Breaking the Wall

December 03, 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: 304.65 Year: 3606.17
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 806.96
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Daniel, Dustin, and Mary Ann. Daniel went 4, Dustin 8, Mary Ann 7. I did 10 in 1:14:51. Mary Ann was late, but then she drove around and found us. This was a great investigative feat. I think she could land a job with FBI.

With the temperatures of 21 F at the start I missed Al Gore and the global warming convention again. I think they should have had it in Utah instead of Poland. Or even better, somewhere in the US Northeast, maybe Maine.

Dustin looked at my hip imbalance and suggested some exercises. He thinks my right hip rotators are weak/deactivated. His suggestion was to work on the hip rotators on both sides with the 2:1 right/left repetition ratio. I am excited - something new to try.

During the run I presented an argument that Mary Ann could possibly have a 2:30 marathon in her. Both Dustin and Mary Ann herself were skeptical. I presented my reasoning: my PRs up to 800 meters are slightly slower than hers (59.5 vs 58.0 quarter, 2:12 vs 2:11 800),  when I ran 40 miles a week I ran 4:26 in the 1500 vs her 4:29, and 16:38 5 K vs her 17:30. My mileage even then was more consistent than hers ever.  So who knows what might happen at 80 miles a week over 5 years. Here is the funny part. Dustin says - well, you are still 20 seconds faster than her in the 1500. I am puzzled. He says - your 4:26 is for the mile, right? No, Dustin, for 1500! If I could run 4:26 for the mile I would have had no worries about the new OTQ 2:19 standard!

P.M. 1 with Julia in 10:16, 2 with Benjamin in 16:58, Jenny ran the first 1.5 in 13:03.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
From Phoenix on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 13:08:14

Its a slippery argument.

Sasha, the same reason you are relatively strong over the marathon is the same reason you are relatively weaker at the middle distance. They are two sides of the same coin and causally linked.

No doubt 800/mile speed is a tremendous asset, and with a high training volume can be capitalized on in the marathon, but it has its limitations.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 16:02:22


The way I see it - to run well in any distance from 100 meters to the marathon you need to have what I call Quality X or in other words be a good runner. Predisposition to a distance is not nearly as important as Quality X. If you have wrong predisposition you just change the distance. Lack of Quality X is a much more serious problem.

Quality X even in distance runners manifests itself in distances as short as 100 meters. Your most marathon-predisposed 2:06 marathoners can still run 12.5 100 meters.

So I get a lot more excited when I find somebody with already existing speed that is adequate to reach a world-class time in the marathon. There is roughly (in my estimate) a 30% chance that he might be suited for the marathon and will run world-class times if he does the work. If he does not have the speed, we already know his limits off traditional marathon training. The only way to make him go past those limits is to discover a new training method that raises Quality X, which currently does not exist, or at least I've seen no reports of any training that has successfully improved Quality X by a significant margin. I define success as "without increases in aerobic capacity, improve the performance on every distance from 100 meters to 5000 meters by at least 10%". Perhaps "without increases in aerobic capacity" is redundant since we are asking for improvement in sprints, not just distance events, but I like that for emphasis - we are looking to improve sustainable yet non-aerobic resources of running speed.

From Phoenix on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 16:12:15

Interesting take and well said.

I suspect Quality X is neurological in origin. In the long-term, it all boils down to increasing your running economy. I think that is the biggest benefit of high mileage over years. Big miles in the short term produce some nice cardiovascular and muscle metabolic adaptation, but that tops off pretty soon--6 months to 2 years. Yet, improvement can and does continue for some. In every longitudinal study I know of, long-term improvement was due to increased economy.

(I would like to see Baldini try to run a 12.5).

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 16:48:04

According to

Baldini has run 3000 in 7:43, 5000 in 13:23, and 10000 in 27:43. Unfortunately for anything shorter we would have to extrapolate. But I would highly doubt he is that much different from Ryan Hall. Assuming Ryan Hall speed drop profile from 800 to 5000, this would give Baldini about 1:52 800 (Hall has run 1:51). Which is 8x100 in 14.0 strung together. I've heard claims of people being able to sprint 800 meters at their 100 meter speed without a bear on their back, but have never seen a hard proof, and I highly doubt it is possible.

Based on my experience - I've never been out-PRed in any longer race by anybody who I out-PRed in 100 meters. I am sure it is possible to lose speed from 100 to 800 less than I do, but I would expect only marginally. Assuming Baldini loses speed from 100 to 800 like I do, that would give him 11.8. So he would have to retain speed a whole lot better than me, to the degree I've never seen in anybody, from 100 to 800 to not be able to run 12.5.

From Phoenix on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 17:09:50

Sound logic.

My only counter is how were they tuned at the times of their respective performances? What could Ryan Hall run the 800m in now? What about on marathon day? The same for Baldini.

I have repeatedly beat people over 800 meters who had both better 400 and 5,000 speed. Meaning, Runner Y (since we've already used X for the day) beats me at 100m, 200m, meters, I get closer at 400 meters, I win at 800m, I split 1500m 50/50 depending on the day, and then lose at 3000m and even more at 5k.

At some ultra marathon distance would you lose to someone with inferior speed?

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 17:45:21

We assume being tuned for the distance.

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