Optimal and Non-Optimal Running Speed

“… each individual has an optimal pace at which he or she can cover the greatest distance with the least effort.”

Also from the article:

The most efficient running speed determined in the study varied between individuals but averaged about 8.3 miles per hour for males and 6.5 miles per hour for females….

Interestingly, the slowest speeds — around 4.5 miles per hour, or about a 13-minute mile — were the least metabolically efficient … both a very fast walk and a very slow run can feel physically awkward.

The obvious conclusion is that a long-distance runner should try to find her own best pace for optimal performance.

A less obvious conclusion might be that if you want to lose weight and burn off lots of calories, go at an “awkward” pace that’s between walking and running (“4.5 miles per hour, or about a 13-minute mile”), because it’s metabolically INefficient! (Not that I’m recommending it — one might get injured.)

Published in: on 3 April 2009 at 8:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting blog. Your topic caught my eye. Would you come to my blog and vote in my poll? I’d like to see if there are more short or long distant runners out there. You’ll find it at my “Today’s Run” page at:

    Thank you,


  2. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Chris. Actually, I’m not a runner; this post was for a friend of mine who’s participating in a triathlon (to be held in St. Anthony’s, FL, on April 26; fund raising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). I myself am actually something of a couch potato. So, I don’t think it would be a good idea to vote in your poll, since I’m neither a short or long distance runner: I would just be adding random noise to the poll. That said, my guess is that if I WERE a runner, I would probably end up being a long distance runner.



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