You may have heard of runners following Hal Higdon training programs, but what about Bart Yasso? Yasso joined Runner’s World in 1987 to develop the groundbreaking Runner’s World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner’s World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners per year. Inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.
Yasso also invented the Yasso 800s, a marathon-training schedule used by thousands around the world. He is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents from the Antarctica marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon. In 1987, Yasso won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship and won the Smoky Mountain Marathon in 1998. He has also completed the Ironman five times and the Badwater 146 through Death Valley. He has also cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.
So let’s discuss what Bart has introduced and the Yasso 800’s. By conditioning yourself to the point where you can run ten 800 meter repeats (twice around the standard 400m track) with appropriate rests in between (3 minutes of jogging) the time it takes you to complete each 800 will correlate to your marathon time. For example, if the average time it takes you for each 800 is 3 minutes and 45 seconds, then your predicted marathon time would be 3 hours and 45 minutes. There really has been no scientific basis for this and it has not been explained physiologically. It has been described as being a great training coincidence.
Does this work? Well it has been discussed considerably amongst running coaches, trainers, and runners themselves and has mixed results. Some are a able to run their 800s on average faster then they can actually complete the marathon, while others say its a really close predictor. Regardless, it is a great training tool which still needs to be complemented with a proper marathon training program.