How to Do Yasso 800s

Use this workout to achieve your marathon goal time

Young female athlete running on race track

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Yasso 800s are a popular workout among runners who are trying to achieve a specific marathon goal, such as trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The name "Yasso" comes from Bart Yasso, the former chief running officer at Runner's World magazine, who popularized this workout.

Yasso 800s are best done on a track so you can easily measure 800 meters (two laps of most standard tracks). You could also do them on a treadmill since you'll know exactly how far and fast you're running. But you can basically run them anywhere, as long as you have a way to measure 800 meters. It is approximately 1/2 mile.

How to Do a Yasso 800 Workout

You first need to know your marathon goal time in hours and minutes. Convert this time to minutes and seconds. For example, if your marathon goal is 3 hours and 10 minutes, your converted time is 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

  • Warm up: First, do an easy warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes jogging and a few warm-up exercises.
  • 800-meter interval: Try to run 800 meters (approximately 1/2 mile) at your converted time (3:10 in this example).
  • Recovery: Jog or walk for the same amount of time (again, 3:10 in this example).
  • Repeat: Start with three or four repetitions per workout in the first week. Later, you will add more.
  • Cool down: Finish your workout with 5 minutes of easy running or walking, followed by stretching.

For runners with a marathon time of 5 hours or more, 5 to 6 minutes of rest time between 800s is not recommended. This is too much recovery and will take a long time to complete.

Add Repeats

Continue with Yasso 800 workouts once a week. Try to add one more repetition each week until you reach 10 repetitions. The first few should feel pretty easy and you may run under your goal time. However, as you add repeats, you'll notice that they'll start to get more difficult and you may have some trouble hitting your times.

If you're unable to hit your goal time (or faster) on your last repeat, stick to that number of repeats in following weeks until you're able to complete all repeats at your goal time. If you're having a difficult time progressing past your goal time after a few repeats, you may want to reconsider whether it's a realistic goal time for you.

Don't Overdo It

Don't make the mistake of assuming that doing Yasso 800s more frequently will increase your chances of hitting your goal time. Make sure you're slowly building up your repetitions and don't do the workout more than once a week. As with any speed workouts, overdoing it can increase your risk of injury. And not giving your body a chance to rest and rebuild can negate some of the effects of your hard work.

Stick to Your Training Schedule

In addition to weekly Yasso 800s, you'll still need to do your regular marathon training, including weekly long runs. Even with the proper training, being able to complete 10 Yasso repetitions doesn't guarantee that you'll finish the marathon in your goal time.

Your finishing time will depend on many other factors, such as training, course terrain, and weather conditions. But if you can't complete the 10 repetitions, it's probably a good indication that you won't hit your goal time.

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