micke-midlife on October 3rd, 2008

there are many ways to get some estimation (or wild guesses) one’s marathon time. a simple google search on “marathon time prediction” provides ample of web pages where you can use past results of shorter run distances to get a feel what this would mean for your marathon time. however, it’s obvious, there’s a plethora of error sources with these guesstimations, e.g. individual performance, the shorter distances you enter, the bigger the error propability, inherit assumptions in the conversion doesn’t fit to your profile, etc. but it’s great fun to just see what this time could be without actually running it!

a couple of years back the guys at runner’s world came up with an interesting finding, the yasso 800s. you run 10 times 800m with an equal resting time in-between as the effort just was. the average time of those efforts in minutes is supposed to be a decent prediction of your marathon time in hours. this scheme was tested and proofed to be true with a sample of 100 runners, from 2:09 to well over 4 hours marathoners. so there might be some value in it. especially you can turn it around and say that you want to run a let’s say 3:10h marathon and can prepare for it by tuning your 800m intervals to 3:10mins.

of course there’s opposition saying that both the prediction and the training method is not worth doing. hillrunner.com points out that yasso 800s are overrated. they wouldn’t work well for marathon time predictions due to runners being better prepared for shorter than for longer distances and before using them as a regular training method, one should think about how this session could be made to better use.

when looking at this in further detail, both sides have reasonable arguments. when running around 4 hours or above, it most probably might be more beneficial to do longer aerobic runs. but i’m convinced that for sub 3h ambitions, speedwork is required,  the better the time of your (current) marathon dream, the more interval training is needed. the coach of my former track and field club mentioned about 15 years ago about the then marathon elite, things will change when those 5000m and 10000m elite runners will shift to the marathon distance, the world best times will considerably improve because of the higher speeds those runners are used to. and so it happened, paul tergat and haile gebreselassie dominate the 42.129km since they appeard on the scene. haile g just improved his own world record in berlin last sunday.

hence, there should be definitely value in regularly (e.g. every second week) running yassos. my plan is to use the yasaos in the beginning more as a progress tracking tool, perhaps once a month. later in the spring next year, i’d use them as a training tool.

today i went out to do a first set. thought to do them on the track in espoo close to the university of technology, started there with the first ones but because of a kids walking race, i was kicked of the sports field. finished them of in the streets of espoo. on average 2:54mins. that would translate to a 2:54h marathon, but to account for some impresicions, let’s say we’re currently roughly on a 3 hour level. there’s still a bit of work in front of us…


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