Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 800M Special

Normally, I do not like to post on back-to-back days; but then again, it’s not everyday that I finish a training workout so grueling that it garners commentary from a friend of mine who’s used to seeing me after speedy workouts before. He took one look at me as I limped into the locker room after changing and said, “Geez. You look like you just ran a marathon, what happened?” Well, I got two words for you my friend, Yasso 800s.

Now I know some of you run these as part of your regular speedwork routine for marathon training. If you do, I admire and congratulate you. Me, on the other hand, have never done these before. Yes, you heard right. Never, as in NEVER EVER. In fact, I’ve never done any speedwork on a track before. I remember trying once and got yelled at for not knowing which lane I was supposed to use and inconveniencing the faster college track guys running in the inner lanes while having to weave and dodge the slower runners and walkers in the outer lanes. As a result, I’ve always avoided the shorter distance workouts which necessitates the use of a track and stuck to mile repeats which I could run anywhere I want with my trusty Garmin. For this training cycle however, I decided to experiment a little bit and snug in a 8x800m workout as suggested by the Pfitz 18/55 plan just to mix things up. In retrospect, I think it popped up at a good time for me because as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been struggling big time with my speed game and needed a solid faster workout both to get my legs back on track and to gauge where I’m at physically and mentally heading into the stretch portion of marathon training.

Having never done 800s before, I was so nervous and anxious thinking about this session that barely any real work got done today. Luckily, all my patients canceled or rescheduled on me today so I was free to ponder and anticipate about how the whole thing would go down. I planned out my appropriate pace (2:47-2:54 for 800m according to McMillian), converted the pace to mins/km (so I can gauge my speed on the Garmin as I’m running) and mapped out an appropriate “track” on googlemaps all in the office before leaving work. To escape the multitudes flocking around Central Park, I ran over to the calmer and less traveled East Side Drive to prepare my workout once I signed off at the hospital. After some brief stretching and a couple of warmup laps to identify appropriate landmarks that would serve as the starting and finish lines of my unofficial 800m track, I was ready to roll.

Here’s how it went down for me today:
  • Planned - 8 x 800m at 2:47-2:55 pace
  • Interval 1: 2:45 [Started off faster than I should, rookie mistake]
  • Interval 2: 2:48 [Ouch, okay this is not as easy as I imagined]
  • Interval 3: 2:54 [Took this one a bit easy, almost too easy]
  • Interval 4: 2:49 [Back on target, but already getting winded]
  • Interval 5: 2:52 [A side stitch, dared not to stop, cursing Yasso]
  • Interval 6: 2:51 [Gosh, this is hard, fighting mental demons]
  • Interval 7: 2:52 [Ouch, the side stitch returns. Must. Battle. On]
  • Interval 8: 2:50 [Finishing up, finishing strong. Yay, I survived!]

To say this was a tough workout is like saying this country has a small problem with healthcare. Um, yeah, it completely drained me and left me cramping and panting like a dog in heat on the side of the road. I must have looked like a complete mess running my 4 mile cooldown at 8:01 min/mi pace, which is slower and seemed to last longer than my 20 miler over the weekend. No wonder my friend gave me a weird eye and feared for my well-being when we met up afterwards (even after I showered and cleaned myself up!)

So what did I take away from this workout? I think my speed is starting to come back, although I am reluctant to extrapolate anything from these 800m times. Although there are some who will look at these numbers and claim that I’ll run a 2:52 or 2:54 marathon, I remain unconvinced that 800 times translate at all to the full 26.2. However, I do think that running 8 x 800s is good preparation for a half marathon, which I’ll run this weekend and then use that time to predict an appropriate finish for my marathon .

Let’s hope my legs can run hard and long as well as they run fast and short. Then and only then will I officially announce to the rest of the running world that I’m finally back.


Katie said...

Great workout! 800 meter repeats is the hardest workout for me. I prefer 1 milers or 400s.

I'm not sure I believe the Yasso 800 translation to marathon time either. I can do the workout faster than my marathon time. Still, it's an incredible workout. Good luck with your race this weekend!

Jamie said...

Nice job on the 800's! That is a seriously tough workout. Way to hit your target time on each one!

B.o.B. said...

Lookin good Lam! I am a big fan of the 800s. (That half mile was my specialty in track.)

You are already seeing your speed return. Keep it up.

(Thanks for the hopes on my CP. I hope I don't need them either!)

Spike said...

sweet job on the 800s! those are some sweet times. and it's you blog and we love you, so post as often as you wish.

I've got the same workout next week, you are now my inspiration.

Running and living said...

Yay, you are back. And what better come back than a speed workout? You know I love those (I know, I am weird). So, McMillian believes that the average time that you complete 10 X800m repeats is your marathon time minus 5 minutes, (e.g., if I run 10X800m in 3:25 each, I can run a marathon @ 3:30). Oh, and you should be recovering for the amount of time you run the interval in. Based on this, you are going to run a sub 3 marathon! Hurray!
P.S. Didn't you glow and have a big smile on your face after that workout?

The Happy Runner said...

Yay! What a tough workout but good for your gutting it out. For some reason, 800s are just really, really hard for me. I'm always impressed when people run them well, as you did.

Glad you are getting your speed back!

Anonymous said...

awesome 800s! i hate them with a passion beforehand but always end up feeling pleasantly exhausted afterward.

and yeah, i don't think they correlate 100% to predicted marathon times. but man, you are speedy! (at least to me heh)

X-Country2 said...

Yasso 800s are HARD! Good luck this weekend.

Biscuitman said...

Good job! Greg McMillan reckons that Yasso 800s over predict by about 5mins for an average marathon runner based on running 10x800m. So as a pace predictor its more about giving you confidence.
I averaged 2.45 for my last set of Yassos but I know I can't run a 2.45 marathon (2.50 would be nice though).

J said...

INTENSE!! 800m has to be my least favorite distance for intervals. And of course i ran it in track - go figure! Great job!

Anonymous said...

For never doing 800's I think you really nailed them, even with the side stitch. Great job Lam.

Good luck this weekend. I am sure your legs will be turning fast.


WOW!! That's all I have to say! :) What an awesome workout - great job on keeping the pace and really pushing through when it hurt or you had a side stitch. Good luck this weekend - you will totally rock the 1/2 Marathon! I can't wait to hear how you do!!!


Michelle said...

Those are some great and speedy Yasso's. It seems that the Yasso 800's are all the rage these days!

I am doing a Yasso workout tonight!!!

runner26 said...

holy hell that's fast! i have a question: did you jog for the same time (~2:50) between each one? i think that is part of the yasso deal--i have been a big fan in marathons past. one thing i also rememebr is working UP to 8-12 x 800 and not STARTING with 8...but that's just me and i am not a good benchmark for tough training workouts. you, on the other hand.. great job with these!!

NY Wolve said...

Way to persevere! Anything special about running 8 of them? Why 8 and not 4 or 10? Just curious...And what rest interval?

Betsy said...

You rocked that out! Well done, especially since you didn't run them on a track.

joyRuN said...

I still can't believe you'd never done Yasso's before. I thought I was the last holdout :)

I guess only time will tell if we can extrapolate your speedy results to a sub-3 marathon...

aron said...

nice job!!! i like 800s, i think they are my favorite. i just dont like the long intervals workouts. off to read about your half marathon now :)

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