Runner's Training Log: Do Yasso 800's Work?

Two weeks ago, I gave the infamous Yasso 800s a try.  Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer (CRO) of Runner’s World and author of My Life on the Run, has created a workout that (many claim) predicts your marathon time.
Here’s how it works:  Want to run a 4:00 marathon?  Do 10x800m in 4:00 with an active (jogging) recovery of 4:00. Shooting for a 3:15 marathon?  Complete your 10x800m in 3:15 with a 3:15 active recovery. (*Note: Bart recommends incorporating Yasso 800s on a weekly basis in your marathon training plan – he suggests starting with 4x800m and working your way up to 10.)
I had never done this workout before but since I’ve been doing mile repeats on a pretty consistent basis I wanted to see how many I would be able to complete. I ran 8 repeats before my son woke up from his morning nap.  I am training for a 3:10 marathon, but was (overly?) ambitious and ran the repeats in 3:05 (with a 3:05 active recovery).  To be honest, I’m not sure I could have finished the last two – numbers 7 and 8 were extremely difficult and I almost stopped on the 8th one because I was dry heaving.  However, the NJ Marathon is 12 weeks away, so I should be able to complete the 10 well before the big day. 
But do Yasso 800s work???
I’ve come across many reports of runners who swear by Yasso 800s – the time they run the repeats in holds true for their marathon time.  (Note: These runners have marathon times ranging from 2:30 to over 5 hours.)
However, I’ve also heard that Yasso 800s are not a true predictor of marathon time. There are many who claim that they have run considerably slower than the Yasso 800s indicated they would.
Since I have not run a marathon after giving the Yasso 800s a try, I cannot properly answer if they work – I will be able to after the NJ Marathon.
However, while I thought the Yasso 800s were a great and exhausting workout (10x 800m repeats are no joke), I will not incorporate them as a weekly workout in my marathon training plan. My plan has three “key” runs – speed, tempo, and long runs (the other runs are easy/recovery days); Yasso 800s don’t fit the mold for any of these key workouts.
According to the McMilan Calculator (my go-to source for my pace on all my runs), I should be running 800m repeats for my speed workouts between 2:46 and 2:54…the Yasso 800 pace is 11-19 seconds slower than my target “speed” pace.
Per McMilan’s Calculator, my tempo runs should be between 6:25 and 6:42 (I try to run 20-25 min straight at this pace) and tempo intervals (I do 4x mile fast and 90 second active recovery) should be slightly faster – 6:20 and 6:33…the Yasso 800 pace is 10-32 seconds faster than my target tempo run pace and is only a half-mile interval – much shorter then a textbook tempo or tempo interval workout.
I am certainly not criticizing Bart Yasso – he is a running legend and expert and knows FAR more than I do about running and training for races.  Yasso 800s are a killer workout – I enjoyed doing them and walked away with that feeling of a great workout.  And I definitely plan on giving the workout another try in a few weeks to see if I can hit the target pace for all 10x repeats. If nothing else, it will be a great mental boost going in to the marathon in May!

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