The world went crazy back in 2009 when Usain Bolt broke the 100 metre record with an astonishing top speed of 44 kilometres per hour. That’s far quicker than the average human who can typically only run between 20 and 30 kilometres per hour on average.
It’s pretty impressive when you think about it and while Bolt, whose name is rather fitting, is a trained athlete, there are ways that you and I can improve our running speed. Perhaps we won’t become quite as speedy as our beloved world record holder but there’s no harm in trying.
Average Human Speed
Humans are able to walk at up to 9km per hour although it’s more common for us to gander along at around 5km per hour. But when it comes to running, we can move quite a lot quicker.
On average, a human would be able to complete a 100 metre sprint in around 12 to 20 seconds if they were running at an average speed of between 20 and 30km per hour. However, you have to keep in mind that the top end of that range, 30km per hour would be more likely from a trained athlete.
Even then, they wouldn’t be running at that speed for the entire race. When taking part in a 100 metre sprint, you’ll usually find that as the athlete starts running, they’ll gather speed over the first 60 or so metres. At this point, they’ll hit their high before slowing down towards the end of the race.
Why Do Some People Run Faster Than Others: The Genetics
There are a lot of factors that can affect how quickly you can run and we will go into these in a little more detail shortly. However, it’s important to keep in mind that genetics play an important part in how quickly you can sprint.
For example, if you have longer legs, you’ll naturally cover a larger distance more quickly because your stride length will be bigger. Moreover, if a runner has larger lungs, they will have a more efficient flow of oxygen which directly affects their speed.
Other things like your bone to muscle ratio and the condition of your cardiovascular system all impact how quickly you can sprint. Another great example of this is your bodyweight.
The heavier you are, the more energy you will need to get yourself moving. This is all to do with how gravity works with your weight and each time your foot leaves the ground, you’re fighting gravity. The heavier you are, the more you’ll have to exert yourself to lift your legs. This also goes hand in hand with how quickly your body uses oxygen. This goes back to what we were saying about having larger lungs; it’s not just one physical attribute that makes you a faster runner, it’s a lot of things combined.
Other Things That Affect Your Sprint Speed
As well as your genetic physical make up, which cannot be altered, there are things that affect how quickly you run that may be more within your control.
Your Running Gear
There is so much focus on wearing the right running shoes. It might seem like a minor thing, especially when you compare it to the physical aspects we have talked about but wearing appropriate running shoes can go towards increasing your speed.
This is largely because these shoes are far more comfortable so you’re not fighting against them and can concentrate on running. What’s more, they’re very lightweight so you won’t have any additional weight to carry, making you feel as light as air.
But it’s not just your running shoes that can affect your speed. Even the shirt on your back can make a difference. Again, your clothing should be as lightweight as possible at the same time as wicking away moisture. Staying comfortable will increase your speed so go for things like wool, polyester or Spandex.
Physical Strength And Endurance
You might have thought that this factor belonged back up there with genetics but that isn’t always the case. Yes, there are some people that are naturally stronger than others and have far greater stamina without even trying. But these are things you can change by engaging in workouts and exercises like HIIT, weight lifting and active sports.
The stronger your body is, the easier the mechanics of your body will function. This means that you will be able to keep going for longer, and in a sprint, that’s super important as you’ll need to build up speed and that takes endurance.
Can I Make Myself Run Faster?
The short answer is, yes, you can make yourself run faster. But it’s not possible to simply head to the sports track and expect to start hitting Usain Bolt type speeds without doing any work. He didn’t get to where he is today without training so us mere mortals could only dream about that. Here are some things you can do to improve your speed.
- Using the right running techniques is super important if you want to speed up. Make sure to keep your body relaxed and in an upright position. Your gait is also important; the best runners know that the midfoot should land directly below the hip while the arms move from front to back.
- If you are looking to run long distances, then there’s no point in trying to do this right off the bat. The best athletes will work on sprinting before they attempt anything longer.
- Interval training is a great way to work out and can improve your sprint speed. This is because it works on both speed and endurance through a series of high and low intensities.
- Make sure to include daily stretches as part of your workout routine. Not only will this help your running stride due to improved flexibility but it will also prepare your muscles and lessen the chance of injuries.
- You don’t have to stick to one type of running. In fact most people don’t have the time to be out every day but getting on the treadmill as often as possible is a great way to practice speed. You have the option to set your speed and you can work on this from the comfort of your own home.
- Any athlete will tell you about the importance of a core workout. This isn’t just about creating defined abs, working out your core improves your posture and as a result of this, you will be able to generate more force when running which translates into greater speed.
- If you want to try something a little different than just going to the gym, you could work out using rope jumping exercises. This will help limber up those feet and reaction times which goes a long way in increasing your overall sprint speed.
- When you run, you’re naturally going to use up more oxygen so it’s important to work on your breathing techniques. This will ensure that your body uses its oxygen most efficiently, sending it to your muscles that are doing all that hard work.
Over the years, we have seen many athletes breaking incredible records where sprint speed is concerned. While much of this is to do with genetics, getting up to and beyond 30km per hour isn’t something that’s reserved for the elite.
By employing the correct techniques and working out your body, it is possible to increase your sprint speed.