How Long Can the Average Person Run without Getting Tired? (Trained vs Untrained)

As a species, humans were born to be able to run. Our bodies have long, muscular limbs which are loaded with tendons and ligaments that act like springs. Even our ability to sweat aids in the act of running, keeping us from overheating as we lumber along. [source]

These adaptations give humans the ability to run longer distances at a slower pace rather than super-fast short sprints. Other animals are much faster over shorter distances. However, humans as a species can outrun many faster animals, even horses, if we are given enough time and space.

So how long can the average person run without getting tired? In general, it is noticeable that an average untrained person who goes out for a run will likely only be able to run for a short period of time before they get tired. The length of this time will vary from person to person, but most people new to running would cover less than a mile (1.6 Km) before needing to stop.

People who are used to a little running or who have an athletic background should be able to increase the distance they are able to cover before tiring. These athletes should have no problem running a mile or even more without stopping.

However, it should be noted that the length of time a person can run without getting tired depends quite a bit on how fast they are going. If one person starts running at 50% of their maximum effort, and another person with the same level of fitness starts running at 100% maximum effort, the first person will be able to run further than the 2nd person almost every time.

Our bodies are only able to run at full speed for a very short period

Keeping that in mind, if you are trying to test yourself to see how far you can run without stopping, start off at a slow pace. Once you have gone slow for a few minutes, you can allow yourself to speed up a little. However, make sure you don’t start running so fast that you are having a hard time catching your breath. You want to run at a pace where you could still hold a conversation with someone next to you without gasping for air. By keeping your pace slower, you will maximize the amount of time and distance you are able to run.

How Far Should a Healthy Person Be Able to Run? (With some Training)

With a little bit of training and preparation, a healthy person should be able to run for 20-30 minutes without stopping. For most people, running for that length of time would equate to around 3 miles (5 kilometers).

Getting to the point of being able to run for 30 minutes at a time is a key milestone for a beginner. The first few minutes of a run are the hardest. It’s during those moments of discomfort that most people decide they want to give up.

Once you’ve pushed past that first uncomfortable 5 minutes or so, that’s when the benefits of exercise really start. During the next 5-10 minutes, your body will start to switch into fat-burning mode. At that point, your body temperature and heart rate will begin to rise. You’ll begin to sweat and your breathing will start to speed up. If you’re not used to regular exercise, those increases in heart rate and respiration might initially feel a little strange. However, after your first few runs, you will get used to it.

The rest of the run is where the magic happens for most runners.

As long as you keep a steady pace, your heart rate and breathing will stabilize. The feelings of discomfort should fade away and you may find that you fall into a groove of sorts. Your body and mind will benefit from a boost of endorphins and hormones that are released as you continue to exercise. This is the part of running that few non-runners ever get to experience because they never let themselves push past the first few awkward minutes.

Also check out How Fast Do Olympic Runners Run? Men vs Women vs Average

How Can I Get Into Shape to Run Further?

The best way to get in shape to run further is to run more often. By going out and running on a regular basis, even if the runs are short your body will adapt quickly and you will be able to run further than you could previously. By getting into a routine of running 3-5 times per week, it is possible to build up enough endurance to be able to run much further.

In fact, most marathon training programs for beginners are built with that same frequency of weekly runs.

It also helps to insert regular walking breaks into the middle of your run. By alternating between running and walking, you are giving your system a chance to recover for a short time. These short rests will allow you to extend the distance that you are able to cover during the run.

A third tip to getting into better running shape is adding additional endurance sports such as cycling and swimming into your exercise routine.  Both of these sports are close enough to running that they offer the same benefits to the cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory (lungs) systems.

By incorporating either cycling, swimming or both into your regular weekly regimen, you can strengthen both of these systems and make it possible to be able to run further. 

Why Is Running Good for Health?

There are numerous health benefits associated with a regular running routine. Running builds lean strong muscles throughout the body, including your heart and lungs. It burns calories to help keep us from gaining weight and even burns fat to create fuel to keep your legs moving along.

In addition to these physical benefits, running can also help improve mental health. Regular exercise can boost your mood, create a positive self-image, and develop self-confidence. People with a regular running or exercise routine also tend to sleep better, have improved levels of concentration and fewer symptoms of depression.

In my post titled “Do Triathletes / Endurance Athletes Live Longer? Why!“, I talked about articles that show decreased incidents of cancer, especially colon and breast cancer, among people who are physically active 5 days a week or more. The higher the level of physical exertion, the more it seemed to be effective. Endurance athletes tend to live almost 6 years longer on average than those who don’t exercise.

How Can I Stay Motivated to Keep Running?

One of the other great benefits of running is the community that surrounds the sport. Many people find that once they start running, they soon connect with other people who run. Having a group of people in our lives who have similar interests and motivations can help to reinforce our healthy habits.

This is especially the case when we regularly participate in group runs and organized events. Just knowing that there are other people who are expecting us to show up can help to motivate us on days when we might otherwise be tempted to stay inside and skip a scheduled run.

The benefits of the social aspect of sports like running may be difficult to quantify, but cannot be ignored. Some of my greatest friends are people that I connected with through running clubs. These are people who I may never have met if it weren’t for running. Outside of our favorite sport, we may have very different interests and lifestyles. But through our common interest in running, we have built friendships that have lasted for decades.

Now you know how long the average person can run without getting tired, how you can run longer, and some of the health benefits of running.

It’s never too late to start building good habits, so why not strap on a pair of shoes and go out for a run today?

Brad Birky

Brad Birky is an endurance athlete and trained chef who has qualified for and completed the Boston Marathon as well as multiple Ironman distance triathlons

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