Browsing through the speed workouts on a marathon or half marathon training plan often feels like you’re reading a different language. With terms like Fartlek, VO2 max, high intensity, 5k pace, and tempo, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Are there any uncomplicated marathon training speed workouts?
Yasso 800s are a simple, effective speed workout.
Although the name might sound a bit funky, the Yasso 800 workout is actually quite a simple concept. Even more, it’s a great predictor of your marathon time and proven very effective when it comes to increasing fitness for long distance running.
This workout is famously named after the great Bart Yasso, former editor of Runner’s World, distance runner extraordinaire, and unofficially referred to as the “Mayor of Running”. Yasso 800s have become a popular speed workout for all runners.
Yasso 800s are a great speed workout for any runner, but can be especially helpful when it comes to marathon training.
Related: 6 Essential Marathon Training Speed Workouts
What should my marathon goal be?
Navigating marathon training can feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning. As you sit down to create or find a training plan, one of the first questions you’ll find yourself asking is how fast you should be running and what your goal should be.
Unless you already have a few marathons under your belt, setting a marathon goal feels a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Just because you can run a 5k at a certain pace does not mean you’ll be able to sustain that same pace for 26. On the other hand, if you don’t set high goals for yourself, you might not push hard enough during training – right?
Yasso 800s are a great workout to help narrow down your marathon goal time, while simultaneously increasing your fitness. These 800 meter repeats are the perfect addition to a training plan for any distance.
What is the Yasso 800 workout?
This workout is one of the simplest, least complicated speed workouts you can try. Yasso 800s are simple: run an 800 meter interval followed by a period of recovery, and then repeat.
How to Run Yasso 800s
Although this workout is fairly straightforward and simple, there are a few details that are worth covering to really help you reap the benefits in your training.
Distance running often feels more complicated than it should with so many distances being measured in different units. Between meters, kilometers and miles, it can be hard to fully understand your speed workouts without some converting or mental math.
What is 800 meters on the treadmill, track and outdoors?
800 meters is equivalent to half a mile. On the track, each lap is 400 meters, or a quart mile, in length. When running Yasso 800s on the track, you’ll need to run two laps around the track to complete your 800 meter interval.
On the treadmill, simply run half a mile or 800 meters in distance, depending on the unit of measurement. Similarly, when running Yasso 800s outdoors, you can set the lap distance on your watch to 800 meters or half a mile.
How fast should I run 800 meter repeats?
Determining the pace at which you should complete your Yasso 800s can be tricky if you have never completed a distance race before. If you are just starting out, a great way to get an estimate of your goal pace is to start by completing a workout with four Yasso 800 repeats.
Give it your best effort for each 800 meter interval, and then find the average time it took to complete the intervals. Aim to maintain this pace in the future as you build upon the intervals and increase the number of Yasso 800s you complete in a workout.
If you’ve run a marathon or half marathon before, you already have an idea of the pace at which you are capable of completing the distance.
For marathon training, take your goal time and aim to complete each Yasso 800 in that time. For example, if your goal is to complete a marathon is 4 hours and 30 minutes, try to run each 800 meter interval in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
When using Yasso 800s for half marathon training, double your goal time to find your 800 meter pace. For example, if your goal is to complete a half marathon in 2 hours, doubling this will leave you with a goal pace of 4 minutes for each Yasso 800.
How much should I rest between 800m repeats?
Another key component of the Yasso 800 workout is the rest in between each 800 meter interval. Regardless of the number of repetitions you complete, you’ll want to time your recovery to last as long as the interval.
For example, if it takes you 4 minutes and 20 seconds to complete your 800, run at an easy pace to recover for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. After this rest period, begin your next 800.
How many Yasso 800 repeats should I run?
The Yasso 800 workout is meant to begin with 4 repeats. At the beginning of your training, aim to run four Yasso 800s during your speed workout. If you are unable to maintain your goal pace throughout all 4 repetitions, stick with 4 repetitions again during your next speed workout.
Once you are able to successfully make it through 4 Yasso 800s, increase the number of repetitions each week until you can complete ten 800s.
While this speed workout may sound simple, it is incredibly difficult to complete. 800 meter intervals feel just long enough that maintaining a fast pace is really challenging near the end. But on the other hand, 800 meters is short enough that working hard and pushing your body for this distance isn’t so far that it will cause too much stress.
Just about every distance runner has experienced the incredible benefits of pushing our bodies just past our limits. Yasso 800s are a perfect way to incorporate this on a smaller scale.
Although this workout is an efficient way to improve your fitness, it is also popular among marathon runners for another reason: it helps predict your marathon finish time.
Related: 11 Strategies to Improve Your Marathon Finish Time
Are Yasso 800s accurate?
Bart Yasso first discovered his now-famous “Yasso 800s” on accident. He began incorporating 800 meter intervals into his training, and after years of meticulously logging his training, he discovered something remarkable: the average time it took him to run 800 meters during training was just about always equal to his marathon finish time.
The idea behind Yasso 800s is that you should be able to predict your marathon finish time based on the average length of time it takes to complete 800s during training.
For example, if you’re regularly completing the Yasso 800 workout and see that your average interval time is 3 minutes and 40 seconds – you will likely finish your marathon in about 3 hours and 40 minutes.
If your 800 meter time is 5 minutes and 10 seconds, your marathon finish time will be around 5 hours and 10 minutes.
Many runners swear by this method for predicting their marathon finish time. After many training cycles, they have found this workout to be an accurate predictor of the race time. However, others may question the reliability of this prediction.
One thing is for certain, though: consistency is key.
Throwing a few 800s into your training every few weeks certainly won’t help you get an accurate estimate of your finish time. Similarly, regularly completing Yasso 800s but never running more than 3 repeats at a time won’t provide an accurate estimate either.
Implement Yasso 800s into your training on a regular basis, gradually increasing the number of repetitions until you reach 10, and you will likely find yourself with a very accurate prediction of your marathon finish time.
Yasso 800s aren’t for the faint of heart. Just like all things in life: with this speed workout, you get what you put in. Give it your best effort week after week, show up even when you don’t want to, believe in yourself, and you might just be surprised with your results.
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