Breaking the Wall

August 07, 2020

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran a little later in the morning because Jeff and Kimia went to the temple on an early assignment. Ran with Jeff and Mary Ann. Benjamin and Jenny joined us on bikes for a part of it. Sarah was supposed to pick them up fairly early, but due to a miscommunication  they ended up staying with us longer, and we also ended up running longer, total of 12.75.

We warmed up 2.62, then Jeff and I did The Interval. I think I'll call it that for lack of a better name. I am starting to think that perhaps doing several aerobically targed intervals is a waste of distance. I will argue that the aerobic system is not fully engaged for about the first 5 minutes of the interval if the rest is more than a 200 meter jog. Here is why. I will use an example for simplicity of illustration. Suppose I am to run a mile interval in 5:10 at a steady pace. At the start my HR is around 100. After the first quarter it is maybe 150. At half mile it will climb to 160. Then close to the end of the interval it may get up to 165. If I keep going it will stabilize around 168.

So my aerobic requirements to sustain 5:10 pace require an HR of 168. It means, in other words, that in order to run 5:10 I need at least as much energy as my heart can give at that rate. So if I run 5:10 pace at a lower heart rate, then I need to make up for the balance of energy that is not coming from the heart. By definition that is anaerobic energy. I could actually care less if it is aerobic or anaerobic after all. I should be using different terms. Sustainable and unsustainable. For the first five minutes of any interval I will be practicing using unsustainable energy.

So I need to keep it longer. And if I stop, then I will have to waste another 5 minutes of the next interval in the unsustainable energy development zone. That is 5 minutes of high intensity running that stresses out the nervous system without developing long race specific sustainable energy adaptations. So then just run all of it at once.

So we did The Interval. A little different today. I wanted to measure how fast Jeff could run half a mile off 5:20 pace. We did 1.25 in 6:40 evenly paced, no more than 1 second off at any point. Having a mark every 100 meters really helps. Benjamin rode along with us for that part. Then Jeff just floored it and I tried to hang on. I fell back a bit before the quarter and finished it in 66 seconds, 7:46 for 1.5. I was happy with that. Jeff finished the last half mile in 2:10. I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely some food for thought.

I jogged until Benjamin caught up to me, then I felt very good after 200 meters of jogging, so to reduce Jeff's wait I picked up in the next 200 and ran it in 41 seconds. We ran a long and adventurous cool down, ran into Adam in the process, borrowed his cell phone, eventually reached Sarah, and she picked up Benjamin and Jenny, then we ran home.

More thoughts on The Interval. The original purpose was to teach Jeff to run his dream 5 K pace starting immediately with a high HR. But I think it has a pleasant side effect. You are running 5:20 pace thinking all the time that it is going to get faster. So subconsciously you try to conserve. But the triangle marks on the trail force you to keep the pace regardless. So you have only one choice - learn to run it more economically. I wonder if that is what happened to us, now 5:20 pace is easy enough for Jeff to run a half mile in 2:10, and for me to run a quarter in 66 after 1.25. If so, this idea deserves quite a bit of attention. The number one reason to do tempo runs is to learn to run economically at race pace. We do not do those for aerobic development. They are too short. The focus is neurological adaptations.

So maybe something like this for a tempo run. A mile and a quarter half-marathon pace, then a quarter really fast, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then back to half marathon pace for a mile, another quarter hard, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then keep repeating the cycle until you cannot do the hard quarter more than 5 seconds faster than the half-marathon pace. This way you learn to be economical at long race paces, get some speed in the legs, learn to surge, and learn to kick. It needs to be continuous, though. Jogging in between is good for a top-end leg power workout, but not for building long race stamina.

A 200 meter jog in between long intervals in essence is a lip service to the gods of interval training,  or another words an attempt to sit on two chairs at once. It will work for building 5 K and longer race stamina better than a longer jog, but the most effective is to do one long interval with strategically varying pace, the pace never being slower than marathon race pace.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:46, Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:14. 2 with Benjamin in 17:41.

Saucony Type A Miles: 12.75
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From wheakory on Fri, Apr 03, 2009 at 17:45:26 from

How did you feel after you completely floored it. Did you need to relax back down to an easier aerobic pace. Did you do another anaerobic interval.

Would this almost be the samething as doing 800 or 1000 repeats?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 03, 2009 at 18:51:18 from


I ran only one interval, 1.5 miles in 7:46, 1.25 at 5:20 pace, then a quarter in 66. When I floored it I did not feel good, but good enough to make it to the quarter. As soon as I floored it, I felt like I was half way through an all out 800.

Running 800 or 1000 intervals is a waste in my opinion. The nervous system is better trained with explosive sprints, 200s and quarters. The sustainably energy mode is better trained with a continuous run. 800-1600 range is a waste for sustainable energy training because you run most of the interval in the unsustainable mode. It is also a waste for the nervous system training because the pace is too slow to challenge it like you would in a shorter interval.

From wheakory on Fri, Apr 03, 2009 at 19:14:39 from

I agree 800's or 1000's is a waste of time if your running marathon and maybe even so Half Marathons. Tempo runs better suit this type of race.

It makes my wonder then why are these training sessions in so many Marathon training programs? What do you think about hill repeats for marathon training?

But 800's and 1000's are definitely important techniques for 5k's and 10k's. You would then get some benefit out of that.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 03, 2009 at 22:37:38 from

No, 800 and 1000s are important for the mile, and then you should do them fast with very long recoveries. They are not very helpful for a 5 K unless the recovery is ridiculously short, in which case you may just as well have no recovery. However, a certain level of 5 K fitness is important for the marathon. You cannot run the marathon faster than you run the 5 K.

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