Saturday, 10 March 2012

Marathon training: Yassos

78 days until the Edinburgh Marathon.


Friday, after a full day of teaching, I headed down to the track to do some Yassos (800 meter intervals).

It was a breezy March early evening, and still light out. I felt a touch cold as I started a warm-up mile.

After the mile, I stopped and stretched for a bit. I then started my chronometer on my watch and took off into my first of two hard laps around the track.

Yassos are a form of speed training, named after Bart Yasso. His book, My Life on the Run is an interesting account of the different places he's run throughout the world, and includes some training schedule. The Yasso 800 workout, if I recall correctly, consists of 10 x 800m runs, with a recovery in between each 800. It's said that your average time for the 800m runs, in minutes and seconds, predicts your marathon time in hours and minutes.

My first Yasso came in at 3:02.

I walked for a bit of the next lap, catching my breath, and then began a slow jog. There was one other guy on the track, but he left after a few laps.

When I returned to my start point, I stretched a little, felt my heart settling down, and then took off again.

My seconnd Yasso was 3:04. On this time, if maintained across the 10 repeats, I would be predicted to run a 3:04 marathon. However, I know that I'm not of that standard. My hope, though, is to run a 3:24 time at Edinburgh, to re-qualify for Boston.

After another recovery lap, I ran a 3:03 800. Again another recovery lap, and again another Yasso.

I don't know that I thought about much as I did these. I've been tossing around ideas for a book, and was wondering if something might be done on the psychology of running. However, it's possible that not much research has been done on this, and and also that some of the motivations for running are the same as for any other mass-participation event, and reflect social norms.

My remaining 800s were as follows:

4: 3:05
5: 3:04
6: 3:03
7: 3:01
8: 3:03
9: 3:04
10: 3:06? (my watch memory was full, so this is an estimate)

Interestingly, after my 5th 800, I started to feel pretty good. My heart didn't fully recover during my recovery lap, and I settled into allowing 3:00 for this lap. I wondered if my leg muscles were warm, and thus more effective, even though I'd expended energy on the preceding laps.

This was the first time I'd ever done 10 800s, and I was pleased to get through them, and run them relatively strongly.


Lately, on the train-ride into work in the morning, I've been day-dreaming about a doing a hiking trip on the John Muir Trail. I pore over my maps of California and Yosemite (where the John Muir Trail starts), thinking about the logistics of doing a stretch of the trail. It's on my bucket-list of life ambitions, like the Appalachian Trail, but at some time - and I'm now 46 - you need to start knocking dipping into this bucket.