What Speed Is Considered Running? Running Vs Jogging Vs Walking Vs Sprinting!

One of the things I love the most about the sport of running is there isn’t really a strict structure around it. When I want to go for a run, all I need to do is step out the door. There’s no need to ask around and find a team of people to play with, or even another person or team to compete against. Running can happen inside on a treadmill or track, or out on the road or a trail. Runs can be solo excursions, or they can be a group effort.

When I’m running, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I choose to go. To me, as long as I’m moving forward while my legs are churning and my arms are pumping, then I am running. There are terms that we hear about such as jogging and sprinting, but those are really just variations of running. Jogging is running slowly and sprinting is running quickly. For the purposes of this article, we will consider running to be anything between a jog and a sprint.

So what speed is considered running? Running is often considered to be speeds between 6 miles (10km) per hour and 10 miles (16km) per hour. In terms of pace, this translates to 9:40 minutes/mile or 6 minutes/Km to 6 minutes/mile or 3:45 minutes/Km

That is a general guideline, however. The actual speed of running depends on the individual. For some people, running speeds could start at 5 miles per hour. For others, like those who are at the top of the major marathon leaderboards, what they would consider to be running could be as fast as 12 miles per hour. It all comes down to how much talent, experience, and strength each person has.

What Is the Difference Between Jogging and Running?

Jogging is the slowest version of running. So while there really is no difference between the two, that does not mean they are the same thing. It is the perceived effort that you feel during the exercise that determines whether one is running or jogging.

Jogging should feel very easy and will not cause the heart rate to climb too high or cause you to run short of breath. A jog is not strenuous and should feel like it could continue for quite a while without making you tired. Running is just beyond the point of easy exercise, yet it is still short of hard effort. While on a run, one should be breathing a little harder and have a slightly higher pulse. Running should be more difficult than jogging but easier than sprinting.

Lots of runners like to employ something called the “talk test” when they are trying to determine if they are going too slow or too fast

This basic test goes like this: if you can easily hold a conversation with another person while you are in the middle of a workout, then you are going at an easy pace, aka jogging. However, if you are struggling to talk without panting or gasping for breath every few words, then you are pushing yourself well into the “running” zone.

I mentioned earlier that experience can make a difference when it comes to jogging speed versus running speed. Let’s use my own history as an example. When I first started running over 20 years ago, my average speed on a training run was right around 6 miles per hour. I knew I was running and not jogging, because I could only hold that speed for a limited length of time. As I ran, I was breathing hard, and I was sweating. Over the years, I found that as I expended that same amount of effort, my speed gradually increased. Eventually, 6 mph became my jogging pace, and my average training speed became closer to 8 mph.

On a side note, we recommend that you check out our posts titled Can You Be Naturally Good at Running? (Contributing Factors!) & Is It Better To Run More Often or Longer? Which One You Should Do & How!

What Speed Is Considered Jogging & Walking?

The casual walking speed for most people is between 2-4 miles (3-6km) per hour. Jogging would generally be considered any running that is slower than 6 miles (10km) per hour.

The major difference between jogging and walking is the position of the feet

During a jog or a run, there are moments when both feet are off the ground at the same time. While walking, one foot or the other is always in contact with the ground. Because of this, walking has a much lower impact on the ankles and knees. This makes it a more popular choice for those who suffer from joint pain. 

So you see, it’s not really speed that defines whether someone is walking or jogging. In fact, there are some speed walkers who move faster at a “walk” than many of us could ever run. (Source)

Walking by itself is an amazing form of exercise, and its health benefits are often overlooked. According to the Mayo Clinic, developing a walking habit can strengthen your muscles and bones, help you lose weight and body fat, and can even help prevent chronic health conditions. (Source)

Walking also has the added benefit of being easier on your joints and feet than many other sports. I’m still a big proponent of running, but there’s nothing wrong with adding some walking into your regular running routine!

Also, check out “How Long Can the Average Person Run without Getting Tired? (Trained vs Untrained)

Is It Better to Run or Jog to Losing Weight?

Running is more efficient than jogging when it comes to losing weight. More calories are burned per minute during a run because of the higher amount of energy required. I would argue that even though running is more efficient than jogging for burning calories, jogging may be the better choice. Because jogging is easier on the body than running, it’s possible to jog for longer stretches of time than if one were running.

So even though running burns more calories than jogging for the same length of time, jogging for longer will end up burning more calories. Jogging is less intimidating than running because it isn’t as taxing on the body, which means more people will be willing to incorporate it into their weight loss routine.

Another reason that jogging may be a better choice is the choice of fuel that it targets

When running, the body tends to choose carbohydrates and simple sugars as its preferred source of energy. These types of calories come from foods that have been recently ingested and have not yet been fully processed by the digestive system. Jogging, however, tends to use stored fats as its preferred fuel source. As a result, the body is getting rid of excess fats while it burns through those calories.

What Speed Is Considered Sprinting?              

Sprinting is running at its fastest and can only be maintained for short periods of time. The speeds of average sprinters can range from 12 miles (19km) per hour to 16 miles (26km) per hour. These speeds are where most of us will be building up so much lactic acid in our muscles that it is impossible to run for more than a few minutes.

In non-scientific language, that means our legs will get really tired, really quickly. Sprint races are usually held on a track and are less than a mile in length. Examples are the 100m, 200m, 400, and possibly even the 800m. In the Olympics, the athletes who medal in these events will reach speeds of 16-26 miles (25-45 km) per hour. Even these superb athletic specimens such as Usain Bolt are limited in the length of time that they can hold such an extreme pace. (Source)

So that’s the breakdown of the different types of running and their associated speeds. More importantly than the speed itself, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your feet don’t leave the ground, you are walking. If they do but it feels easy, you’re jogging. If it’s a little bit hard and you are struggling to hold a conversation, you’re running. And you know you’re sprinting when you are gasping for breath and can barely take another step.

But really it doesn’t matter whether you are walking, jogging, running or sprinting. As long as you are out there using your feet to propel yourself forward, you are making progress.

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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