My wife would be happy to tell you that I have no lack of confidence, nor to I mind letting people know how awesome I am. She would tell you I have an opinion of myself that lives somewhere between arrogance and hubris. I however, don’t think of myself that way at all. I prefer to think that I am simply self-aware and have the uncommon knack of being able to objectively and accurately assess my abilities. So when I say something like “I could go out tomorrow and do 10×800 in 2:35 with 2:35 jogging rest and it wouldn’t even feel that difficult” I am not bragging, or guessing, or hoping, I am simply stating a fact.
One of the wonderful things about running is that when it comes to results there isn’t much gray area. Your times are your times. There are no refs to make bad calls, there are no teammates to drop the ball or to not come through with a single when you lead off the inning with a double. It is you, the distance and time. This makes predicting performance pretty simple, as long as you have enough data to draw from. After many years of both running and keeping a detailed log of my running, I know down to a few seconds how fast I can run any given workout. Races can be slightly harder to predict, because you are after all racing against others and not just racing the clock like in a workout, but even still there aren’t that many surprises when it comes to race results either.
It is for that reason I was annoyed when Mark Remy , editor-at-large for Runner’s World, posted this in response to my quote above… “I’ll call your bluff. Go try to run 10×800 in 2:35 with 2:35 jogging rest, then come back here and let us know how it went.” He as good as called me a liar, and that can not stand. I will now admit that I possess two seemingly contradictory character traits, confidence and a fragile ego. I don’t know which has gotten me into more trouble over the years but they often conspire to get me to do stupid things. In this instance the stupid thing they got me to do was not 10×800 but to care what some random person said on the internet. While Mark Remy may be an editor-at-larger for Runner’s World, once he makes a post on a message board he is just another random person saying stupid crap online like the rest of us.
Now on to the important stuff. The workout.
I did not “go out tomorrow” to do the workout, but only because “tomorrow” was Yom Kippur and I was home with Hazel all day and could not leave her alone to go do a track workout. So I did the workout the day after “tomorrow” as it were. After work I drove out to the Nazareth College track. I like doing workouts at Naz because it is close to Hazel’s daycare, I’m friends with the xc/track coach and my wife is a Professor there, also, rarely is there anything going on that prevents me from using the track between 3-5 pm. Just to make extra sure the track would be free I check the schedule and nothing appeared to be going on. I arrived for my workout at 2:50 pm to find the women’s soccer team beginning to set up for a game that would start at 4 pm, so much for the best laid plans. I decided to try to squeeze in the workout anyway and headed off for a 2 mile warmup.
When I returned from my warm up I went to find the soccer coach to ask about using the track during the game, as I expected to finish my workout about 10 minutes after the game started. He informed me I would have to talk to refs who wouldn’t show up until about 3:45. This turned out pretty well as I spent the first half of the workout worrying about whether or not I was going to get booted off the track, which kept my mind off the monotony of running 7 miles on the track.
I got my video camera positioned at an angle I hoped would catch most of the track, but it was very sunny and I had trouble seeing the tiny Flip Camera screen in the glare. I’ve never been much of a videographer, I much prefer still shots, but I wasn’t going for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography so I hit the record button and got to work.
I have been mucking about on the internet for a long time. I will not claim to have used one of those old modems where you stuck your phone in a box, but I do remember when 56K dial-up was all the rage. Having spent so many years online, I am very familiar with the phrase “picture or it didn’t happen.” That is one of the reasons I hate posting race reports without photographic evidence. Unfortunately despite my best efforts, I captured very little in the way of photographic evidence of my workout. I used a Flip Video camera from work, which is supposed to record an hour of HD video, and even though I charged it all morning it died after 5 minutes of filming. I did not know this until the workout finished or I would have grabbed my iPad and propped it against the fence and recorded the video with that instead. So for those of you married to “picture or it didn’t happen” feel free to call me a liar and stop reading here. For the rest of you here is the few minutes of video I got followed by a rep by rep break down of the workout.
- 2:35 / 2:05 jogging recovery went out in 72 and backed way off the second lap
- 2:34 / 2:05 jogging recovery little better pacing still went out too fast
- 2:33 / 2:15 jogging recovery slow first lap then over compensated on the second
- 2:34 / 1:50 jogging recovery was really starting to worry about fitting in the workout ran the recovery too fast
- 2:34 / 2:20 water break jogging back and forth around the start line
- 2:32 / 2:30 jogging recovery feeling pretty peppy after the water, still worried about the running out of time
- 2:35 / 2:25 jogging recovery got off track on the first lap as I noticed the refs come out to the field had to bust it on the second lap
- 2:34 / 2:10 jogging recovery but was feeling much better having spoken to the refs during my last recovery lap
- 2:33 / 2:25 jogging recovery excited to almost be done, this workout is really tedious
- 2:32 thought about really going all out on the last one but the workout had gone so well so far I didn’t want to do anything stupid like run a 67 second final lap and tweak my knee.
So there you have it. 10×800 meters in 2:33.6 (5:09 per mile pace) with 400 meters jogging rest (about 2:15 rest). Was it an easy workout? No I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was certainly easier than many workouts I’ve done. Much easier than say the 7 miles of [ hard 1000 meters easy 600 meters] where hard was 5:40 pace and easy was 6:10 workout a bunch of us did this spring before I ran a 1:16:24 half marathon. Really the hardest part of this type of workout for me is remembering to stay within myself and not get carried away in the middle. If I had done 2 more reps it would have become hard, but maybe I could then rename the workout Perks’ 800’s.
I will stand by my original post that Yasso’s 800’s are neither a good predictor of marathon performance nor are they a progression of workouts that are particularly beneficial to one wanting to race a marathon. Maybe very early in a marathon training cycle a workout like this might have some use, but late in a training cycle, which is where Bart positions this 10×800 workout, I think more marathon pace specific workout would take precedence. I will also stand by my statement that people in general and journalist in particular have a very poor understanding of the difference between causation and correlation. If anyone is confused by the difference I’m sure Mike Insler Roadkill Racer and Econ Professor at the Naval Academy will be happy to enlighten you.
If anyone still wants to insist this is a good marathon predictor workout then I will gladly accept my new 2:33:40 marathon PR.
I would be happy to do the workout again if someone from a certain magazine wants to send out a camera crew.