Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yasso's glass is half full


The marathon is now just 4 weeks away, and I still have no idea what pace to run it in. Ideally, I would find a local half marathon to race, and then plug the 13.1 time into some race result predicting calculators to figure out what to shoot for in the marathon. But I couldn't find a good half to do, so I resorted to a gimmick workout that I read about that have been used to project marathon times -- the Yasso 800's.


Basically, "if you want to run a marathon in 2:45, 3:29 or 4:11, you should train to the point where you can run 10 repeats of 800 meters in the same time 2:45, 3:29 or 4:11. The only difference is that your marathon time is hours:minutes and your 800 time is minutes:seconds... Between the 800s, take a recovery jog that lasts as long as your 800s...." (Bart Yasso, Runners World)


So, on Saturday, I went to the track to do 10 x 800's with a 400 jog/shuffle between each interval. Here's how the whole thing went down:
  1. 3:08 (went out at 1:23 the first lap and then overcompensated)
  2. 3:01
  3. 3:03
  4. 3:04
  5. 3:03
  6. 3:03
  7. 3:00 (started to feel tired)
  8. 3:01
  9. 3:01
  10. 2:59
  11. 3:28 (to feel out 7 minute pace, too fast for a marathon)

It was a good workout -- it became increasingly hard to maintain pace, but it was nice to get those fast-twitch fibers going for a whole hour. But there's no way that I am running a 3:03 marathon. I wondered if I did these correctly. To that end, I would like to ask Bart Yasso:
  • How fast are "recovery jogs" supposed to be?
  • Does it matter that I didn't jog for a full 3 minutes? (shorter recovery vs. more time on feet)
I searched the web for answers, but I mostly found anecdotes from people who've tried this workout -- basically this works for some, but not for all. One expert advised adding 5-10 minutes to the Yasso time. Another person thought that this works well only for well-trained, experienced marathoners.

  • I can probably run a 3:10 marathon one day if I run 50-70 miles per week for a couple months leading up to the marathon.
  • For the Philly Marathon, I might aim for 3:15, but I will be satisfied with anything better than 3:28. My ideal pace is still a guess.
  • I have learned to use the split/recall function of my wrist watch.
Directions for Further Research
  • Should I join the 3:10 or 3:20 pace group, or run on my own?
  • It's time to do some shorter runs at 7:15-7:30 pace to see what that feels like.

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