Basic Running Parameters,

Running Speed & Pace

Pace is one of the most commonly tracked statistics among all runners. Pace is the time period for running one-kilometer or mile.  Pace is given in unit of time per unit of distance, whereas speed is distance over time.

In order to calculate speed and pace all by yourself you need 2 formulas:

Speed ( km or mile)/hour  =   distance (km or mile) /time (hour)

Pace (min/km or mile)=   60 min/hour /speed(km or mile)/hour)

Speed ( km or mile)/min    =  60/pace

If you are running with a speed of 10 km/hour then your pace will be 6 min/km (60/10).  Vice versa if your pace is 5 min/km then your speed will be 12 km/hour.

Pace    =  60 / 10 = 6 min/km

Speed =  60 /  5  = 12 km / hour

Keep tracking your average running pace is a great way to monitor your progression and increased fitness while training. Plus, when you reach a new barrier—like the first time you run faster than a 6-minute/km, say 5:50-min/km for example—it allows you to search out new goals in your running journey, transfer the data to computer for further analysis.

Using one of the running watch one can easily see all these parameters instantly or if you run on a 400 meter track you can keep track of your time and calculate your pace and speed accordingly.

But defining an average running pace for all runners can be difficult; your speed varies based on several factors. Before we talk about average running pace, let’s touch on some of the many factors that can affect this statistic.


Cadence, or the number of steps runners take per minute, is a data point that’s calculated on many GPS watches, but no one knows quite what to do with it.

For decades now, we’ve been told that 180 steps per minute (SPM) is the ideal cadence for running-a number that legendary running coach Jack Daniels observed after counting the turnover rate of pro distance runners racing in the 1984 Olympics—but newer research has found that cadence rates vary greatly depending on runners’ speed, Middlebrook (2019).

As mentioned, cadence is the number of steps you take in a set amount of time, usually minute.  Running speed naturally is the product of your cadence or stride frequency and your stride length. 

Speed (meter/min)      = cadence (step/min)x stridelength (meter/steps)

Cadence between 170-190 would be perfectly ok for most runners. Your height, weight, leg and stride length and running ability will determine your optimal cadence. Also your training level, beginner to elite runner, determines your cadence and stride length.

Stride length and step length

Runners World June 2020 magazine Mateo (2020) defines stride length as the distance covered between the spot where one foot hits the ground and the next time that same foot hits the ground again.

There are a lot of variables that go into the equation, including your individual biometrics: your overall height, the length of your legs, and running biomechanics like your foot strike, says Erika Lee Sperl, a kinesiologist and high-performance sport consultant based in Los Angeles. “Some of the other variables that determine stride length are body weight, flexibility, and stiffness (or how much the joints of the foot, knee, and hip move during the running gait,” says Maschi. Plus, your stride length can change during a run, Maschi explains. As you go uphill, your steps tend to get shorter, and you take more of them. On the downhill, your steps will open up, and you’ll take fewer of them. When you generate more power, like during a sprint to the finish, your step length, cadence, or both can increase. And the more fatigued you get, the more your step length, cadence, or both usually decreases.

When we talk about the ideal cadence for runners, it is around 180 (+/- 10); increasing cadence will reduce loading on the knees, hips and lower back. Lower cadence are more likely to increase braking forces at foot strike, increase the heel striking angle, the vertical loading rate of the ground reaction force, etc.,  according to the literature review to date.

If done correctly, music can actually help runners with pacing while training. In a study published in PLoS One, runners performed better when the beat of the music matched their cadence than when they ran without music ( Grater, 2020). You may find and listen music or even metronom at any bpm on internet music and video sites.

Step length is the distance between the heel contact point of one foot and that of the other foot,

Stride length is the distance between the successive heel contact points of the same foot (Supakkul, 2017).

Normally, stride length = 2 x step length.

So Running speed = cadence x stride length/2.

But this might change according to the running watch perception and technologies

In running literature step frequency is the cadence and step length as stride length. If you take 180 step in a minute and average length of each step, left or right within this period is 1 meter than your distance covered in one minute will be :

Distance=180 step x 1 meter/step=180 meter

Your pace=  1.000/180  =5,55 min/km

And your speed =  ( 60)/5,55 = 10,8 km/hr

Extreme values for cadence and stride length

Ussain Bolt 100 meter world record, 9,58 secs, Berlin 2009:

Time was 9.58 seconds with average step frequency (cadence) 4.28 steps per second (257 steps per minute).  At the fastest 20m segment of the distance between 60-80m, where Bolt had the highest speed 12.42 m/s (44.7 km/h) with the step frequency (cadence) 4.4 steps per second (264 steps per minute) and only 41 strides to cover 100 meters, which means average 2.44 meter stride length per step.

Eliud Kipchoge: The World Record Breaking Race, in 2:01:39, Berlin Marathon 2018:

Kipchoge’s average cadence was 185 steps per minute with a stride/step length of 1.90 meters. This means he took a total of 22.505 steps during the marathon.