target. Running in organized races adds some thrill to your running experience. Racing varies in distance and terrain. Running with a group of other runners always gives your running a sense of belonging.
4. Field /Track Running: It offers the most appropriate conditions for a runner. Field Tracks help you know exactly what distance you have covers and this helps to know your speed. Being on a field also improves your safety. This is so when compared to road and trail running where you are exposed to traffic and uneven terrains.
5. Treadmill Running: You can run a full 26-mile marathon in the comfort of your house thanks to a treadmill. They offer an indoor alternative to the other outdoors options. Treadmill running allows you to set the intensity (hiit treadmill workouts). It is a perfect choice, especially when the weather out there is not friendly.
Muscle Used When Running: Running Anatomy:
What muscles does running work? To understand the biomechanics of running, you need to know the muscles involved in running. Maybe it can be easier if you asked, “Which muscles on your body are not involved in running?
In essence, running engages the entire human body. And, in this article, we discuss the seven muscles groups that are involved the most while running.
- Quadriceps Muscles
It refers to a group of four muscles that are found on the front part of your thighs. They are primarily engaged whenever your leg moves forward.
The intermedius, Lateralus, Vastus Medialis and Rectus Femoris are the muscles that make up your Quadriceps. They run from the knee cap to your hips.
When you run, these muscles are responsible for extending and bending your knees to enable you to initiate forward movement.
They also help to flex the hips; lifting your leg higher to achieve a wider stride, knee stabilization and straightening Quads are also act as shock absorbers as they arrest the shock from the ground to reduce impact in hip and chest.
- Glute Muscles
This consists of Gluteus Maximus, minimus and medius. These are the three muscles that make your butt. The largest of them all is the Gluteus maximus which form your buttocks.
The Gluteal is the “powerhouse” when it comes to running. Do you want to be a better runner? I guess yours have to invest in them.
Major roles include Hip extension, stabilization of legs and the hip, maintaining a straight posture and stability of your trunk as you run. They also maintain proper alignment of the knees. Generally, they help to strengthen and stabilize your hip and pelvis when you are in motion.
This is a set of four muscles that are located along the backside of your thigh. They run from hip to knee joint. The hamstring is made of the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and the biceps femoris.
They combine to make the large tendon at the back of your knee. They complement the quads in helping to an extent and bend your knees to create a forward movement.
Apart from helping the quads in bending and extending your knee forward, they play a major role in flexing the knee to place the foot backwards as you seek to generate enough energy to push you forward. They also help in the extension of the thigh.
- Hip Flexor Muscles
From the name, you can guess they have something to do with flexibility. These muscles are found at the top of your thigh or front of the hip.
They are engaged in any movement that may involve lifting of your leg, running being one of them. They run from the spinal vertebrae to the thigh bone.
They are responsible for your mobility, twisting and bending at the hip joint. They also enhance stability. Tight hip flexors will not allow you the much versatility needed to run faster.
You need them in good condition to enable you to make lengthy and strong strides as you run. They are the unsung hero muscles in the running. Many athletes neglect them during training.
- Calve Muscles
The smaller soleus (inner calf) and the large gastrocnemius (outer calf) are the muscles that make the calves. Located at the back of your leg, they run to the heels connected by the Achilles tendon.
The calves form the major muscle of your lower leg.
In the running, the calves are involved every step of the journey. They are called into action to spring your leg off the ground and pushing you forward.
They flex and extend your feet as they touch down and spring back up, giving them balance. They also absorb shock from the ground. Weak calves may result in strain to your Achilles tendons and shin splints.
- Core Muscles
By core muscles, we mean muscles of your trunk: Abdominal, oblique, hip, par spinal and lower back muscles. They greatly impact in your running efficiency. The core is the coordinator of all the activities in the running.
The core holds your upper body in proper running posture and to provide balance and stability. They coordinate joint movements and facilitate the distribution of energy. A runner needs to work his core as much as he works muscles of the thighs and legs.
- Upper Body Muscles
Its common knowledge that running with tied hands will slow you down.
Why is it so? This is because your arms, biceps and shoulder muscles play a very important but often underestimated role in running.
Your biceps and shoulder muscles swing your arms back and forth to help give your body momentum and extra strength for running efficiency.
- Cardiac Muscles
If you never run with your heart, then know it from today that your heart always runs with you.
Yes, your cardiac muscles are fairly worked as you run. Running is a physical activity that calls for more oxygen supply to the flesh. This is only made possible by the heart.
The heart has to go an extra mile to fetch more blood to keep you going. By this, the cardiac muscle is worked more than they could have worked while you are walking.
Biomechanics of Running
Biological variables like bones, muscle fibers, sex and, age is the major factors that determine how fast or how far you can run.
For the gender factor, you can note that the women’s 100 meters record was set at 10.49 seconds in 1988 by American sprinter Florence Griffin Younger. This is low compared to Bolt’s record. It can be conclusively said that men can run faster than women.
Muscles fibers are the major determinants of your running trends. There are two types of muscle fibers: Fast-twitch and Slow-twitch fibers.
First twitch fibers: These erupt into very quick contractions that result in short and powerful runs. Being fast contracting fibers makes them to fatigue quickly too.
Speed training will make your body adapt by building more of fast-twitch tissue than slow ones. You can expect to find these fibers in sprinters
Slow-twitch fibers; they have slow contractions and sustain longer periods of running. They have more mitochondria compared to the fast-twitch tissues.
Having more mitochondria makes them have a good oxygen supply which generates enough energy to sustain long runs. Do i need to tell you that long-distance runners have more of these?
Proper Running Form
Running, just like any other exercises, needs to be done in the appropriate body posture to avoid injuries. For running efficiency, your body should be in proper form from head to toe.
1. Start with a straight head focusing your eyes about 20 feet in the ground in front. Your back and entire trunk should maintain a straight posture and avoid leaning forward or backwards.
2. Shoulders should be pulled back slightly to raise your chest a little bit ahead. This ensures no restriction to your breathing. Avoid rounding your shoulders forward. Keep your arm at a 900 angle and ensure to swing your hands back and forth from chin to waist. This gives your body the much-needed momentum.
3. A tight core is what is required for efficient running. It is your center of gravity, and any instability to the center may land you on the ground. I know you don’t want that to happen. Keep it neutral posture from the waist.
4. Your knee should be aligned to the middle of your foot. As your foot land on the ground, it should be directly under the knee. While raising your leg, try not to pull the knee far up to 900.
5. Your shin should be perpendicular to your foot as it hits the ground. This helps the ankle, knee, and hip joints to share the shock from the field. Target to land on the ball of your foot. Consistently landing on your heels or toes will expose you to injury.
7 Benefits of Running
Running is a form of a compound exercise. It works almost all muscles on your body and has tremendous benefits to your health. Benefits of running include:
- Good for of aerobic fitness:
Running is of the best exercise for your cardio. This is so due to its compoundness. It works the heart to pump more blood to almost all muscles on your body.
- Helps in weight loss:
Running helps to crush significant amounts of calories. Run-on your way to weight loss.
- Stress reliever:
It is a good way to cool your nerves after a stressful and numbing day. Running i a good remedy to help you sweat out some toxic thoughts.
- It lowers cholesterol levels:
Running is a perfect fat burner. Engaging the whole body ensures a good reduction in your cholesterol levels.
- Increases metabolism:
Running shakes the entire body into activity in a consistent and semi-intensive way, making it a very good metabolism enhancer.
- Higher lung capacity:
The aerobic nature of running helps to work your lungs to work better. The long heavy breathing during running makes your lungs to adapt by increasing its capacity.
- Decreases risk of Osteoporosis:
Running works, bones, muscles and joints. Frequent running will help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially in older folks.
Common Running Injuries
- Runner’s knee
This can be described as an “over-use” type of injury. All athletes experience it, but it’s more common with runners. It presents itself as pain around your kneecap.
This as a result of your knees running out of ligament. You are most likely to feel the pain when squatting or climbing the stairs.
- Stress fracture
It mostly happens to the shin or foot bones. These small fractures or tears as a result of overworking especially during the first days of exercise.
They can advance into a more complicated situation if not attended to earlier. Rest is the primary remedy.
- Achilles tendinitis
Too much stress to your Achilles’ tendons will strain them and cause this kind of injury. You will experience stiffness and pain on the ligaments, especially in the morning or when you try to walk around.
You need to rest, stretch your calves and icing; it will ease the pain.
- Hamstring Issues
This group of muscles at the back of your thigh works had when you run. Stretching it beyond limits will result in a hamstring strain.
This is one of the injuries that take too long to heal, and it may recur if you hurry to get it back to activity.
- Muscles strain
It is just as common to runners as it is in other athletes. A muscle strain is an injury that can occur even from our day to day activities.
This happens when any muscle on our body is overstretched.
- Plantar fasciitis
Inflammations or small tears on the ligaments and tendons that run from toe to heel.
It causes severe pain to the heels, which is especially felt when you stand after some time of inactivity.
The uniquely, plantar fasciitis may at the time just occur without a specific cause.
- Blister and sore skin
Consistent friction between your surface and shoes will earn you some blisters on your foot.
These fluid-filled sacks come with pain around the affected area. Avoid shoes that fit tight and wear a double-layered pair of socks to prevent blisters
How fast a human can run FAQs
1. Can a human run 30mph?
The fastest human running speed ever recorded is that of Usain Bolt, which is 27.3 mph. Even though we cannot conclude that this is the limit of human speed, a study of biomechanics does not give any hint of humans being able to run at a speed 30mph. It is a little too fast for humans.
2. Is 20mph fast for a human?
Yes, this is a very fast speed for humans. Considering the average speed an athletic sprinter being 15 mph and the fastest human ever top speed being 43.99 kph, a speed of 20 mph is fast for a human.
3. How fast can Usain Bolt run?
Usain Bolt did run at a record 43.99 kph to set a new world record. His record remains unbroken to date. However, he managed to sustain this top speed for a 20 meters length in the 100 meters race.
4. Is running 15mph fast?
Running at a speed of 15 mph is fast. It this speed, it is considered not just as running but a sprint. Sprinting is a quick activity in human running.