My Favorite Track Workout: Yasso 800s

Track SZN is upon us. My favorite track workout that I do a few times leading up to a marathon is the well-known and often-dreaded Yasso 800s: 10 repeats of 800m intervals with a consistent 400m recovery in between each repeat. Basically 2 lap repeats around a track until you collapse!

For marathoners, the magic of this workout is that the time it takes for 800m intervals is your predicted marathon finish time in hours! So if you can do 10x 800m repeats in 3, 4 or 5 minutes, you should be able to run a 3, 4 or 5 hour marathon. This equates to approximately your 5k pace for each 800m interval.

You can start doing the Yasso 800s 12 weeks out from your goal race and do them every 3 weeks, with your last one being 3 weeks out from race day. While you can do them every week, spacing out Yasso 800s in a training plan allows you to truly measure and see improvement to build confidence. And you will dread them a little bit less. Early in a training program, I will start with 5 repeats of 800s and work my way up, adding 1 or 2 repeats each workout to get to 10.

Focus on CONSISTENCY in each repeat and each recovery. Don't compromise form. Start a bit slower than your 5k pace until you find a pace you can hold for multiple rounds. Work with a friend or coach to keep you accountable. If you find yourself finishing the last repeat a lot faster, then re-adjust and dig deeper for next time!

number of factors influence training, starting with your mileage base, your pace, your ability to consume oxygen or VO2 max, heart rate and lactate threshold zones. So simply nailing Yasso 800s isn't enough. If you find your marathon time is faster than your Yasso 800 time, you aren't pushing hard enough on your 800s and need to increase your speed. If your marathon time is slower than 800s, then you aren't putting in the long runs and need to improve your endurance.

Remember that every runner is different. Know your strengths and weaknesses, whether it's speed, endurance, or mental strength. And every run is different. Keep training conditions and how you are feeling that day in perspective. Catch me in class this weekend for a treadmill version of Yasso 800s: 8 rounds of 3.5min intervals alternating between inclines and 10k/5k pace. Or head to the track and try it out for yourself!