Friday, August 21, 2009

I heart Bart

Tonight, I did my second hard workout for the week: the classic pre-marathon test workout called Yasso 800s. Bart Yasso invented the workout based on a simple concept: the time you can run these 10 x 800m repeats in minutes and seconds (with jog rest in between equivalent to the time it took to run the repeat) is the approximate time you should be able to run a marathon. So, if you can work up to running 10 x 800m averaging 4 minutes per repeat with 4 minutes rest in between, you should be able to run a 4 hour marathon. This article delivers a very enthusiastic endorsement and explanation of this workout. The article explains that you can start doing this as a workout with fewer repeats early on in your marathon training program trying to hit your goal time for the reps. You then work up to 10 repeats as your test workout a few weeks before your marathon race.

Of course, this is not a magic predictor workout and its voodoo probably only works under special circumstances. The beauty of the Yasso 800 is its simplicity. It makes you want to believe it can work. I used this workout when I first started running and would do it about 3 weeks out from my marathons as a predictor. The funny thing is that it never really worked for me back then so I abandoned it in 2006. It is a good workout if nothing else.

Nonetheless, I did this workout tonight for the first time in over 2 years and felt a little nostalgic. The last time I had done it, I was trying to break 3 hours for the marathon for the first time. So, I was trying to do these 800s in 3 minutes. I remember that being really hard, but I believe I was able to do it. The marathon I ran was Chicago and it was super cold and pretty windy that year. I ran 3:07.

My coach gave me 13 miles for today including the Yassos--10 x 800m in ~2:46 with 3 minute jog rests. I wanted to do the workout in the morning, but I got very little sleep last night being woken constantly by dogs who were suffering from GI distress and whining to go outside. This time, I had no idea what was upsetting their delicate little bowels. I did not feed them sweet potatoes or any other foreign chow.

So, my brilliantly planned workout started at about 6:30 in 95 degree heat and I felt every degree as I set out for the Sac State practice track. I was all business tonight, sporting my Lunar Racers, which I save for only the most serious of workouts and races. As I approached the practice track I noticed a very large bright orange sign that said something like Track Closed Idiot--Don't Even Think About Jumping This Fence To Get In. Normally, this wouldn't stop me, particularly if I saw someone else violating the rules. Tonight, however, I was the only one out there and I saw trucks driving around close to the track. I would sort of stick out like a sore thumb running my laps. So, I decided I would just have to do them on the bike trail. Ironically, this is exactly where I had done them before, running back and forth between the 8 and 8.5 mile markers on the trail.

This is not an ideal set up for this workout since it's much easier to run 800m on a flat track. Here I would be dealing with other trail users and topography. Plus, I would be running 1/2 miles rather than 800m though there's not a big difference (~16 feet). So what the hell did I do out there?

Here are my splits:
1 - 2:36
2 - 2:40
3 - 2:41
4 - 2:44 (felt like quitting after this one--no really)
5 - 2:43
6 - 2:46
7 - 2:42
8 - 2:46
9 - 2:42 (the penultimate rep!)
10 - 2:45

My average was 2:42.5. So, Bart would say I am in shape to run a 2:42:30 marathon. I really doubt that. I am just thrilled that I pulled this workout off in the heat and on the trail. I could have taken it much easier on myself had I run this morning and found an open track. I have to say it is a good feeling to still nail a workout despite myself.

I just finished my recovery beer and will rest up tomorrow in preparation for Sunday's marathon-length training run. Here's to Bart Yasso!

No comments:

Post a Comment