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How fast can a human run on a treadmill or outside? Millions across the globe run to keep fit, and a select group of professional athletes run for a living. For the latter, it is a mission to redefine the fastest running speed in humans and set records. So how fast can a person on a treadmill or outdoors?
Table of Contents
The Fastest Humans Ever
How fast can a human run?
Fastest Speed in a Short Distance Run
Humans can be pretty quick, and Usain Bolt, the fastest human ever and world-record holder, set the 100-meter sprint world record at 9.58 seconds. This means that he sprinted the stretch at 21.75 mph average speed!
When scientists further analyzed Bolt’s speed at different stages, they found out that at full flight, he bolted at 27.34 mph between 60 and 80 meters on the track. Phenomenal!
On that day, history was made on the 100-meter sprint field.
Did Usain Bolt Defy Biomechanical Facts?
Ironically, research findings indicate that elite sprinters of Usain Bolt’s physique is not the winning favorite in 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’re thinking – to get in your car and drive at 27 miles per hour to have a clue of Bolt’s speed. Do that in a bit, for now, let’s talk about what makes a person run that fast.
Fastest Speed in a Long Distance Run – A Test of Human Endurance
Away from the short races, 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 feat in Vienna, Austria in 2019 by crossing the finishing line in 1:59:40, which translates to 13.1 mph (or 21.18 km/h).
Many factors influence one’s speed, and one of those says that either you have it or you don’t – genetics! Most elite sprinters have good genes. Now don’t let that discourage you. There’s more to improving speed, as you will find out.
What Is the Average Running Speed for a Human on a Treadmill?
Gender, age, body size, fitness, height, distance, course condition, and weather are key variables that influence an individual’s speed. So, you’ll get different answers to this question depending on some of these variables, as you will see below.
The only scenario in which almost all these parameters are brought closest to equal is in a globally-organized marathon. These marathons bring together people from different climatic regions but recommend all participants to be in specified fitness conditions.
Marathons set 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. Based on this, we can break down the statistics in terms of gender and age as follows:
How Fast Can a Man Run on a Treadmill?
|Age||Maximum running speeds (miles per hour) (kilometres per hour)|
|18 – 34 years||8.46 mph (13.62 km/h)|
|35 – 39 years||8.23 (13.26 )|
|40 – 44 years||8.0 (12.92 )|
|45 – 49 years||7.6 (12.29)|
|50 – 54 years||7.5 (12.29)|
How Fast Can a Woman Run on a Treadmill?
|Age||Maximum running speeds (miles per hour) (kilometres per hour)|
|18 – 34 years||7.3 mph (11.72 km/h)|
|35 – 39 years||7.0 (11.45)|
|40 – 44 years||6.8 (11.02)|
|45 – 49 years||6.6 (10.72)|
|50 – 54 years||6.2 (10.05)|
These are selected qualifications for categories in the Bolton Marathon. We can conclude that the speed of humans in the 18-to-34-year-old range is the highest. When gender is put to play, men have higher averages than women.
What’s the Average Speed of Non-Marathon Runners?
So, how about people like you who have never run a marathon? Since most of us don’t run marathons, we should find an alternative mechanism to determine 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 non-professional runners like most of us, combining 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.
Jogging Speed on a Treadmill
What is the difference between jogging and running?
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 moving at a speed of between 4 – 6 mph, while running starts from 6 mph speed and faster.
Please note that 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. SIDE NOTE: You might also like to check out my other article treadmills for sprinting
Sprint Speed on a Treadmill
While most of the world’s population is used to running and jogging, sprinting is reserved 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.
Fast-paced speed can be placed at 15 mph based on results collected from track events from competitive athletes. For intense workouts, we recommend any of these treadmills with iFit.
Related: Don’t have a treadmill? Learn how to run in place to burn calories and stay fit.
Types of Running
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’s 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 summons the spirit of adventure to run the distance with you. This exercise is done on different terrains: over ridges and hills, through forests, across a river, and so on. It gives you a therapeutic encounter with nature as you run through the beautiful sceneries of nature.
3. Race Running
Every runner will always take a chance to gauge his strength competitively or achieve a personal target. The training in organized races adds some thrill to the experience. Racing varies in distance and terrain. Exercising with a group of other runners will always give your running a sense of belonging.
4. Field / Track Running
This type of running offers the most appropriate conditions for a runner. Field tracks help you know what distance you can cover and determine your running speed. Running on a track also improves your safety 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 the best portable treadmills available these days. They offer an indoor alternative to the other outdoors options. Treadmill sprinting allows you to set the intensity (HIIT treadmill workouts). It is the perfect choice, especially when the weather out there is not the most ideal.
Related Post: Will Running Barefoot on a Treadmill Cause Injuries?
Muscle Used When Running
What muscles does running work? To understand the biomechanics of running, you need to know the muscles involved. Maybe it can be easier if you asked, “Which muscles on your body are not involved in running? In essence, running engages the entire body but more so the lower body, and it could be an effective way to lose up to 50 pounds.
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. 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, lift your leg higher to achieve a wider stride, and stabilize and strengthen the knees. Quads also act as shock absorbers, arresting the shock from the running surface to reduce impact to your hip and chest.
The gluteal muscles are the “powerhouse” when it comes to running. Do you want to be a better runner? I guess your have to invest in your glutes. Its major roles include hip extension, stabilization of legs and the hip, maintaining a straight posture, and stabilizing 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 that is located along the backside of your thigh. They run from hip to knee joint. They combine to make the large tendon at the back of your knee. They complement the quads in extending and bending your knees to create a forward movement.
4. Hip Flexor
From the name, you can guess they have something to do with flexibility. They 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, including running. They run from the spinal vertebrae to the thigh bone.
The smaller soleus (inner calf) and the large gastrocnemius (outer calf) are the muscles comprising 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 this exercise, the calves are involved every step of the journey. They are called into action to spring your leg off the ground and push you forward.
By core, we mean muscles of your trunk: abdominal, oblique, hip, pars spinal, and lower back. They greatly impact in your efficiency. The core is the coordinator of all the activities you do when running, holds your upper body in proper posture, and provides balance and stability. The core muscles 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.
7. Upper Body
Your biceps and shoulder muscles swing your arms back and forth to give your body momentum and extra strength for running efficiency. So using a treadmill can help you get skinny arms.
8. Cardiac Muscles
Yes, your cardiac muscles are fairly worked as you run. This physical activity calls for more oxygen supply to the flesh, so the heart has to go an extra mile to fetch more blood to keep you going. So when you run, you work out your cardiac muscles more than when you walk.
Biomechanics of Running
Biological variables like bones, muscle fibers, sex are the major factors that determine how fast or how far you can run.
Let’s take gender, for instance.
In 1988, American sprinter Florence Griffin Younger set the women’s record for 100 meters at 10.49 seconds, which is slower than Bolt’s 9.58 seconds. So it’s fair to conclude 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.
- Fast twitch fibers: These erupt into very quick contractions, resulting in short and powerful runs. Fast-contracting fibers also get fatigued quickly. Speed training will make your body adapt by building more fast-twitch tissue than slow ones. You can expect to find these fibers in sprinters.
- Slow-twitch fibers: These fibers contract slowly and help you run for longer. They have more mitochondria compared to the fast-twitch tissues. More mitochondria means they have a good supply of oxygen, allowing them to generate enough energy to sustain long runs. It’s not surprising that long-distance runners have more of this fiber type.
Proper Running Form
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 90-degree angle and ensure to swing your hands back and forth from chin to waist. This gives your body the much-needed momentum.
3. Tighten your core to ensure 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 lands on the ground, it should be directly under the knee. While raising your leg, try not to pull the knee far up to 90 degrees.
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.
6. Recovery: Here is a quick tip, for recovery, we recommend you use a foam roller for shin splint to tackle the muscle knots.
Must Read Article: Does running make your thighs smaller?
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
- Helps in weight loss
- Stress reliever
- It lowers cholesterol levels
- Increases metabolism
- Higher lung capacity
- Decreases risk of osteoporosis
Common Running Injuries
This can be described as an “over-use” type of injury. All athletes experience it, but it’s more common among runners. It presents itself as pain on 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 stairs.
It mostly happens to the shin or foot bones. These small fractures or tears are 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.
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 apply ice to ease the pain.
This group of muscles at the back of your thigh works hard when you run. Stretching it beyond limits will result in a hamstring strain, which is one of the injuries that take too long to heal. It may recur if you hurry to get back to action.
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. Using a foam roller can help sooth your muscles.
These are inflammations or small tears on the ligaments and tendons running from your toes to the heels. They cause severe pain to the heels, especially when you stand after some time of inactivity.
Blister and sore skin
Consistent friction between the surface and your shoes will earn you some foot blisters. These fluid-filled sacs come with pain around the affected area. Avoid ill-fitting shoes and wear a double-layered pair of socks to prevent blisters.
1. Can a human run 30mph?
The fastest person running speed ever recorded is that of Usain Bolt, which is 27.34 mph on a 100-meter dash. Even though we cannot conclude that this is the limit of speed, a study of biomechanics does not give any hint of humans being able to run at a speed 30 mph. It is a little too fast for humans.
2. Is 20 mph fast for a human?
Yes, this is a very fast speed for humans, considering that the average speed of an athletic sprinter is 15 mph and the fastest human’s top speed ever is 27.34 mph.
3. How fast can Usain Bolt run?
Usain Bolt holds the record for the fastest running speed at 27.34 mph, which he managed to sustain 20 meters in the 100-meter race. For the whole race, he registered an average speed of 21.75 mph, which remains unbeaten to date.
Written by Alisha Wishart – TheHealthPot.com
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Writer and Contributor
Alisha, is a Mother, Wife and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). She understands how demanding everyday life can be and takes great pride in working with individuals and groups to help them achieve their desired fitness goals. Read more about Alisha here.