Yasso 800s

Hello super runners! This is the Road Runners Club of Woodbury weekly run tip. For the past couple of weeks the focus has been on speed work and tempo runs. The Philadelphia marathon is creeping in fast and it is time to sharpen our running skills. Every Friday I welcome runners to come out to the track and share in a specific endurance workout called speed work. I am currently helping two incredible runners to develop their strength and endurance in speed. Last Friday the three of us tackled a specific endurance training called the Yasso 800s. Yasso 800s are named after the famous marathon runner Bart Yasso. Bart developed this special type of speed work for the main purpose of training for marathons.

Most runners perform 800’s (two laps around a quarter mile track) as part of their speed workouts. This type of training adds strength for increasing speed as well as aerobic endurance. Speed work is designed to focus on the fast twitch muscles which promote a faster pace in your races. The distance of 800 meters helps the runner with both speed and endurance. This is why the 800 meter distance is a perfect speed work for marathons.

The science behind this workout is that the average time it takes you to do an 800 meter within 10 repetitions should reflect the average finishing time in a marathon. For example if you completed 10 Yasso 800s and the average time for your repeats are 3 minutes and 8 seconds then your marathon completion time should be around 3 hours and 8 minutes. This is not proven to be an accepted hypothesis, but has merit from many runners including Bart Yasso.

The Workout

Start your first week of 800s with just three repeats. The pace should be around 90% effort level. Record this time and compare it to the marathon goal that you want to accomplish. Keep that pace as your guide and stick to it. If this pace is a little to easy then increase it, and if it is to hard then decrease it. The goal is to find a pace that is challenging enough while producing proper growth in your speed work. Every week increase the number of repeats by one. Work your way up to 10 repeats two weeks before the marathon. Between the repeats jog easily one lap (1/4 mile), and then run the next 800 at 90% effort. The eighth week keeping in sequence should be 10 repeats. Add the 10 repeat times and divide by 10 which will equal the average time it takes you to do one 800 meter. This time should be very close to your expected finishing time for the marathon on race day.

Go get them done! Remember the goal is 10 repeats! This will defiantly help in your training to tackle the grueling 26.2 miles.

“Speed is the key for developing strength in running the distance”
—John K Carlson

Happy Running!

John K Carlson V.P.
RRCW