It’s a safe bet that many of you out there have heard of Yasso’s 800 workout, but how many have actually attempted to do it? Here’s a guest blog by Zac Laidley that explores the topic a little bit. We’d be curious to hear if any runners out there had tried this workout leading up to a marathon and if it actually turned out to be an accurate predictor.
From Zac’s blog dogs turn left:
Most LDR geeks have heard of Yasso 800s. The idea, credited to RW’s Bart Yasso, is that you can confirm/predict your ability to run a specific marathon time by converting marathon hours to minutes, marathon minutes to seconds, and then doing 10×800 at that pace. So someone aiming for a 3:10 marathon should do 10×800 @ 3:10. The appropriate rest interval is kind of a gray area; I think the original article said it should equal the time of the workbout interval but I’ve also heard that it should just be a 400 jog.
At any rate, there has been lots of debate over the past dozen years about this workout. The negative criticism is usually: 1) it is not actually a good marathon predictor, and/or 2) it is not a good marathon prep workout.
My response to criticism #1 is: It depends. I don’t think I’m one of them, but there are probably plenty of runners out there with a physiology that reflects this marathon/800 relationship. Bart Yasso, for example. As for criticism #2, I mean… please. I don’t think 10×800 is the best idea for a VO2max workout but it is still a VO2max workout and, unless you are at 100% of your VO2max plateau (I’m not), VO2max workouts help.
But I don’t really care about any of that. I just like them, which is probably the best reason to do any running workout. Seeing as how this was still 27 weeks out from my next marathon — assuming I do Sugarloaf, that is — I decided to stop at five. Yasso did explicitly say that the full 10×800 should only be attempted towards the end of marathon prep. I also decided to subtract six minutes from my 2:50 target because I think I have a higher proportion of fast-twitch fibers than the typical marathoner. 2:44 then, with equal rest. My times were:
2:44.2 - 2:45.4 - 2:43.3 - 2:43.4 - 2:43.2 (avg 2:43.9)
Not bad, except for #2. The weather was typical New England: Cold, wet, windy, some snow. Fantastic.
Note: Although the weather sounds spot on for right now, this was actually taken from an entry in 2013.