Yasso 800s

Lora recently made me a training plan to get ready for a half marathon + lay the groundwork for fall marathon training. And no, I did NOT get in via the NYC Marathon lottery and I’m crushed. I’m debating running for a charity again but I seriously don’t think I can handle all that right now. I’ve done that 3 times already and I think my friends and family will disown me.

Anyway, in her plan, my first speed workout was Yasso 800s; a workout some believe is predictive of your marathon shape. If you can run ten 800s at 3:55 (with recovery equal to the  amount of time it took you to run the interval) you can run a 3:55 marathon. I’m pretty sure there’s little to no science behind it…it just works. For some people. (I’m doing a bad job of explaining it. Here’s the official explanation.)

When I saw 10×800 on the schedule I was scared. 800s are scary, especially when you’re doing double-digits-worth of 800s. When I set foot on the track, I was nervous. Like, stomach-turning, heart-racing,  kind-of-hard-to-take-a-deep-breath anxious. Which felt silly because HELLO, it’s just running. But track workouts make me feel that way.

track lanes

In case you don’t know what a track looks like.

Let’s just jump right to the splits. If you don’t want to sort through them in the chart below, here’s a condensed list:

3:43, 3:47, 3:55, 3:57, 3:58, 4:07, 4:05, 4:12, 4:13, 4:09

If you like reading all the data, here you go:

yasso 800 splits

Hellooooo, positive splits. I was wavering between anger at slowing down and reminding myself that I needed to keep my attitude in check if I wanted to finish this workout. A mental downward spiral would certainly not do me any good.

laps on track

That’s a lot of circles. And honestly, I have no idea where those random straight lines came from. I SWEAR I did not cut across the football field to cut the intervals short, even though I wanted to.

For the first few 800s, I promised myself I wouldn’t run any slower than 3:59:59. As I inched closer to 4 minutes with each repetition, I tried to imagine myself in my goal marathon, that close to the finish line, with my goal in my reach. I pretended I was 3 hours into the race instead of 3 minutes into an 800 meter run. If I felt THIS HORRIBLE at that moment, with the finish line in sight, I needed to push through it…because 4:00:00 is a world apart from 3:59:59 to me. As I started running 4:07, 4:05, I was upset I let go of the 3:XX, but content at the same time. I knew I gave it everything I had. I felt like throwing up in the last few 800s. My legs were jello. Nothing was left in me, I left it all on the track.

(Still, I just looked back on some 800s I ran when training for the Wineglass Marathon – very early on – and I was running them between 3:29 and 3:36, sooooo….that’s a little depressing.)

Anyway, I feel like I’m overdramatizing this. Like I’m writing a Disney sports movie. But as I learned from Rudy (which wasn’t even a Disney movie but whatevs), all I need is a belief in myself and the drive to work hard. So I’ll do just that.

rudy reuttiger notre dame gif

DON’T EVEN TELL ME THIS MOVIE DOESN’T MAKE YOU EMOTIONAL.

I’m so glad Lora pushed me to do this workout – it was definitely a learning experience and I can’t wait to look back on this first workout further down the line!

P.S. Runner’s World totally gets me. They sent this quote this morning:

runners world quote

Annnnnnd that’s all I have to say about Yasso 800s.

Have you done them? Thoughts? Do you think they “work” in predicting marathon shape?

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!
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11 Comments

  1. Anna B
    March 9, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    for UND xcountry we did a version of this workout once a year with 26x 400. I don’t know if it was called Yasso, but it was certainly a workout we all had to mentally prepare for and it happened about 3/4 though the season. The goal was to keep the same pace for all of them. There was an added pressure of doing it as a team/keeping up with the team (some of whom were running less than 70 sec). I still do them on the treadmill, but no more than 8-10 these days and much slower :)

    Maybe I’ll try 800’s sometime… Kinda sounds like hell! Good job finishing that workout!!!

    • March 13, 2015 / 4:18 am

      TWENTY SIX 400s?! That is insanity. Running fast is hard. PS So excited for you to run Brooklyn!

  2. March 10, 2015 / 1:32 am

    I do 800s occasionally, but not like this. Of course, I’m not training for a marathon and have no clue how I’d do. My 800s are generally below 7:00 min mile pace but I know I could not run under 3:30 in a marathon, bc I’m not running THAT many miles per week to train for that distance. I think it really just depends, some people are more dispositioned for shorter distance or longer.

    The hardest part of speed workouts is pacing. It will never be spot on. I try to start out the first rep or so a little slower and speed up a bit as I feel better. It takes a lot of control, but it’s good to learn so you don’t start too fast in a race.

    • March 13, 2015 / 4:19 am

      Very true. I’m usually really good about starting a race slower and speeding up, but for some reason I’ve been struggling with that on the track lately!

  3. March 10, 2015 / 12:34 pm

    I think the lines are from you stopping your watch and starting again (it connects the lines.. I had a similar picture last year!)
    I love yasso 800s. They hurt so good! I wish I had a marathon that I could say that I gave my all in without getting injured, but that hasn’t happened yet. Thank goodness for more marathons to run!

    • March 13, 2015 / 4:20 am

      Ohhh yeah that sounds right! I don’t remember stopping my watch but I probably was jogging so slow at some points that it auto-paused haha. I KNOW you’ll have that marathon soon! :)

  4. Beth
    March 10, 2015 / 5:37 pm

    AMAZING!!!!! These were your FIRST 800s!?!?!?! So impressive. And you did 10 of them! I feel like jello and throwing up when Abby gives me like 4 800s. Way to go, friend!!!! Can’t wait to see you achieve that sub-4 goal!

    • March 13, 2015 / 4:20 am

      Ugh I felt like throwing up for sure. I wanted to quit the whole time, haha. Thank you!!

  5. March 11, 2015 / 3:51 am

    Awesome job!!! I love/hate 800s!! I took a break from the track but am looking forward to going back!! Exciting you are working off a plan now!!
    I did 10x800s a few weeks before Chicago marathon. I averaged about 4:18s (I think). I ended up doing a 4:42 in the marathon. I knew there was no way I would be able to do a 4:18 marathon. I was trying to hit 4:30-4:35. I had a few different things happen during that race maybe next time!! :)

    • March 13, 2015 / 4:22 am

      Yeah I feel like the timing may not work for me either but we’ll see I guess! It’s fun to hope and try to predict :)

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