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


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!


  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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