Posts Tagged ‘Track workouts for Marathoners’

With Saturday’s 5K race up in Holland, TX counting as our weekend “quality” workout, I stuck to our training schedule on Wednesday and headed to the track to meet with the Rogue group for our mid-week track day. On deck was a simple enough sounding workout.  With running, the same with most things in life, looks can be deceiving.

2 mile warm-up, 8X 800 Meters at 10K effort with 200 meter recoveries, 1 mile cool down. An 8-mile workout with 4 miles at 10K effort or 3:10-3:15 per 800 with 80~ seconds of rest between reps.

I took the warm-up a little slower than usual for the first mile, then pushed the pace just a hair to finish right around 8 min./mile.  Just enough to shake loose, get a nice sweat going – which wasn’t very difficult on a 77 degree morning with 88% humidity and then loosened up a bit with some drills on the football field.

Never having done any track work before this training cycle – I am starting to really enjoy my mornings running on the surface.  There is something about sliding into those race flats and pounding away at the surface, no thought of incline or decline, soft trail or hard asphalt – it feels a little bit like a tuning fork going off inside of you with every stride.  What I thought was going to be “boring” has turned out to be anything but.  On another date in the fall, when temperatures are cool and there is no wind I’m kicking around the idea of having a couple of guys trade off 400’s pacing me to see if I can run a 4:59 mile.

My running partner David showed up so I would have someone to pace with – but David has been struggling with a low-grade fever and some congestion – as it turned out he was a little bit under the weather and after the first set of 800’s – he was off of the pace, hanging :05-:08 behind me for most of the workout.

We were a bit on the slow end of the first two 800’s, but then as I decided to run them on my own we settled in nicely:

3:16, 3:15, 3:11, 3:09, 3:11, 3:11, 3:10, 3:08

What does this mean?  Not really anything to be honest.

Some believe that 800 repeats are a good marathon predictor.  Bart Yasso and the “Yasso 800” workout has become a popular way for marathoners to estimate their potential on race day.

That workout specifically is 10X 800 Meters with an equal rest interval as your 800 meter time.  You take the average time in minutes of your 800’s and convert it to hours and minutes – that is your marathon potential.

So for example – if you are able to run 10X 800 meters in 3:05 and you take just 3:05 of recovery (jogging) between sets, your marathon potential is 3 hours and 5 minutes.

The workout we did this morning was not really the same thing.

8 repeats instead of 10.

1/2 rest instead of a full rest in the time of each repeat as we were only running 200 meter rests or about 80 seconds of recovery.

Instead of running the “fastest we could to finish all 10 in the same time” – we were simply choosing 10K pace as a guide.

I could have for sure run the workout faster, I could have for sure run more than 8 repeats and with almost twice as long a rest period between the repeats, who really knows how fast I “could” run this workout.  Add in some warm weather and you just have way too many moving targets mixed in there to take anything away from this workout as an indicator.

The last factor is we are still about 13 weeks (more than 3 months) away from race day.  With good health we will continue to get stronger and build our aerobic base even more leading up to Cottonwood.  So for now, I’ll just file this one away and not think about it too much.

As for Yasso’s as an indicator?  I’m not really sold.  I think that the workout is more of a reality check than a projection.

What I mean by that is to say that if you CANNOT run 10X 800’s in 3:05 then it is very unlikely that you can run a 3 hour 5 minute marathon at our current fitness level.  But just because you CAN run 10X 800’s in 3:05, I do not think that means that you WILL run a 3 hour and 5 minute marathon.

You still need all the other factors to fall into place:

Fitness – you have to do all the long work, tempo work and hill work.

Health – you have to be pretty darn close to 100% healthy on race day.

Fueling – you have to be dialed in with your nutrition and hydration.

Pace – you have to run a smart race.  Do not go to fast early and you have to execute.

Fight – you have to be willing to hurt during the final 10 kilometers of the marathon.  If you give up even a hair, you won’t make it.

For the Runner’s World Article on Yasso 800’s visit:

We’ll have plenty of tests over the next 13 weeks that we need to pass before we decide that we are going to go for it on race morning and leave Cottonwood Canyon at 6:50 pace instead of some other pace …. but for today, I’m feeling pretty good about where we are headed, but I am a long way away from making any proclamations.  For now, we’ll simply leave it as – to be continued.