Chances are that if you are training for a marathon, researching on the web, and possibly a subscriber to Runner’s World magazine you have came across the “Yasso 800s” workout.
A brief explanation (and history) of the workout is on the Runner’s World website but I’ll explain to the best of my ability below. At the end of this post you’ll see a link to a sample 16-week marathon training schedule that includes the Yasso 800s workout each week.
To sum it up pretty quickly, if you want to run a certain marathon time, lets say 3 hours 15 minutes, you need to be able to run an 800 meter dash in about 3 minutes and 15 seconds, not once, but 10 times. Really, the ultimate goal is to be able to do an 800 meter dash 10 times, with the same amount of time resting in between sets (go for a 3 minute and 15 second slow jog before moving into your next 800 meter run.)
Of course, you need to build up to this, so many people start with 2-3 800s the first few weeks and then add a 800 each week until they get to a total 10.
Seems pretty simple right?
It really is.
Is it a proven way to run a certain marathon pace? Good question.
From what I have discussed with other marathoners and have seen on the web, there is mixed results using the Yasso 800 workout every week while training for a marathon.
Some people seem to think it was a good indicator, finishing their marathons +/- 5 minutes from their goal or so, while others were way off. One article that I found particularly interesting was on HillRunner.com who points out why this could backfire for some individuals and how shorter distance paces may not hold up well for longer distances like a marathon.
I think the important thing to realize here is that, although this “simple” workout may be a good indicator of marathon pace, there are many other factors that come into play while running a marathon that can’t be summed up into a few 800 meter runs.