The Magic Mile is a running pace calculator developed by world-renowned running coach, author and former Olympic runner Jeff Galloway. Magic Mile is a simple yet effective tool that helps runners determine their optimal running pace and is used by thousands of runners around the world.
In this article, we’ll discuss the Magic Mile and how it can be used to help you become a better runner.
Who is Jeff Galloway?
Before we dive in, let’s get to know the creator of this whole method.
Jeff Galloway is a renowned American distance runner and author who has made a significant impact on the running community. He is best known for his run-walk-run method, a training strategy that has helped millions of runners of all levels reach their goals.
Jeff Galloway is known for being a first-time competitor in elite-level marathons and long-distance events, including the Olympics. Since then, he has been a dedicated coach and motivator for over four decades.
He has written several best-selling books on running, including Marathon. you can do it.” and Galloway’s Book on Running, which provide comprehensive training plans and practical advice for runners of all abilities.
Galloway’s run-walk-run method is designed to help runners prevent injury, maintain their energy levels and avoid burnout. This approach involves alternating periods of running and walking during training or racing, allowing the runner to recover and conserve energy.
This method has proven to be very effective, especially for beginners who may not have the physical stamina to run for long periods of time.
What is the Magic Mile Calculator?
The Magic Mile is a time trial that ends at 1 mile.
For this time trial, you run at a moderately hard effort. Not a sprint, but not your easy pace.
And if you run/walk, that’s totally fine. You will just try to push yourself more than usual.
The time it takes to complete the mile is then used to calculate your running pace, which is the time it takes to run one mile at a certain speed. This pace can then be used to determine your ideal running pace for different distances such as 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
Magic Mile accuracy is based on the steady state running principle.
This usually means running at a pace that is sustainable for long periods of time without causing fatigue or needing to slow down. It’s not about keeping the same pace, it’s about keeping the same effort.
During steady-state running, your heart rate and breathing should remain relatively steady and steady. This type of exercise is often referred to as easy jogging to build endurance and improve cardiovascular fitness. Especially useful for long-distance running events like a half marathon or marathon, where maintaining a consistent pace is critical to finishing the race.
But let’s be honest, even shorter distances like 5K and 10K require us to learn how to put in a consistent effort. However, for our mile test, we fall into that uncomfortable pace.
How to use Magic Mile results
The Magic Mile is a simple yet effective way to determine your optimal running pace.
By knowing your pace, you can adjust your training program to meet your goals.
Here’s what to do when you get your results, and below we outline exactly how to take the Magic Mile test.
Please note that as a running coach with over a decade of experience, I still do not find the meters to be super accurate. Instead, they should be used as a general guide and you should work to learn running with perceived effort.
#1 Take the Magic Mile Test.
As mentioned, this involves riding a mile-long trial (or 1.6 km) fairly hard and then recording your time. Specific tips for doing this well are listed in the next section.
If you already run/walk, you will still take your walking breaks. You’ll probably be faster by pushing through sprints than by trying to run without breaks.
#2 Connect your data to Magic Mile calculation
You can go to the Jeff Galloway website and enter your Magic Mile time into the Magic Mile calculator or quickly learn to calculate it yourself with this formula.
- Add 33 seconds to your magic mile for your fastest 5K
- Multiply your magic mile time by 1.15 for 10K pace
- Multiply your magic mile time by 1.175 at 10 mph
- Multiply your magic mile time by 1.2 for half marathon pace
- For marathon pace, multiply your magic mile time by 1.3
#3 Compare to previous race times
If you’ve run the race before, compare your Magic Mile results to your previous finish times. This will give you an idea of your progress and help you set realistic goals for future races.
Also, if you’ve run a race recently, but it wasn’t close to the recommended time, then you know that the other calculations probably don’t fit well either.
#4 Adjust your training
Now that you’ve calculated your various race paces, you can start using them for training and race planning.
For example, during a long run, you can start to include a mile at your half-marathon pace. Slowly progressing this through the training cycle. Or maybe you start training at your 5K pace because it will make you faster in half and full marathons.
Look no further for a complete guide to the jog-walk-jog method >>
A step-by-step guide to completing the Magic Mile
Are you ready to take your test? Don’t let the idea that it’s a mile scare you. We’re going to break it down and make it super easy to fill out and get your numbers.
You don’t have to take your test on the track. However, it is often the easiest way to find a flat surface that you can use consistently to test yourself again in the future.
Testing can be done on roads, pavements or a track. Just know that if you have headlights or a lot of turns or hills, it will affect your time. On the track you will spend 4 laps, check our a beginner’s track guide if you are nervous about using a public track.
Step 1: Preparation
Before starting the Magic Mile Test, it is important to warm up properly.
- Perform a dynamic warm-up to fully loosen tight areas, increase blood flow, and prevent injury
- Walk for 5-10 minutes to further relax the body
- Try running some light strides and light jogs
- A total of 10-15 minutes of warm-up
With all that said, you’re officially ready to start your mile test.
Step 2: Deadline:
The Magic Mile Time Trial requires a timing device such as a stopwatch, GPS watch, or smartphone app.
In general, I recommend that all our athletes get even an entry-level GPS watch. It makes planning your future run/walk intervals much easier and is going to make this test easier too. Yes, I recommend them over Apple or FitBit.
After you have finished warming up, make sure the GPS has a satellite.
Start the timer when you start working.
Step 3: Start running or walking
Start running at a moderate pace, not too fast or too slow. Learning how to briskly walk 1 mile for a hard effort will take some practice, so don’t be surprised if the first one doesn’t go perfectly.
- If you’re walking right now, that’s perfectly fine. Really push for power walking.
- Or use your current run/walk intervals and just think of this effort as a 7-8 on a scale of 10. Your normal easy run should be 4 and 10 is a sprint that you can only do for 20 seconds.
- Do your best not to slow down, but know that it happens to all of us when we figure out the speed.
Step 4: Keeping pace
It is important to maintain a steady pace throughout the mile. Don’t start too fast and slow down as this will affect the accuracy of the results.
Instead, remember that you want to start the effort feeling a little uncomfortable, then try to hold on. Be aware that the longer you go, the harder this pace will be. So do your best to hang on.
Some runners like to break it up into quarter-mile segments. It gives you some time to think about training instead of looking at the whole mile.
Step 5: Finishing the Mile
Keep pushing until you pass the one mile mark. Don’t let yourself start slowing down because it’s getting closer!! This is like practicing the finish line kick.
Once you cross the marker, stop the timer. Tada, you have your official Magic Mile time.
Step 6: Cool
No matter how you feel, don’t sit down right away. A sudden drop in HR is not great for the body and can cause a number of problems including cramps.
Instead, walk around slowly. Grab something to drink and pat yourself on the back.
After a bit, you can also decide to jog or run/walk another mile to just shake things up.
Step 7: Record the results
Record your Magic Mile time and test date. This will allow you to track your progress over time.
Trust me, you’ll want to own this record. I like to keep a chart of all my workouts because it’s so easy to look back. But you may prefer an app like Garmin Connect or just good old pen and paper.
However you do it, record it!!
Step 8: Repeat the test
Repeat the Magic Mile Test every 4-6 weeks to track your progress and track any improvements.
To be honest, I’ve been time trialling miles for the past year, not to hook up to a meter, but because I know that running at this speed improves my overall running.
In addition to determining your optimal running pace, Magic Mile can also be used to monitor your progress over time.
By completing the Magic Mile at regular intervals, you can track your improvement and see how your pace changes as you become a stronger and faster runner. This can be a great motivator and can help you stick with your study plan.
Hopefully this helped explain the process and is a tool for you to figure out your target race pace.
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