Not all 800s are Yasso 800s

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Yasso 800s is a popular workout invented by the man with the coolest job ever, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso.

Lore has it that Yassos, as we often call them, can be successfully used to predict your marathon finish time.

The thing is, not all 800 repeats on a track are Yasso 800s. I, too, am guilty of using that label when I shouldn’t. So as a reminder to myself and everyone else, here is and a brief explainer of the Yasso 800s workout:


What are Yasso 800s

Go on a track and warm up nicely with one and a half to two miles at a comfortable pace.

Main workout:
Run 10 times 800 meters (two loops of the track). Time of recovery between each 800 should equal the time it took you to run the 800. So if you ran the two loops in 4 minutes, then recover with a slow jog for 4 minutes. Then onto the next 800, until you do all 10. Try to be consistent in how you pace the 800s; don’t go all out on the first and blow up by #5.

Cool down with a slow jog for a mile or so.

Marathon time predictor

The theory is that the time for your 800 repeats in minutes and seconds will be equal to your marathon time in hours and minutes. If you ran the 800s in 3 minutes 57 seconds, then you are currently in shape to run a 3:57 marathon.

Some say that this method is a bit aggressive and recommend adding 5 minutes for a more realistic prediction. My personal experience confirms this. These days, I can pull off 10 800s at 3:31-3:34, but my most recent marathon was 3:37.

Frequently asked questions

Q: I just ran 6x 800 fast, with 800 slow recovery in between. Are those Yasso 800s?

No, they are not. Again, the Yasso 800 workout is 10 x 800, with recovery time as long as the time it takes you to run the 800.

Q: Do Yasso 800s hurt?

Hellz yeah. They hurt so good.

Q: Should I do this workout in the middle of marathon training?

Ask your coach. If you don’t have one, take a careful look at your training schedule and find a day when you are supposed to do half-mile repeats. Depending on your fitness level, it might be a good idea to start with 4 to 6 repeats and see how you feel. If you feel absolutely drained at the end, you will have to work on your endurance and build up to 10 reps over time.

Q: How often should I do Yassos?

Absolutely no more than once every two weeks, and even that might be a lot. Best to repeat the workout once every four to five weeks. Greg McMillan incorporates Yassos two to three times in a marathon training cycle.

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