What are Yasso 800s and why you should include them in your training [Follow Along – Week 4]

What are Yasso 800s and why you should include them in your training [Follow Along – Week 4]

Yasso 800s

Week 4

After you read this week’s post and follow along with my workouts, you’ll get a better understanding of why the Yasso 800 (VO2 Max speed workout) is included in many marathon plans. I also reveal, based on my experience, what workouts best correlate to your finishing time. I think it’s important to have some reference workouts that will give you an indication of the likelihood that you will hit your goal finish time.

My weekly mileage stays in the mid 40s this week, but I continue to add quality volume (combining VO2 Max and stamina workouts). You will also see in this post how I manage my busy schedule and fit in all the necessary workouts and recovery days. I’m now into Weeks 4-8 of my 12 week program, so with high mileage and intensity workouts, along with a busy professional schedule, it’s critical that I take care of my body and plan my workouts around business travel.

Here’s the link to my Strava Dashboard so you can see the details of each of my workouts.

Monday April 30th – Easy run

The purpose of this workout was to continue the recovery from Saturday’s 15 mile long run. I was also setting up the rest of the week to accommodate my schedule. 6 mile easy runs are really important to not only optimize recovery and build aerobic capacity.

I get questions from people about which workouts they can skip if/when they get really busy and have to prioritize. I’m a firm believer in the 5-7 mile easy run. I like to include 2-3 of these runs in my schedule each week (some days I may only have time for a short run). I would not recommend skipping your short/easy runs because they really are the best way to optimize your recovery.

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 6.1 miles, 47:25 minutes, 7:40

Tuesday May 1st – Track/Speed workout (Yasso 800s)

1 mile (or 10 minute warm-up @ easy pace) + strides
8 x 800m w/ 3 minute rest
10 minute c/d

What Are Yasso 800s?

We’re continuing with weekly speed workouts. This week, I decreased the distance of the interval, compared to last weeks mile repeats. This week I completed my first set of a workout called “Yasso 800s.” My goal was to run the 800s at the pace generated by the McMillan calculator (2:57-3:04). The rest between each 800 is equal to the length of time of your 800. In my case, 3:00 after each interval for my rest.

Yasso started his workout with 3-4 800s and then once a week he would add an additional 800 to the workout until he could complete 10 x 800m. Typically the last workout is 2-3 weeks before your race. The theory behind this workout is that the average time of your 800m over 10 intervals in minutes and seconds roughly correlates to that of the marathon time you can expect to run in hours and minutes. So, if your average time is 4:00, then this correlates to a 4 hour marathon finish time.

Yasso 800’s are really a VO2 max workout. Which means you run at max speed for your designated time (computed on the McMillian, Daniels or whatever pacing calculator you use) and then take an equal amount of rest between intervals. The purpose of VO2 max workouts is to increase your overall running fitness. These workouts improve the speed at which you can run, which would in turn should make running at marathon pace feel “easier”.

A Number of coaches include the Yasso 800 workouts in their plans. Some consider it an indicator of your marathon fitness, while others use it to build up to longer intervals (1mile, 2 mile and 3 mile repeats).

Regardless of whether you or your coach believe that this workout correlates to your marathon finish time, I think that Yasso 800s serve a valuable purpose in any ½ and full marathon plan because they help to make you faster. I typically run Yasso 800s twice during my marathon training. The first time is about 9-10 weeks out, with the 2nd being around 3-4 weeks prior to my race. In my experience, I don’t believe that Yasso 800s always accurately correlate to your finish time. I’ve run the workout each of the last 5 years and averaged under 3:00. In each of my subsequent races, my finish time was 3:05 – 3:14. Close, but not under 3:00.

I also have included this workout in numerous custom plans and the athletes whom I coach either struggled to hit the goal 800m time or reported that their marathon time didn’t correlate with their average 800m time from when they completed the workout.

However, I still do think it’s a valuable workout to include in your marathon plan.

For me, I think that marathon specific workouts like longer tempo runs of 10-12 miles or finishing fast for the last 6-7 miles of 16+ mile run are much better indicators of your marathon fitness. If I can comfortably complete these runs at Marathon Pace, then I know I’m on track to achieve my goal time.

This week my times for each 800m ranged from 2:59 to 3:03, so I was right on target. I completed 8 x 800m. Next month, I’ll run the workout again and do 10 x 800m.

Run Distance: 7.9 miles

Need Marathon Training Info

Wednesday May 2nd – Easy Run

4.5 mile easy run. The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s track workout. Nice & easy run.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 4.5 miles, 39:44 & 8:48

Thursday May 3rd – Off Day

Business travel & meetings today. I planned the day off to coincide with my busy day. This was first break from running or conditioning exercises in 2 weeks, so the rest was well earned.

Friday May 4th – Tempo Run

Another 7 mile Tempo this week with approx. 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down.

I completed this run on a local bike trail. It’s fairly flat, but does include a couple of hills which adds a challenge. My McMillan paces for tempos are 6:30 – 6:46. As you can see below (image from Strava), I’m still slightly slower than target. However, I started in the low 7:00/mile range and gradually picked up the pace to 6:39 pace the last mile. I did feel strong this last mile, which is good. The first and last 2 miles of this course are flat, so I believe that allowed me to more easily pick up the pace.

Tempo Run

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 9 miles, 1:03:59, 7:06

Saturday May 5th – Easy/Recovery Run

6 miles on flat course. The purpose of today’s run is to recover from yesterday’s Tempo/hard run.

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 6 miles, 47:02, 7:47

If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

Sunday May 6th – Long Run

12+ miles at easy pace

The goal of today’s run is to continue to build strength and get used to spending 90+ minutes on my legs. Because last week’s long run was 15+, I like to bring down the subsequent long run to between 10-12 miles. The pace is easy. However, on this run, the last 2.75 miles are uphill. Since I started late (after 1100am), the weather was hot. Although I try to drink a lot on my longer runs, the last portion of the run with the incline was tough.

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 12.2 miles, 1:36:31, 7:51

Weekly total = 6 days with workouts, 6 with running – 46 miles

How to determine your goal marathon time & training paces [Follow Along – Week 3]

How to determine your goal marathon time & training paces [Follow Along – Week 3]

How to determine marathon training paces
Week 3 – April 22nd

Monday April 23rd – Easy run

The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s 10 mile run. It’s really important to run your easy runs at an easy pace. Even if you feel rested and could go faster, you won’t properly recover unless you keep the pace easy (varies by a runner’s ability, but for me is 8:00 – 8:30/mile pace).

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 6.1 miles, 49:21 minutes, 8:01

Tuesday April 24th – Track/Speed workout – repeat 1600m

1 mile (or 10 minute warm-up @ easy pace) + strides
3 x 1600m w/ 400m rest
10 minute c/d

Weekly speed (also called interval or track) workouts are an essential part of my marathon training. This week, I’m increasing the distance of the interval, compared to last weeks’ ladder workout. I’m completing 3 x 1600m (or mile) with 400m (or 2:30 – 3:00 rest).

My times for each 1600m were 6:21, 6:21 and 6:09. My target time for 1600m was 6:14 – 6:25, so I was within the range and even a little faster on my last interval.

biggest running challenge

How To Determine Your Training Paces

Unless your goal is to simply finish the marathon, most people have a goal time in mind. The key to determining a realistic goal & proper marathon training is having realistic goal time that corresponds to your abilities and current fitness levels. You can then use this goal time to determine your goal paces.

Typically your goal time is based on a finishing time from a recent race. Either previous marathons or half marathons. It’s important that you don’t simply choose a goal time that you simply want. You really need to look at previous races, your current fitness level and what kind of plan or coaching you plan to use to prepare for the race.

The next step involves using a performance calculator. The best ones are from Jack Daniels or Greg McMillan. I’ve actually had Greg McMillan help coach me (through one of his programs), so I tend to use his calculator.

Enter your most recent race time into the calculator. Ideally you want to use a race distance that’s close to the marathon, like a half (instead of a 5 or 10k). As long as the race was within the last 6-8 months and you’ve been running since, this is a good gage of your current fitness level. The calculator will then give you an equivalent for the marathon. You can use this as your goal time.
If you’re a beginner and haven’t run a race before, you might consider running a 8-12k race first. Not only will this give you some race experience (so you can see if you enjoy running long races), but it will give you a test of your fitness level and a time you can plug into the calculator.
Once you determine your goal time. Then you can use the calculator to determine your workout paces.
In my case, I haven’t run a race since last July when I ran a marathon. I had some issues with my feet during that race and I finished well off my goal time, but still a respectable 3:14. I have been running regularly since last July, so my goal this year, is to break 3:00. This is what I plugged into the McMillan Calculator. Below is a screen shot for my paces using this calculator.

Using McMillan Calculator to determine paces

Tempo Runs & Cruise intervals at medium-hard effort with short recovery

Using McMillan Calculator to Determine Training Paces

Speed Paces for Intervals of Less than 10-15 minutes

As you train for the first 3-4 weeks, hopefully you’ll start to see improvements in your fitness. If you established a realistic goal, you’ll likely be running at or very near the assigned paces.

If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

Wednesday April 25th – Easy run

In Clovis, CA on this morning for business. Ran 6 miles at easy pace around the Fresno State campus. The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s track workout. Nice & easy run.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6.31 miles, 49:55 & 7:54

Thursday April 26th – Tempo Run

Sometimes you may forget your watch. If you do, don’t panic. Just complete the run at your best effort. Today was one of those days for me.

My training plan called for a 7 mile Tempo with approx. 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down.

This run was a bit challenging because I rarely run hard early in the morning. However, this is great practice for the marathon (which will start at 0630 on July 4th). Also, this run was different because their were no mile markers on the bike trail (Clovis Old Town bike trail).

I simply noted that it was 700am when I started the run. I warmed up briefly and then gradually picked up the pace throughout the rest of the run. Same as the previous week, my tempo pace is 6:45 – 7:00/mile.

When I returned to the car, it was 8:10, so I believe I was somewhere around 8.5 – 9 miles (I had to stop for a traffic about 4 times which added to the time. Regardless of the distance, the effort was definitely there. I was feeling a little tired and stiff on this run (after a lot of driving the day before) so my guess is that I probably didn’t complete all 7 miles in at target pace.

Run Distance, Time (estimate): 8.5 miles, 1hr 10 min

Friday April 27th – Conditioning Workout at Gym

Bike Blast workout at my local gym for 45 minutes. Workout consisted of alternating 1 min hard on stationary bike at varying levels of resistance and then barbell and body weight exercises. The purpose of this workout was to take some time off my legs and build strength to help injury proof my body.

I strongly recommend completing conditioning & strength work at least 2 times/week during your training. 3 times per week is optimal during the off season.

How Middle Age Runners Stay Injury Free

Saturday April 28th – Long Run

The goal of this run is to get time on my legs and complete my weekly long run. Bi-weekly, I increase the length of the long run as I progress through my schedule. Ultimately I build up to 18-20 miles. On weeks where I’m not running 14+ miles, I typically run 10-12 miles at easy pace. With tough Tempo and Track workouts every week, I believe it’s important to slowly ramp up the length of the long run. As long as my schedule is long enough (14 – 16 weeks), I have plenty of time to get in the long runs and recover.

On this day, I actually was committed to join some friends for a 5k charity run, so ran I 12 miles prior to joining the charity run. Below is my Strava results of the run. Pace was easy, but I did run a few miles in the mid to lower 7 minute/mile range. I felt good/strong. The last 5k was at easy pace.

Marathon Training 15 mile long run

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 15.8 miles, 2:03:28, 7:47

Week 2 Summary: 7 days with workouts, 6 with running – 47 miles

Why are Strides So Important For Marathon Training [Follow Along – Week 2]

Why are Strides So Important For Marathon Training [Follow Along – Week 2]

Importance of Strides for Marathon Training

In this series of posts, I’m giving readers a behind the scenes look at how a busy middle age professional, prepares for a sub 3 hr marathon.

Here’s my Strava link. If you’re a member, you can view my training.

Week 2 – April 15th

Sunday April 15th – 5 miles at easy pace (8:00 – 8:30) + strides.

The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s long run of 14 miles. Strides are completed at 3k pace (controlled, but not sprinting) after the run. Typically, I complete strides after an easy recovery run or before a track workout. As a part of my warm-up they help get the blood flowing to my legs and my heart rate slightly elevated. They are important because they help provide quick leg turnover. The key with strides is to relax, stay controlled and concentrate on your form. Strides can ultimately help you run faster. I typically complete strides 2-3 times per week.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 4.3 miles, 37 minutes & 8:40

Here’s a video of how to perform strides:


If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

Monday April 16th – Track/Speed workout (ugly weather – 40 degrees, wet & windy)

1 mile warm-up + strides
400M, 800M, 1200M, 1600M, 1200M, 800M, 400M
10 minute c/d

Speed Workouts

These workouts are essential for all runners that are preparing for a race. In the next post, I’ll review in detail how I determine paces for speed workouts.

These workouts are important because they increase your body’s ability to process & store oxygen. This will help the muscles function better for all distances. To be most effective, you don’t want to run at your speed workout pace for more than 7 minutes per interval. Anything longer then becomes more of Tempo Interval which would be run at a slightly slower pace (we’ll get into that in a later post). The bottomline is that speed or track workouts will help you develop endurance, speed, and stronger legs and lungs.

Today I completed what’s called a “ladder” workout. As you can see, I start with a 400m interval at the desired pace and then in increments of 400m, I work my up to 1600m before decreasing down in 400m increments back to 400m.

Following are my target & actual paces for each distance. The weather today was pretty nasty (low 40s, raining and windy). Hitting the right pace in these conditions is tough. The key on these days is to consider the effort and not worry about the times. As you can see, I started a little slow, but was able to get close or within the target times for 1200m & 1600m. Unfortunately I had to cut my workout slightly short because I had to get to the airport to pick-up friend. I ended up skipping the 2nd 800m. I was feeling fine during the 1600m and after as is reflected in my times, so I have little doubt that I would have been able to get the 800m in at desired pace.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6 miles, 47 minutes & various

Tuesday April 17th – Easy day at the hotel gym

35 minutes on elliptical + 15 minutes of conditioning exercises at hotel gym
(body weight & core exercises)

I didn’t get to the hotel until about 730pm and up to the gym until about 900pm. The purpose of today’s workout was to recover from the previous days’ track workout. My preference is to do some kind of easy running or crossfit in a hotel gym the first day of travel. The key is to get something in.

Need Marathon Training Info

Wednesday April 18th – Easy run on treadmill + conditioning exercises

35 minutes on treadmill @ easy pace + 15 minutes of conditioning exercises.

Cool/damp weather in St. Louis area, so I hit the treadmill. To add a little more to the workout I typically complete bodyweight exercises to strengthen my core, legs and upper body.

The alternative to running easy on the treadmill would be to complete a workout where the speed and/or incline are varied. Since my plan in the next few weeks includes an increase in mileage and intensity, I decided to keep today’s workout fairly easy.

Bottomline, when you’re on the road, try your best to get some kind of workout completed. At a minimum, I try for 30 – 45 minutes. Depending on the time of day and/or how I’m feeling, I can go hard or easy.


Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 4 miles, 55 minutes total workout time


Thursday April 19th – Rest Day

Off/Rest Day. Traveled back home. I typically use one of my travel days as a rest day.

Friday April 20th – 6 mile Tempo Run

1 mile w/u @ easy pace, 6 Mile Tempo @ Marathon Pace, 1.25 mile c/d @ easy pace
In the next post, I’ll discuss purpose of Tempo Runs. These runs can be tough, but next to the long run, they’re probably the most important part of my marathon training because it helps you get used to running at a faster pace for longer periods of time.


Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 8.3 miles, 58 minutes, 7:00

Saturday April 21 – Easy run with strides
40 minutes @ easy pace
The goal of today’s run is to recover from the previous days’ Tempo run. It’s really important to include rest (running at an easy pace)

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 5 miles, 45 minutes @ various paces

Sunday April 22 – Long Run. 42 degrees, sunny & no wind
10 miles @ easy pace, finished last mile at sub 7:00/mile pace.
Ran with friends. This helped to ensure that the bulk of the run was at an easy pace.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 10 miles, 1:23 & 8:17

Week 2 Summary: 6 days with workouts, 5 with running – 33 miles

[Follow Along] An Inside Look at my Quest to Break 3:00 – Week 1

[Follow Along] An Inside Look at my Quest to Break 3:00 – Week 1

In this series of posts, I’ll give you behind the scenes look at how a busy middle age professional, prepares for a Marathon.

The 2018 Foot Traffic Flat Marathon will be held on July 4th on Sauvie Island, OR (just outside of Portland, OR) and I have a goal of trying to break 3:00 hours.

You can follow my training as I post details of my workouts from now until race day.

How to get the most out of this series of blog posts

  • If you’re currently training for a race, comment at the end of the post with details of your weekly workouts.
  • If you’re not training for a race, compare one of your older plans to what I’m doing and ask any questions.
  • If you’re not using a plan and/or training for a race, try some of the workouts (you may have to adjust paces (faster/slower).

    If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

    I want readers to see how I prepare myself and manage around my busy schedule. I’ll share:

  • workouts
  • times
  • paces
  • conditioning exercises
  • I use a Polar M400 watch and I upload to Polar Flow and Sync to Strava, so everything’s easy to see. I’ll take screen shots of certain workouts to show details. I’ll also discuss the purpose for my workouts and how I determine pacing. Some posts will include meals & recovery tips and videos

    Bottomline, there will be plenty of details and full transparency. My goal is to show everything.

    I’m showing you the last 12 weeks of my training program. I’ve actually been training since the beginning of March and I’m always running, so I had a good base before the program started. I tell you this, because it’s important to understand that I didn’t start from 0 and suddenly complete 25-30+ miles/week.

    Here’s my Strava link. If you’re a member, you can view my training.

    I encourage comments, questions & any feedback.

    Week 1 – April 8th

    April 8th – 6.6 miles in Washington DC along Rock Creek Bike Trail (near National Zoo).
    After a week of low mileage (we were visiting colleges in PA, DC and VA), I just wanted to get in a smooth run outside (as opposed to treadmills). This was a relatively easy run, but I did try to pick up the pace in miles 4 & 5 (7:19 & 7:15). There was a big hill down to the trail from the hotel, so my heart rate became very elevated at the end of the run.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6.61 miles, 51:01 & 7:42

    Overall I felt good. This was my first run outside since Monday April 2nd (all other runs during this first week in April were on a hotel gym treadmill).

    April 9th – returned from Washington DC (long plane ride). 8.85 miles on Heritage trail in Camas, WA
    Since I would be traveling again for much of this week, I wanted to get in a speed workout.

    I completed a modified Fartlek with a 1.5 mile warm-up and then a mix of 1 mile @ slightly slower than marathon race pace (6:50/mile) & 800m @ slighter slower than 1/2 marathon race pace (6:35/mile). My rest in between intervals was approx 1/4 mile at easy pace.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 8.8 miles, 1:04 & 7:16

    April 10th – 5.5 miles at easy pace in Allen, TX (right outside Dallas).

    The purpose of this workout is to recover from yesterday’s hard workout. Since I’ve also been in a plane for the last 2 days, it’s essential that I incorporate something easy into my plan where I can simply get any tightness out of my muscles and get the blood flowing to delivery rebuilding nutrients to my muscles.

    Recovery jogs are also used in between intervals during my track workouts. It’s critical to slowdown sometimes. There is no other goal of these recovery days. Therefore, these runs last only 35 to 45 minutes. Sometimes shorter the better.

    Finally some nice temperatures that allowed me to run in t-shirt and shorts.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 5.5 miles, 42:58 & 7:45

    April 11th & April 12th – No activity. Sometimes I get up early to run in the hotel gym, but I was too tired on the 11th. I had a business dinner with clients and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 900pm, so I decided to take the day off. I typically don’t take 2 days off in a week, but on April 12th, we had to start early (leave hotel prior to 700am). I flew back to Portland later in the afternoon. I took the 2nd day off because I felt tired and didn’t think that jumping on treadmill or stationary bike at 800pm would be beneficial.

    Sometimes life happens. Don’t let it get you down and don’t try to make it up on the next day you exercise. I’m a believer in staying with the plan and if I miss, modify if possible, otherwise, don’t worry about it.

    April 13th – Crossfit training at gym. Typically my Fridays include a crossfit workout with a group of middle age athletes. We’re lead by a very fit an energetic woman.
    The workout is called “Bike Blast” it’s 45 minutes alternating 1 minute on a stationary bike with 1 minute of conditioning exercises. This is a hard workout and really helps to build strength, while burning calories. On this day, most of the conditioning workouts were with barbells. We did overhead presses, arm curls, tricep curls, squats and also a lot of core work. Overall it was a great workout, especially after a few days off.

    April 14th – Long run. 14 miles. Since the terrain for Foot Traffic Flat is flat, I seek out long runs that don’t include hills. This differs from how I train for the Portland Marathon (which has a big hill (bridge) at mile 17) and Boston.

    The purpose of the long runs is primarily to get time on your feet. Most plans include one every 7 to 14 days. The long run will improve your endurance and is arguably the most important part of your marathon training. There’s a lot written on how long and fast this run should be. I like to go at an easy, conversational pace with my heart rate some where between 70% – 80%. When you start your plan, you’ll have an 8 mile run and gradually we’ll get up to 16 – 19 miles. At this part of the schedule, these are slow runs, but I like to occasionally pick up the pace very slightly to help me adapt to the stimulus of being on my feet for 90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. Generally, try to keep the effort easy. There will be long runs later in the plan where I finish fast.

    Below are the details of my run. Including course and pace. As you can see, I started easy, but did get the pace to around 7:20/mile pace. This is approx :30 slower than marathon race pace, so it didn’t feel too fast, but I could I could have gone a little slower. Sometimes when I run on my own, I go a little too fast. This is why it’s nice to run with others and really keep a conversation. Bottomline, for this workout, I felt very comfortable and my breathing was easy throughout the run and my legs felt fresh.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 14.05 miles, 1:46:12 & 7:33

    Week 1 Summary: 5 days with workouts, 4 with running – 35 miles