What are Yasso 800s?

Can this workout help predict your marathon time?

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I first heard about Yasso 800s towards the beginning of my marathon training, while walking my dog and listening to Amby Burfoot’s “Run Forever” audiobook (Which is highly recommended). Amby first wrote about Yasso 800s back in 2001, when he introduced Bart Yasso’s now-infamous workout the Yasso 800.

The concept, in a nutshell, is that you can predict your marathon time by how you do on the full Yasso 800 workout. Which consists of 10x 800-meter intervals with a rest period between each that matches the time of your interval.

“I’ve been doing this particular workout for about 15 years, and it always seems to work for me. If I can get my 800s down to 2 minutes 50 seconds, I’m in 2:50 marathon shape.” ~Bart Yasso in Runner’s World

In my case, I am trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Houston Marathon next weekend. So I most likely need a time of 3:08 or better since the cutoff for getting into Boston for 2020 was 1:39 and my qualifying time is 3:10. Clearly, 3:08 isn’t a guarantee as the cut-off time was higher in 2018 and 2019 which prompted the BAA to up the qualifying times

If I feel comfortable attempting the Yasso 800 workout this week, I will be aiming for 3:05 800m intervals because 3:05 will be the pace group that I am going to run with in the Houston Marathon. In the NYC Marathon, I ran with 2 of my fellow Team ULTRA members and we aimed to hit 3:08 which they both did. I feel off about mile 20 and ended with a time of 3:15:38.

Houston Marathon is a flatter course but there might be some rain which wasn’t a problem at Santa to the Sea where I put down a 1:30:27. I already know Houston Marathon is gonna come down to that last 10k, and my ability to keep my pace even though I am hurting. I will need to embrace the suck as Dean Karnaze says.

Note: There are some people that dispute the claim that Yasso 800s can predict a marathon time. Clearly, it is not an exact science as many things go into running a marathon well from nutrition, course elevation, weather, mental fortitude, etc. This is not an exact science it is more related to the level of fitness or Vdot Max that a runner would need to achieve the desired marathon time. If you can run ten 800 meters intervals at 3:00 you are in amazing shape and with the proper marathon plan, you should be able to get around the 3 hour time.

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