Now that many are beginning to think about fall races, some of which may be a half or full marathon, we return to a workout that has become a staple in many training plans.
Yasso 800s – so named after Bart Yasso of Runner’s World fame who is said to have ‘invented’ it – refer to a workout in which the goal is to run multiple 800m repeats. The idea is to run them (usually between six and ten) all in the same amount of time with an equal amount of rest in between. Some argue that if done right, this workout is an accurate predictor of marathon performance wherein the (average) time it takes to complete the 800s (in minutes and seconds) will roughly correspond to the time you could run a marathon (in hours and seconds).
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E.g. If you’re able to run the 800s in 3 minutes and 30 seconds each, you should also be able to run an upcoming marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes*
A good way to approach this is to do the workout early in the season (i.e. now) and aim to complete 6 x 800m. Then do it again in a month or so completing 8 x 800m to assess your progress. Finally, about two weeks before your goal race, do the workout once more aiming to complete the full 10 x 800m.
The workout is best done on a standard 400m track. Be sure to warm up before you begin and also consider adding some dynamic running stretches and a few strides before you begin.
Once you’re ready to go, run 800m (two laps of the track) at the fastest pace you think you can maintain for the entire session. You don’t want to run the first ones too fast or you’ll fade later on. As a general rule, start around 10KP and pick it up or slow down slightly depending on how you feel. For rest, you should recover for approximately the same amount of time it took to run the last 800m interval. Running two easy laps (800m) between intervals is also a more convenient option.
*A few notes about this workout. Firstly, if your goal race is a marathon, you’ll still need to do the necessary training including logging the mileage and completing longs runs. Just being able to run 800m repeats fast is not a predictor of a fast marathon time. Also note that the times predicted by the workout tend to be a bit generous/liberal and may overestimate one’s fitness. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers.