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Yasso 800s

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 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.


I wonder how fast Usain Bolt can run a few Yasso 800s…
Photo from Jmex60, Wikimedia Commons


Happy Trails and Happy Running,


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh Yasso 800s! I have a love/hate relationship with them. I read Bart Yasso’s book, and he recommends working up to where you can do 10 repeats at your goal race pace. When I used them I was training to run a 4 hour marathon so I shot for 4:00 minute 800s. I ran a 4:00:04 at that race. I’m not sure how much the Yasso 800s helped or my intense training plan in general, but I found them to be a good type of workout to do every once in a while in addition to other types of speedwork!

    July 24, 2012
  2. Amy #

    I agree…I’m not so sold on the method as a predictor of marathon time, because it doesn’t follow any pattern…but I’ve been doing my 800’s at a 3 minute 30 second pace just in case! Pretty soon here we’re getting in some 1600 repeats (I’m REALLY not looking forward to this), because like you said, most of the research suggests that getting in LONGER runs and intervals as opposed to shorter/faster runs seems to be more beneficial for marathon training.

    July 24, 2012
  3. Thanks for the link Tracie. While I still believe that 1600’s are a better workout than 800’s – and I think that the Yasso workout isn’t a great predictor of marathon times, though doing shorter (2/3 of the interval time) recoveries may help with that – I honestly don’t feel that interval training for VO2max gains in general is a significant factor in marathon training. I now follow more of the Pfitzinger approach where intervals are designed to help drive running efficiency, but he considers VO2max to be way down the list of physiological traits that are important for marathon success (behind lactate threshold, glycogen efficiency, aerobic capacity, running economy, etc.). Don’t get me wrong, a full set of Yasso 800’s is a tough workout, I just think it’s better suited for a half-marathon than full marathon. And for full VO2max development, Jack Daniels (the coach, not the whiskey) recommends intervals lasting 5 minutes – typically in the 1000-1500 range.

    July 24, 2012
    • Thanks for the info Greg. I’ve read where quite a few people follow the Jack Daniels method. A few local runners who are also really fast focus on the 1000 meter repeats. I am always learning something new so I’ll be interested to see how I respond to the 1600 meter repeats. 🙂

      July 26, 2012
  4. rommel #

    I have done Yasso’s 800 for two years now and since then I have PR. The first year I’ve done it, I cut my time in 15 minutes, this year I smashed my old time by 20 minutes. So, I’m a big believer of Yasso 800!!!

    September 20, 2012

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