Monday, November 22, 2010

Yasso's 800s

For non-runners or beginning runners, a word of explanation. Yasso 800s are a specific work-out popularized by Bart Yasso. It's not only a great speed workout, but is also thought to be a good predictor for marathon finishing time. Specifically, it is thought that if a runner can complete ten 800 m (1/2 mile) intervals in the same minutes and seconds it will take them to complete the marathon in hours and minutes, they are on target for their race day goal time.

Say what? I know that last sentence was confusing. Let me give you an example. My goal marathon time is 4:15 (4 hrs, 15 minutes). So my goal for my Yasso 800s would be to complete 800m in 4 minutes and 15 seconds (ie 8:30 min/mile pace). Pretty cool, huh? (Obviously, this is in the context of a robust marathon training plan w/ appropriate long runs, etc.) I've seen various "recovery times/distances" b/t intervals. On the mill I do ~2-3 minutes recovery, but may change this to a 400 meter recovery (which is just about the same timing since my recovery pace will be 10:00min/mile).

I'm trying to incorporate a lot of what I'm learning in Matt Fitzgerald's book '"Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel" and one of the things he emphasizes is repetition of key work-outs so that you can monitor your improvement. I'm going to use Yasso 800s as one of these key work-outs and plan to do them once every 2 weeks.

So, how did it go today? Here's what I did:

1 mile w/u (9:23)

800 x 4 at 8:20 pace (which would be predictive of a 4:10 marathon finishing time)

That seemed too easy so next I did:

800 x 1 at 8:13 pace

Still too easy so I ran:

One whole mile at 8:13! Yippee!


last 800 at 8:07 pace

1 mile c/d at 9:23

Some random thoughts:

--It's gratifying to see how much I've improved. I ran an 8:13 mile barely out of breath! I remember a few years back I ran 1 mile all out to see what would happen and I was so out of breath, I couldn't possibly have run any longer or faster than I did and I produced an 8:15 mile. Today I did 8:13 comfortably! Improvement!

--I hate to say it, but I need to start jogging instead of speed walking for my recovery time b/t intervals. I now have running speeds at which I'm not all all short of breath. Bummer, because walking always seems easier than running!

--I need to keep the treadmill at 0.5 incline, otherwise it's going to be a rude awakening when I go back to doing speed work outside next spring!

--I'm thinking ahead to my next marathon training plan (to start in 2/11), wondering whose plan to use. I'm going to look into the FIRST plan I hear so much about. I'd like to seriously consider the Galloway run/walk method because I really do benefit mentally from walk breaks but I just don't know. I think it's a great idea for those it works for but I think I might feel like less of a runner. I don't think people who run/walk are lesser runners AT ALL but I might judge myself differently. I run marathons, saying I run/walk marathons doesn't have the same ring to it.

Okay, I must be off to bed. Another 4:30 am wake-up call tomorrow to get a work-out in before work....


  1. Nice job on those yassos! Next year I am going to do more of the speed workouts to help me with my shorter distance goals:) It is such a reward when we know that we are improving....way to go!

  2. I feel your pain - I hit the gym early this morning. I have to admit that there's a part of me that doesn't like taking walk breaks - my running partner needs them, so we do them, but I feel sometimes like that messes with me mentally in terms of sustained running on my own.

    On the other hand, I am not particularly fast, and probably never will be. I enjoy running and I want to keep doing it until I am 90, and so perhaps discretion is the better part of valor in this case. I don't know - like you, I would never judge another person who felt they needed the breaks but I am rather hard on myself for taking it. Hmmm... weren't we just talking about this the other day? :)

    I have never done Yasso's - maybe it's time to start!

  3. Great job on the Yasso's. I did them for the first time with my last round of marathon training. I really enjoyed the change of pace from logging longer runs. I always just slow jogged a 400m recovery, in roughly the same amount of time as my 800's took to complete.