The McMillan Running Calculator — The Best Kept Running Secret

The McMillan Running Calculator

There are lots of tools out on the net webs (man I love calling the Internet that) that claim to help you improve your running speed. Supplements, equipment, and even online coaches all seems to contain that secret ingredient to help you squeeze that last little bit of extra speed from your body. While companies that sell each of these are interested in separating you from your hard earned cash, they may or may not work. But I have one secret that I have used for years that has helped me plan my run pacing for intervals, tempo, recovery, and 400 repeats. I have also used it to help me select an appropriate pace strategy for many races based on the times that I am able to maintain during my runs leading up to the race.

The McMillan Running Calculator is a free resource that is available here. This is a free resource — that’s right, I said free. Greg McMillan may have one of the best sites available on the net webs (it just gets funnier) that is related to getting you to reach your running potential. There is so much information on his site on performance, training, nutrition, and everything related to running that you literally could spend hours and hours there educating yourself at the feet of one of the smartest running coaches around.

Back to the calculator though. While you can use it as a predictor, the example I am going to use will be to determine what paces I need to hold during key workouts to hit a 3:30 marathon, which is one of my goals for the summer of 2011. Here is an image of the calculator and its inputs:

So to determine the paces I need to hold during key workouts to achieve my goal of a 3:30 marathon, I tick the Marathon bubble, and where it indicates Hours, Minutes, and Seconds I input a 3:30. I also input my email address of The amount of information the calculator kicks out is amazing and will help guide my training for the rest of the winter. Remember this is a free resource and you can use it any number of times. Here is what it indicates for a 3:30 marathon (notice it does not say I have to get back down to 175 lbs., which makes me happy):

The top half of the chart shows me what I should be able to do in other distances. For example, if I want to run a 3:30 marathon, I should be able to run a 1:39 1/2 marathon, which I have done several times. A 44:45 10K is also something I can regularly achieve with the right amount of training. Both of those numbers are reasonable, so I pass the first test.

The second set of criteria is also important. Look at the box on the right that is titled “Speed Workouts”. This table gives me a fantastic range of times for several distances, but to a 2K. I can reasonable hit most of those, with the exception of the 2K because I haven’t ever tested at that distance. So I pass the second test.

Ahh, then there are the two meatiest tables: the “Endurance Workouts” and “Stamina Workouts” tables. This information is so important to your training. It gives you the pace that you should hold during different workouts in preparation for a 3:30 marathon. So now you know what recovery runs, long runs, and easy runs should look like pace-wise. The McMillan Running Calculator also provides you with the pace for your tempo and interval runs. Seriously, you may pay your coach a lot of money to get this same information out of them. The benefit a coach brings to the table is they will help you format an appropriate workout schedule using this information. There is value to hiring a coach or purchasing a training plan — don’t get me wrong.

In any case, this is one of the most outstanding tools available to runners on the net webs (I threw it in there again). It is a free resource that you can use again and again if you want. I strongly suggest if you are a running rookie or if your closet has 10 pairs of running shoes in it (that group knows that I am talking about) you use this resource to help fine tune your training program.

One Last Plug

Seriously people — make sure you check back in on Monday. The contest rules and prize have all be finalized and you will want to come back for this one. Remember my last contest? The one where I gave away a Garmin? Stephanie Anne from Run to Health won that one and look how happy it made her…

Now it is your turn. Get back here on Monday to find out how to get involved.

Type: Intervals
Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 30:20
Average Pace: 7:23 min/mile
Average Heart Rate: 158 bpm

This was a fantastic workout that I would recommend to everyone. I used it to test my fitness levels and find out how ready I may or may not be for a 20:xx 5K that I want to run in January. I came away from this workout feeling pretty confident that I will be able to throw down a new PR then. I have lots of work between now and then, but my goal is in sight. Here is how it all went down:

I warmed up for one mile at an 8:00/mile pace. The pace wasn’t easy, but entirely sustainable. At that point I kicked my pace up to a 6:45/mile pace for the next half mile. From 1.5 to 2.0 miles I backed it off back to the 8:00/mile pace. I then repeated that interval pattern until the end of mile 4.0. The pace at 6:45/mile was tough to sustain, but not out of reach. I am a little sore. I think tomorrow my legs will be tighter than normal, but nothing that a good workout on the bike won’t cure.

Today I felt smooth and I felt fast. I know I am not as quick as some of you, but man it is good to get my stride back, even little by little. Finally.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...