While researching marathon training plans (which I will address in a later post) I came across a few interesting articles that discuss different techniques for predicting one’s marathon finish time. I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical, but as I delved further into the topic and those behind them I began to see that there’s actually some basis of truth and science to these predictive techniques.
The first method to predict one’s finish time is the Yasso 800. Named for Bart Yasso, an accomplished runner, athlete, and senior contributor at Runner’s World, the Yasso 800 claims to predict the athlete’s marathon finish times based on his or her 800 meter time. It’s a really simple gauge and here’s how it works:
If you want to run a 3:30 marathon, train to run a bunch of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats.
Of course, this is not a one of session. The idea is to run these Yasso 800s every couple of weeks during the course of the training, and to increase one’s speed from one session to the next. For my own marathon training plan, I am including 4 dedicated sessions as part of my speed work, beginning with 4 repeats and working up to 8 repeats. The last session will be two weeks before the marathon, to avoid placing unnecessary stress on my legs in the final build up. My goal for the marathon is four hours, but for the Yasso 800s I am hoping to be able to average out at 3:40 by the time I get to the final set of repeats.
I also read some articles by and about Jeff Galloway’s training methods, and in particular his miracle mile. Personally, I’m not a fan of Galloway’s conservative methods but that just may be because I find them to be oriented towards beginners. There’s nothing wrong with the run/walk method, I have used it on occasion but I would not rely on it as the foundation of a training program at this stage in my development. Anyway, back to the miracle mile. Essentially, what Galloway is saying is to:
Choose a mile within the course of a run, and time that segment specifically. The mile should be run at about 80-90% capacity. Take the time and then adjust it to reveal the predicted maximum mile pace for a typical race. The adjustment factors are 5K (+33 seconds), 10K (x 1.15), half-marathon (x 1.2), and marathon (x 1.3).
Over time and through training, the athlete should improve his or her mile time so it’s advisable to recalculate every couple of months. I don’t know how much confidence I have in the miracle mile method – I’ve tried a couple of calculations off the top of my head, and the predictions come back slower than those from the Yasso 800s. Maybe I’m just being too optimistic and over-rating my own abilities, but I’ll come back to this topic when I have some concrete examples and we’ll see just how well the two pan out.
Use the comments to let me know if you have any experience of either method and how accurate they were for you.