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Yasso I’m Out of Gasso

Posted Jun 23 2009 6:54pm

Yesterday I went for my second track workout, this time going 4 x 800 with 400 meter recoveries. And since I have only one running goal – a BQ – I can have only one goal for my 800 meter intervals: the corresponding Yasso 800 time.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Yasso 800s, but for the uninitiated, the concept is that to reach a marathon goal expressed in hours and minutes, you should be able to run 800 meter intervals in that same time expressed in minutes and seconds. For example, if you want to run a 4:05 marathon, you should be able to consistently run 800 meters in 4 minutes, 5 seconds.

As with any predictor of marathon finishing times, Yasso 800s have severe limitations. But the goal is easily determined, easily remembered, and any other computation would be just as arbitrary.

To qualify for Boston, I need to go sub-3:36. So my aim is to work my way up to 10 x 800 at sub-3:36 pace. After my 8 x 400s last week, I knew I would fall short, but I still needed a benchmark. A one-mile warm-up and off I went.

Intervals:  4 x 800 meters
Goal pace: sub-3:36
Lap 1: 3:36.02   FAIL
Lap 2: 3:31.37
Lap 3: 3:37.87   FAIL
Lap 4: 3:47.29  FAIL
Average: 3:38.14
Total distance:  4 miles

Though the last one was worst, I’m proudest of it because I had absolutely nothing left before I started it. As I was completing my recovery lap, I was staring at that starting line with dread. As I puttered around the track, I was glad that people can’t read your mind while you’re running, because my brain was whimpering “waaaaaaahhh!” I was thrilled to come in under 4 minutes.

Anyway, I’ve got a long way to go, and this morning’s crummy six-miler in the heat didn’t build much confidence. But I have to say charging around those turns at the track makes me feel more like a real athlete than just trundling through the neighborhood. It was cool.

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