Yasso 800s

Today I traded emails with a buddy of mine who is a sub-3 hour marathoner.
If you do the calculation, to run a 3 hour marathon, you’d have to maintain a pace of 6:52/mile the whole way, and that’s not counting dealing with the terrain and environment (ie. if it’s hilly or hot/humid day).
That’s pretty freakin’ fast.
So I asked my friend about how fast your track paces would have to be in order to have a chance of running a 3 hour marathon. My sub-3 hour friends are running 400s at about 65-75 seconds and 800s at about 2:30-2:45, and able to maintain that over as many as ten repeats.
In fact, some guy named Bart Yasso, the race services manager at Runner’s World magazine, came up with this workout of 10×800 on the track, and if you can run this workout at fairly even pace, you can get a prediction on your marathon time. Another writer named this the “Yasso 800” workout. So basically, if you can maintain a pace of minutes:seconds for each of ten 800s, then your predicted marathon pace would be about (minutes->hours):(seconds->minutes). My friends on the track who are sub-3 hour marathoners typically can run 10×800 at about 2:30-2:45 per 800, so that would mean a predicted marathon finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Ugh. Currently I could probably sustain a 400 of about 1:32 and 800 of about 3:35-3:40! Good prediction of a 3:40-ish marathon finish time so not bad. But a far cry from 3 hours!
This morning I did 10×400 and was redlining towards the end of the last few 400s to make a ~1:32 finish!
At least now I have a rough measuring stick on how to improve. To get from 1:32 on a 400 to 65 seconds, I merely need to run that twice as fast. To get from 3:35 800s to 2:30 800s, I just have to run about a third faster. Easy.

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