Coach Ray

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Fartlek Run
Beginner Training Marathon & Half Marathon's Run Sessions Triathlon Training

Friday Fartlek Run: Yasso 800’s

This session is great to improve speed for runners aiming for an event of any distance but it is especially beneficial for marathon runners.

Each week I will be posting the Friday Fartlek Run Sessions that you can do to enhance your running. Fartlek is a Swedish term that is often used by runners and it means speed-play. See a previous post about training intensity (levels) to know how hard to work.

I’ve written about Yasso 800’s before, back in 2015. You can read that article here. I wanted to write about that session again because I’ve now put myself through a sequence of the session over a number of weeks. I started off running four 800m reps, then a week later six of them, then eight of them in the wind and then a set of ten. A comparison of these sessions can be found after the description.

These sessions were developed and popularised by a Runner’s World editor Bart Yasso who noticed that your 800m rep times in minutes roughly corresponded to your marathon time in hours  i.e. an athlete who ran 3min 800s would go on to run a 3hr marathon etc.

Yasso 800s

  • 10min Warm Up Level II;
  • 4-10x 800m Level V, 1:1 Work to Rest Ratio;
  • 10min Cool Down Level II;
  • 10min Stretching

The warm up should be done at an intensity that is steady but not over consuming at Level II for ten minutes.

The main set is made up of between four and ten reps of 800m run at Level V where you target your marathon time in hours as your 800m time in minutes  i.e. if you are aiming for a 3:30hr marathon then you aim for 3:30min 800s. After you have run your 800s rest for an equal amount of time to what you just ran. I don’t get too pedantic. If I’m targetting 3:00 minutes and I run my 800m in 2:55 minutes I take the extra 5 seconds rest and have a full 3:00 minutes rest.

The Cool Down (CD) is at a low intensity, jogging (Level II) for a minimum of ten minutes.

Finish with 10 minutes stretching to assist with the recovery.

Here is a summary of my Yasso 800’s over the previous weeks.

Date 29-Dec-2016 5-Jan-2017 12-Jan-2017 19-Jan-2017 26-Jan-2017
Number of reps 4 6 8 10 10
Average Time 0:03:06 0:03:03 0:03:06 0:02:58 0:02:56
Deviation 0:00:03 0:00:03 0:00:05 0:00:02 0:00:02
Notes Hot Day Hot Day Windy Day Wet Underfoot Wet Underfoot
1 0:03:05 0:03:02 0:02:59 0:02:54 0:02:53
2 0:03:08 0:03:04 0:02:59 0:02:56 0:02:52
3 0:03:02 0:03:05 0:03:04 0:02:58 0:02:54
4 0:03:06 0:03:06 0:03:04 0:02:59 0:02:55
5 0:03:05 0:03:10 0:02:59 0:02:57
6 0:02:58 0:03:11 0:02:59 0:02:57
7 0:03:11 0:02:58 0:02:58
8 0:03:07 0:02:58 0:02:55
9 0:03:00 0:03:00
10 0:02:57 0:02:54


29 Dec 16

05 Jan 17

12 Jan 17

19 Jan 17

26 Jan 17

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729.

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If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 12 months ago.

For more great workouts see Coach Ray’s eBook: ‘Top 10 Workouts from Coach Ray – The Ten Most Popular Training Sessions from”.  Use the workouts within the eBook to enhance your fitness.



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Ray has competed in triathlons from sprint to ironman distance (both IM Taupo and Challenge Wanaka). Consequently he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complimenting other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments etc…). • Entering your first triathlon? • Stepping up to a longer distance? • Looking to go faster? • Wanting to turn previous negatives into positives? Ray has coached athletes to achieve these and more. Training programmes are accessible online, so athletes can be located anywhere and still reap the benefits of Ray’s coaching. Contact him to discuss how he can assist you to achieve your goals.
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