One of the biggest questions that runners have is “How fast should I be running?” Obviously a 5 mile recovery run requires a different pace than 1/2 mile intervals, a 20 mile long run or a 200 meter sprint. Most of the time people just adjust their pace based on perceieved exertion. You run your long run “easy” and you run your intervals “hard.” The McMillan Running Company came up with a handy online calculator that helps take the guesswork out both your training pace an your race pace.
If you have a recent race time, you can enter it into the McMillan Pace Calculator and it will tell you what your pace should be at various distances, including training runs and races. For example, if you recently ran a 45 minute 10k, McMillan estimates that you could run a 6:15.2 mile, a 21:40 5k, a 1:40:08 half marathon and a 3:31.11 marathon. Obviously if you aren’t training for a marathon you couldn’t go out and suddenly bust out a a 3:31 marathon without having run more than 6 miles, but hypothetically if you were to train for marathon, you could expect a 3:31.11.
Turkey Trotting to a Sub 3:50 Marathon?
I personally have found the McMillan Pace Calculator to be pretty freakishly accurate at estimating my times. For example, after I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon in April with a time of 1:52:21, McMillan guessed I’d run a 4:01:10 marathon. I ran a 4:02:00 marathon in June.
As I’ve mentioned before, my “A” goal for the Surf City Marathon in February is to crack 4 hours. My “B”goal has been to aim for a 3:50:00 marathon. I’ve been using this goal to calculate my Yasso 800s intervals. According to the running gurus of McMillan, my Thanksgiving Day 5k time of 23:55 predicts that I will run a 3:53:09 marathon (and that I can run a 1:50:33 half marathon). Certainly the marathon prediction using my half marathon time was a better indicator since it is a race that is closer in distance, but I’m still looking at this as a indicator that my Sub-4 dreams can become a reality and that I may even come close to my 3:50 goal.
Using McMillan to Train
McMillan’s pace calculator is good for more than giving you hope that you can achieve a certain race time (or crushing your dreams that it isn’t possible). It can also give you a guide for paces during speed workouts, long runs, and more. Here’s a sample of some of my key workout paces:
- Long Run Pace: 9:24 – 10:24 (recently most long runs have been in the mid-low 9s)
- Easy Run Pace: 9:24 – 9:54
- Tempo Run Pace: 8:27-8:41
- 800 Meter Speed Workout: 3:39-3:49 minutes (right on target for my Yasso 800s which I do in 3:50 intervals)
- 100 Meter Sprint: 22.2 – 24.2 seconds
Another way to use the McMillan Pace Calculator is to input your desired race time and use the paces it spits out to train. However, this is not recommended if your race goal is unrealistic. If you currently run a 4 hour marathon and then input a marathon time of 3 hours as your goal, it probably won’t feel easy to run at the “easy run” pace and therefore it will be ineffective to train at this level. Since my goal marathon time of 3:49:59 is fairly close to my predicted marathon time of 3:53:09, when I entered 3:50:00 as my actual time, it revises some of my training times, but not by much:
- Long Run Pace: 9:17 – 10:17
- Easy Run Pace: 9:17-9:47
- Tempo Run Pace: 7:59-8:20
- 800 Meter Speed Workout: 3:36-3:46 minutes (this contradicts the Yasso philosophy that my race goal time of 3:50 means I should be running 3 minute 50 second 800 intervals)
- 100 Meter Sprint: 21.9 – 24.1 seconds
It seems to me that I’m right on track with my training. Asia and I have consistently been doing our long runs in the 9:20-9:30 range and soon we will add tempo runs to the end of our long runs. I’ve also been doing my Yasso 800s each week (except recovery week) at 3:40 intervals (this week I’ll be up to 7 of them!). Considering that Half Ironman training starts next week and the marathon will not be my “A” race of the year, I think that this is a good effort to tackle my sub 3:50 goal. If it doesn’t happen at this race, I have plenty of time to make it happen AFTER the Ironman.
Have you found that the McMillan Pace Calculator is accurate for you? How do you determine your pace for your workouts?