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What Are Yasso 800s And How Do You Do Them?

Bart Yasso
The author with Bart Yasso, creator of the workout.

Even if you’re not familiar with Yasso 800s, you have probably heard of the running legend that is Bart Yasso, creator of the famous Yasso 800 workout, which promises to be a predictor of your marathon finish time.

Bart Yasso is well known in the running community as a sort of grandfather to the sport. Yasso has completed races on all seven continents, won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship in 1987 and the Smoky Mountain Marathon in 1998. He is also a five-time Ironman finisher and completed the Badwater 146 through Death Valley. Oh and, just for fun, he cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.

Which is why, when he came up with a marathon finish time predictor with the Yasso 800 track workout, runners everywhere listened and tested it out for themselves.

The Workout

Yasso 800s are exactly what you think—running 800 meters (two laps) around a track. In this case, you should run 10 x 800 until you get a time you can keep consistently or, the marathon time you are shooting for. For example, if you can run 10 x 800 in 3 minutes and 30 seconds each, you should be able to run a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon.

It worked for Yasso and has worked for many other hundreds—and possibly thousands—of other runners.

How To Do It

Obviously you will not start out running your marathon goal pace, or even 10 repetitions of 800 meters. Depending on where you are in your training and what your body can handle, begin with 4-5 repetitions at whatever pace you can consistently run, and take a 400 meter (one lap around the track) jog or walk in between sets.

Each week build sets and speed until you can hit 10 x 800 at a consistent pace.

How It Will Work Best

Yasso 800s should be done in conjunction with a well laid out marathon training plan. You will also want to peak—running your goal pace for 10 x 800—just a few weeks prior to race day, so planning is key.

Where You Can Do Yasso 800s

Obviously this works best on a track but it can definitely be done on a treadmill or simply with a flat stretch of road and your GPS watch.

Why You Should Do Yasso 800s

If nothing else, it’s a great workout that you will likely see results from as you work toward your goal race. It’s also a fun experiment that will most likely only enhance your performance, if done correctly.

Allie Burdick

Allie Burdick

Allie is a freelance writer, athlete and mom, but not in that order. Her work has appeared in Runner's World, Triathlon Magazine and ESPNW. On her blog, VITA Train for Life, she chronicles her life as a runner/triathlete and hopes her successes and failures help to motivate and inspire others, even the over-40 crowd she somehow found herself in! The rest of her time is spent raising her twin boys with her husband in the Northeast where they live a big life! See it all on Twitter and Instagram.