The Yasso 800s


Have you ever heard of the Yasso 800s? I’ve become obsessed with them over the last few months. It’s a heart-thumping, leg-ripping running workout that can help you predict your marathon finishing time.

The quick-and-dirty version of the Yasso 800s: run 10 sets of 800 metres and jog 400 metres between each set. A simple workout — at least on paper. Here’s the cool part: you can predict your marathon time based on the time it takes for you to run all ten of the 800-metre sets. Want to finish a marathon in three hours, 30 minutes? Shoot for three-minute-and-30-second 800s. Want a three-hour marathon? Aim to get each of your 800s accomplished in 3 minutes flat.

Bart Yasso, the race services manager at Runner’s World, developed his 800s series for his own marathon training. He told his boss, Amby Burfoot,  about it one day. Burfoot then tested it out with various marathon runners (who ran everything from 2:09 to over 4 hours) and “darn if the Yasso 800s didn’t hold up all the way down the line.”

In the 12 years since Runner’s World published the first piece on the Yasso 800s, it’s become an incredibly popular workout among marathon runners. I learned about it this winter when I read Yasso’s wonderful book My Life on The Run. I recommend the book even if you’re not training for any races. Yasso tells his story about why he loves to run — and that love has nothing to do with speed and marathon times. For anyone who is training, he includes great training programs for a variety of distances.

As for me and the Yasso 800s, I’m not going to lie: the first sets are easy; but the last one — oh, the terrible last one — hurts so much that even the backs of my eyeballs throb.

In any case, it’s a tough workout and a great treadmill workout, which might just come in handy on a day like today. (It’s snowing here in Calgary!)


Photo via here

PS – I forgot to mention: I’m not training for a marathon. This is for fun.