This morning I met my lovely friends Emily and Courtney out at the track bright and early. My goal was to warm up for a mile and then to focus on 800 meter repeats. I only planned to do four repeats and then run a few more miles afterwards. While I was running I started thinking about Yasso 800s. Yes, I know that Yasso 800s are 800 meter repeats, but how many should I do? And do they really work?
If you don’t know what Yasso 800s are, you can read about them here. Some say they can be a good predictor of your actual marathon time. Want to run a 3:00 marathon? Run a bunch of 800 meter repeats in 3 minutes. I’ve never used them as a training tool so I really have no idea if they work or not. However, in perusing through the internet, I found some who were a big fan of this workout, and others who thought they were a great speed workout, but maybe not the best for a marathon.
One of the bloggers that I follow, Predawn Runner, suggests that 1600 meter repeats are a little better suited for the marathon. HillRunner also agrees that longer repeats of 1200 – 1600 meters are more beneficial when training for longer distances. However, Amby Burfoot from Runnersworld.com spoke with about 100 runners and he found that this workout was in fact a good predictor of finish times.
The Flying Pig Marathon has this to say on their website:
This is a workout developed by a Runner’s World employee, Bart Yasso. It accurately allows you to predict the time that you are capable of running a marathon. If you want to run a 3:30 marathon, train to run a session of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. This method holds for all speeds whether you are 2:30 or a 5:30 marathoner. The 800 paces that you are able to complete is a good predictor of your marathon time. 2 minute 30 second 800s equal a 2:30 marathon; 5:30 800s equal 5 hours and 30 minutes for the marathon.
I’m not sure how exactly I feel about the workout (or the work accurately in the definition above). I do know that 26.2 miles is a LONG distance to be running and 10×800 isn’t quite the same. It is my personal opinion that longer intervals, such as mile or two mile repeats, teaches you how to pace yourself and how to handle discomfort for a longer period of time. But on the flip side, I think doing 800 meter repeats can also be a very beneficial speed workout. I’m not just sure how much confidence I have in it being a good predictor of my finish time.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,