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Back on Track

To say I’ve seized the opportunity to relax, recover and take a breather from heavy training in the month since I raced my Ironman, would be the understatement of the century.

Instead of my regular routine of rising before the sun and sweating it out all day every day, I’ve spent August refining my ability to sleep in, eat foods with terrible nutritional profiles, and indulge in more than a couple celebratory beverages.

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And it’s been glorious.

I know you’re probably thinking “but you raced! you did triathlons! you ran hood to coast!” Trust me when I tell you, that’s ALL I did. I didn’t talk about other workouts, because there weren’t many.

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In my defense, all of this not working out was very much a part of my long-term strategic sweat plan. I wanted to avoid mental and physical burnout in the wake of the toughest event of my athletic career. And it’s worked.

But after a month of exercising my laziness, I’m ready to get back on track.

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Literally.

This morning, joined my friend and training partner Steve for my first track workout in months. (It’s kind of a stretch to call him my “training partner” when I haven’t actually trained with him in months…but that’s the Ironman’s fault. Not ours.)

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Steve is usually a fan of the 400s, but my coach suggested trying to do some Yasso 800s for my first workout back on the track and since Steve is recovering from numerous injuries, the idea of slightly slower repeats appealed to him.

For those of you unfamiliar with Yasso 800s, they are 800 meter repeats at a split equivalent to your marathon time.

No, not marathon pace…marathon time.

For me, with a goal of running a 3:20 (three hours and twenty minute) marathon, I would try and hold every 800 at a 3:20 (that’s three minutes and 20 seconds) or faster.

I know it sounds confusing. But it really works.

You know who knows all about Yasso 800s?

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Bart Yasso.

My good friend, or, an awesome runner that I often stalk at race finish lines. And on twitter…

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Bart came up with the genious idea of Yasso 800s after consistently realizing that every marathon he trained for reflected his 800s training time. At first he thought that maybe it only worked for speedsters like him (my word, not his) but after testing it on runners of all speeds, it became quickly apparent that 800 training times are an excellent predictor for marathon finish times.

Yasso 800s are now a workout regularly turned to by marathon trainees across the globe. To do it Bart’s way, start a couple months before your goal marathon with 4 x 800s and add one each week until you reach 10.

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Because I’m such an overachiever (or because I slacked off for a month straight) I started with 5 of these babies.

And because I’ve been essentially tapering for a month straight, I started off a bit too fast.

3:04

3:10

3:10

3:15

3:15

Maybe not the most consistent Yasso 800s…but I’m extremely pleased that I easily held them all under the target pace of 3:20. Especially considering what I was doing on Saturday.

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It felt so good to get back on track. For the workout and for my training plan. I’m beyond ready to get back to serious marathon training and take down that 3:20 once and for all. It’s an added bonus that I happen to have a mild obsession for all the killer workouts that will help me achieve that goal.

See you next week, track.

Track workouts: love them or hate them? Favorite workout to hit the track with?

37 Responses to Back on Track

  1. I actually like track workouts. I don’t know why. I love running to fast for my own good, hanging on for dear life, then getting that life saving break. Then doing it again. I always kind of dread them, but then I come away feeling so much more confident. I also find myself better able to pace myself on a track.

    I don’t have a favorite workout though. I guess I haven’t done enough to pick a fave!

  2. This may be a little too stalkeresque for you to want to answer on your blog, but where is the track that you run on? I think we live very close to one another (from the pictures you’ve posted), and I’ve been looking for a track to do speedwork on!

  3. I don’t live near a track and I run mostly at night so I do speed work doing loops around my block… kind of primitive, but it kind of works. I like it sometimes. And sometimes I don’t. I haven’t done intense ‘track’ work in a while, but my old fave was pyramid work… 400/800/1200/1600/1200/800/400.

    Go get ‘em, girl! Rooting for you and your 3:20 :)

  4. I enjoy the track. Just on Tuesday I went to the track my mom ran on when she was growing up in Finland to run some Yasso 800s of my own. I am not sure if it was the fact that I have been keeping the running minimal between my back to back marathons or the nice cool air but the four I did were speedier than normal. Definitely not the time I am shooting for in my race in a little over a week! I wish! But maybe a bit encouraging that I may be getting faster overall…

    Good luck with your training for the 3:20. I am sure this time you will crush it!!

  5. Geeze, speedster! I hate the track. I think I am intimidated or something by it because I start breathing heavy and my heart starts racing before I even get onto the track! I definitely need to start incorporating it as doing 3 long runs a week and some shorter ones in between aren’t really helping my speed….Who knew! haha.

  6. Whoop whoop! Great work on jumping back into it! I bet HTC was a pretty awesome start to get pumped for marathon season. I have a question about your Yasso 800′s – is your rest interval 3:20 too? Whenever I do the 800′s I always feel as though the rest being the same length as the running interval is way too long…

  7. I LOOOOVE the track! My fave workout has to be 400m repeats but I really just love running on the track. Anything longer than mile repeats tho and I would rather be running on the road. I just love running round that oval!

  8. I love track workouts!! I haven’t ever done Yasso 800′s, although I have had it one my training plans a few times. oops! It’s so cool that you got to meet him!

  9. I never knew the theory behind Yasso 800′s – that’s so interesting! I am not the biggest fan of track workouts, but maybe I’ll try this one. Anything to help me get my marathon goal this fall!

  10. Gotta be honest.. track workouts, never tried ‘em. I’m still getting used to the whole “run more than 3 miles in one time period” training. Right now, I have my sites set on my first 10K and to complete it in 60 minutes would be the best.thing.ever.

    Got any tips for helping me train? I’m only in my first week but even the thought of running 3.5 miles at this point is still a little scary.

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  11. ba, i hate track workouts – (1) bc they usually make me want to throw up and (2) there are so many kids that hang out ON the track. they ride their bikes clockwise towards you and i want to throw my elbows out and knock them off their bikes.

    my coach has me doing a lot of pyramids (200/400/800/1200/1600) and boy do they hurt! the yassos sound like fun though :) not too too painful.

  12. You are awesome and you’re getting REALLY good at taking jumping photos. I feel so proud. Have you been watching Center Stage and taking notes?

  13. Loooove track workouts! I recently read about Yasso 800′s as well and I am excited to substitute those in for the Run Less, Run Faster Speedwork after I finish 70.3 in September!!

  14. I am yet to attempt track workouts, but since I have a 1:50 half marathon goal looking me right in the face, I think I’m going to need to start after Akron!

  15. I’m a bigger fan of the 800′s vs. 400′s..it takes me a minute to get the lead out, so a longer distance is better for me. I usually do my “track” workouts on the treadmill…the actaul track has always intimidtated me – everyone seems so speedy.
    ps. I hope your family is doing OK in VT. I’m a fellow Vermonter (well, I live in Boston now, but will always consider myself a Vermonter) and I know it’s been tough for many people up there!

  16. Is that the track near Howard? If so, that is where I go :) Of course last week when I went (in the morning) and it was still dark, which kind of sucked.

  17. Thanks for posting this! I was WIDE AWAKE when I got home from a birthday party last night….where I didn’t drink…workout in the morning, UGH!…anyway, I read a few blogs including yours, and I was stoked to try out some Yasso 800′s on my interval workout today at the track! It was great, I really liked it. Thanks for posting!

  18. Yasso 800′s are my track workout of choice! They definitely helped me speed up a couple of years ago. Sadly, I’m still on the injured list for now for running at least =(…maybe in October.

  19. I love track workouts, especially 800 repeats. Doing the full 10 a few weeks before a marathon is a huge confidence boost.

  20. Such a coincidence – I did Yasso 800′s yesterday too! It was my first attempt and I loved them!

  21. I haven’t been able to work out for two weeks so I know what you mean about wanting to train again. :) I love 800s, but I really just do tempo runs or mile repeats. Mile repeats make me nervous the night before because it’s so hard. I have to start doing more track work.

  22. I haven’t done a workout ON a track in years – most of the high schools around us are locked and only open for students and teachers. So instead I do loops around a .75 mile trail we have in our apartment complex or around a nearby park. Favorite track workout (and really, most hated workout because it was a butt kicker) used to be ladders – build up 200, 400, 800, 1200, (or 1,600 depending on if it was track or cross country season) and then back down, 800, 400, 200. It was hard, but the with the build then step down, it always seemed to go fast, since it wasn’t just repeats.

  23. Definitely love the track and yassos. Awesome job getting back to it, speedy!

  24. I love the track! ladders are my favorite.

  25. Love the track workout because you just know it is going to hurt so good, but it is short and sweet.

    I am a mile repeater with 400m Rest Interval.

    Warm up for 20 minutes then do 3×1 mile repeats with 400m RI followed by a 20 minute cool down and go home.

  26. I am learning to love track work, but mostly from reading blogs like yours and thinking man I need to get my ass in gear and do these things :)

    800s are a great workout, my plan called for 400s then 1K repeats not sure why it skips 800s

  27. Bart knows what he is talking about.

  28. If I weren’t such a wimp, I’d like track workouts a whole lot more. I did a couple during marathon training last spring, and I actually saw a difference in speed once I worked up the audacity to push myself harder.

    I haven’t done Yasso 800s, but my previous track workouts usually consisted of mile repeats w/ a 400m recovery jog in between.

  29. whoa wicked cool! never heard of bart’s 800s before but it really makes sense! can’t wrap my brain around that one.

    nice workout! looking forward to following your training to get sub 3:20!

  30. Welcome back to the track Em. Look forward to seeing you more often now that IMLP training is over.

    A lot of comments have mentioned an apprehension about hitting the track. First off speedwork is good for everyone. It won’t always be easy but I promise it will become one of your favorite workouts. Second you don’t have to start at the track. One of the best ways to get started is striders. At the end of a distance run find an empty sidewalk or field where you can run for 100 meters. Let the first 20 meters be an easy build up to speed, about 80-90% of your max, or as fast as you can go while maintaining good form. Imagine it’s the end of your race and you are trying for a photo perfect finish kick. Give yourself enough time to recover 15-45 seconds (as you improve you’ll need less time) and go again. 4-6 striders after a run help build speed, strength, and I find it helps flush out your muscles so you feel lighter/quicker at the start of your next run.

  31. Just literally getting back from a track workout that I dominated. So at this point in time, I love them! I like the ladder – 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400 – it’s a beast of a mountain to climb.

  32. Not a mega-watt fan of speed workouts, but I do enjoy some Yasso’s. I love Bart! I got to meet him earlier this year at a lecture he gave, he is such an amazing speaker, and soooo awesome. I just may have a crush on him!

  33. Congrats on getting back into the track workouts!! I’m one week out from my first Ironman and it has been very helpful to have the advice on your posts through your whole ironman journey and recovery process. Congrats on your accomplishments and good luck with your next phase of training. Favorite track workout for me would definately have to be mile repeats :)

  34. I am just writing to make you know what a awesome experience my wife’s daughter had reading your web site. She learned some issues, which included what it is like to possess an ideal giving style to get certain people without problems gain knowledge of selected hard to do things. You really did more than her expectations. Many thanks for producing these productive, trusted, revealing and cool tips on this topic to Jane.

  35. Hey Emily, quick question – what do you do for recovery in between each of the 800s?

  36. I tried my first Yasso 800s today and it was pretty fun (and hard!) How much to you run or rest between each 800?

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