There comes a point in every runner’s career when you want to begin to take your training more seriously.
There’s a desire to improve race times, running economy, and paces.
This is the point where your training plan becomes more specific, you become more interested in data and splits, and you look for the best ways to improve effectively.
So, you want to take this step, but where do you start? How do you know at which specific paces you should train at or expect to hold during your next race?
The Jeff Galloway Magic Mile test.
We are going to get you started by looking at the following in this article:
- Who is Jeff Galloway?
- What is the Magic Mile test?
- What are the benefits of taking the Magic Mile test?
- Where should you take the Magic Mile test?
- How to take the Magic Mile test.
- Magic Mile race pace calculator and conversions.
- Alternative time trial tests.
Let’s start getting serious about our training and jump in!
Who is Jeff Galloway?
Jeff Galloway is an incredibly influential running figure who has inspired and helped thousands upon thousands of people with their training.
He participated in the Olympics in 1972 in 10,000 meters and was a United States 10-mile record-holder.
In the 70’s he also founded one of the first specialty running stores where runners could get advice and take a look at the newest gear.
He is also a well-known running coach, author, and creator of the run-walk-run method.
Along with this method, he also created a simple, quick running test that can provide us with specific training and race information: The Magic Mile.
What is the Magic Mile?
The Magic Mile is a running test developed by Jeff Galloway that involves running 1 mile at at high intensity – though not ‘all out’.
It measures your current fitness level, predicts race times, and provides a specific long-run training pace.
Taking this test will allow you to:
- determine your race pace goal realistically.
- easily track your progress.
- recover quickly compared to extended time trials that can cause fatigue and require additional recovery days.
Where should I run the Magic Mile?
On A 400-meter Track
Ideally, a track would be the best place to perform the magic mile.
GPS devices are known to fail at times and can be inaccurate in short distances. To ensure your result is as precise as possible, run the 4 laps in the inner lane of the track.
On A One-Mile Loop
Ensure this mile is measured precisely because seconds of variation on your total mile time will significantly affect the outcome and the paces. The loop should be flat and without any obstacles that may force you to stop.
If you decide to run the magic mile test in this fashion, mark each 400-meter segment. You will need this information to properly pace your time trial and later see improvement.
The goal is to always run negative splits, even though it can be quite a challenge. Negative splits are when you speed up as you advance through each section of the run.
Do not take this test on a treadmill, as the data can vary greatly. Treadmills are often not properly calibrated and can read more or less distance than you are actually running. This can throw off your test time significantly.
At what effort level should I run the Magic Mile?
In general, running tests are difficult to gauge, especially for beginners.
As you take more and more time trials, you will become better at dominating your paces and knowing just how hard to push.
This test is not an “all-out” effort, but a very hard effort.
Think about 8 out of 10 RPE – the idea is that you should be running the fastest pace you can maintain over the full mile.
When starting Magic Miles, you want to go at a more comfortable pace, then increase the intensity with each MM effort.
When running your very first magic mile test, run only a little faster than your average running pace. Your breathing should be labored, but it is a sustainable effort that you should hold for about another 200 meters after completing the mile.
How to Perform the Magic Mile
- Warm-up: Jog for 10-15 minutes at a comfortable pace. During the last 5 minutes, do a few 10-second strides, or gradual accelerations, to get your cadence up and your legs moving.
2. Do 5 minutes of dynamic stretching exercises to complete your warm-up.
3. Run one mile at a hard effort.
4. If you are going to include walk breaks during the test, take 30-45 second walk breaks each quarter mile.
5. Record your total mile time.
6. Cool down with a light jog or walk for 10 minutes.
Tips When Running the Magic Mile
- Be sure to set a maintainable pace where you will not burn out during the first laps. It’s always best to run the first lap the slowest and gradually speed up as you advance.
- Walk breaks are optional. If you can take the test without a walk break, by all means do so!
- Press the lap button on your watch after each 400-meters for later revision and ease with future pacing.
Now that you have your result, you are ready to plug it into the Magic Mile calculator and get your pacing data!
How to use your Magic Mile Results
Plug in your time to the following Jeff Galloway Magic Mile Calculator to see your predicted 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon paces. You will also be able to see your average long-run training pace.
These paces are calculated with the following formulas:
- 5k race pace: Add 33 seconds to your magic mile result.
- 10k race pace: Multiply your magic mile result by 1.15.
- Half marathon pace: Multiply your magic mile result by 1.2.
- Marathon pace: Multiply your magic mile result by 1.3.
- Long run pace: Multiply your magic mile result by 1.3 + 2 minutes
Note: These paces can be affected by the weather, more specifically, the heat.
60ºF is the ideal running temperature to achieve these calculated paces. However, Jeff Galloway suggests that if it is warmer, tack on 30 seconds to your mile time for every 5ºF in heat.
Let’s take a look at an example of a 9:00 min Magic Mile test result. Here you will see the predicted finish times, pace, and example run/walk strategies to try out.
|Magic Mile Finish Time: 9:00 minutes||Minutes/Mile||Run/Walk Strategy Example|
|5k race pace||9:33||45 seconds run / 15 seconds walk|
|10k race pace||10:21||60 seconds run / 20 seconds walk|
|10 mile race pace||10:34||90 seconds run / 30 seconds walk|
|Half marathon pace||10:48||30 seconds run / 30 seconds walk|
|Marathon pace||11:42||40 seconds run / 20 seconds walk|
|Long run pace at 60ºF||13:42||30 seconds run / 30 seconds walk|
|Long run pace at 70ºF||14:42||30 seconds run / 30 seconds walk|
Magic Mile Test Progressions
At first, taking this test will be challenging to gauge. It is common to either burn out on the first try for going out too strong or, even more commonly, finish and feel like you could have given more.
As you take the magic mile test periodically, you will become better and better at pacing yourself and understanding just how much you can push during that mile. You want to get as close as possible to feel you finished with just enough energy to run about 200 meters more.
Take the magic mile test every month to see how you are improving and adjust your race paces.
Factors that Will affect a magic mile test
There are several factors that can affect the outcome of any time trial test. These need to be taken into consideration when testing, as a faulty reading could be discouraging. If this were to happen, reschedule the Magic Mile for another day when conditions are ideal.
- Weather: If the temperature is hot and/or humid, this can slow down your pace.
- Fatigue: Be sure and plan this test after 2 days of easier workouts to not run tired.
- Burnout: Start out at a pace you can hold; do not sprint!
- Traffic: Choose a route or track where you will enjoy an uninterrupted run.
The Cooper Test
There are other running tests to figure out your fitness level, such as the Cooper test.
Instead of basing your test on a specific distance, this one is based on time. The Copper test asks you to cover as much distance as possible over 12 minutes. After finishing the 12 minutes, this distance is input into a formula to calculate your Vo2 Max.
Using this data, you can see into which fitness category you fall with your current Vo2 Max and base your training on the result distance.
You can also take a look into the Jack Daniel’s VDOT running calculator for another option to calculate your paces.
Why Take Tests?
No matter which test you decide to use, the results will point you in the right direction for your goal setting, training, and racing. Choosing unrealistic goals based on what you “want” to achieve or think you can achieve can become highly frustrating.
When you can’t hit your paces training, nor racing, demotivation becomes an essential factor. In addition, trying to push paces that are not your own can increase your risk of injury.
Set realistic goals and train hard for them. You will improve much more efficiently training at your own, attainable paces than pushing something you are not ready for. And you will be so thrilled when you cross that finish line, having achieved your goal!
So, take a test, figure out those paces, and go for your gold!