I have a marathon coming up at the beginning of December, the Dallas Marathon. I’ve run plenty of these races and trained using a variety of different plans. From high mileage to low mileage, heavy cross-training to just winging it, it seems that each philosophy has its own merits and misgivings. Plus, when you look at all the other things that go into marathon training, it can easily make your head spin. VO2 max, lactate threshold, nutrition issues and more, I need a nap just thinking about it.
However you plan to train, there’s a simple way to gauge your improvements and see if you’re on target to nail that special goal time. The method is called “Yasso’s 800s,” a workout popularized by Bart Yasso, aka the ‘Mayor of Running” or ‘Chief Running Officer’ of Runner’s World. The idea is to run a progression of ½ mile intervals once a week, tacking on an extra interval each and every week until a total of ten 800s in one workout session is reached. Of course, you’ll still need to put in all the other hard work required for a marathon, including that beloved weekly long run. I’m going to give the Yasso 800s a try and see how close they predict my actual time, you should try it too! Here’s the rundown on how to get it done;
- About two months away from the marathon, head out to the track and run four 800s with a rest in between each that is equal to the last 800 run. Work as hard as you can, but remember that the goal is to keep each interval at an even pace. Don’t blast through the first and slow down in the last.
- Assuming the intervals were run evenly (within a few seconds at most), the average 800 meter time will convert into your predicted marathon time. For example, if you run 3:05 minutes for an 800, then your predicted time will be 3:05 hours for the marathon.
- Each week, add one additional repetition to the workout until you reach a total of ten 800s. The first few repeats will feel relatively easy; the later ones will get harder and harder to complete. If you can finish them all at the same pace, the theory is that you’ll be strong enough to rock the marathon at the converted time. As the marathon approaches, give yourself a 10 day to 2 week break from this workout to rest and recover.
If you’ve tried this before, drop me a note in the comments and let me know how it worked for you. What was your 800 meter time and what was your marathon time?