Breaking the Wall

November 24, 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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. Lots of snow, but runnable. Decent traction. Ran 15.2 in 1:57:12. Just for kicks we did a hard quarter on snow. 80 seconds with about a 70 second effort.

Had a discussion on muscle spindles, and the effect of hypersensitive spindles in hip flexors on running economy. My suspicion is that a hip flexor is the worst place for a runner to have a hypersensitive spindle because it will make the hip flexor contract to resist the stretch during the later phases of the ground contact as the body moves forward and the hip is extended. Such an inopportune hip flexor contraction will then having a braking effect on the forward motion. There is really no other joint I can think of where excessive stretch reflex is so undesirable when running.

The reason we got so technical in the discussion is that I've read some research showing that a trigger point is a bundle of hypersensitive spindle tissue, I do have some nasty trigger point in my right hip flexors, and my range of motion in the right hip extension when running is noticeably worse than on the left side. To make things more interesting, stretching the hip flexors has never done anything for my running speed. I can improve the static range of motion, but the stretch reflex resistance is still there.

So I have a thought on the importance of flexibility for a runner. A number of studies demonstrated that faster runners are not that flexible. Yet it is fairly obvious that if you have zero flexibility you will not run at all. So what's up? I've wondered about it for a while and never had anything meaningful to say except the obvious "you just have to have a balance". Now I think I finally have something worth sharing.

The flexibility in and of itself is not important. What is important is to have low antagonist muscle resistance in the critical range of motion in critical motions in critical joints. The only critical joint/motion I can think of the is the hip joint and the motion of extension. You do need to have a reasonable range of motion, enough to run, but that is good enough. You do not need a gymnast's range of motion or anywhere close.  In some joints/motions the high antagonist resistance may actually be good. E.g. knee flexion and dorsi-flexion. Not so high that you get injured, but as high as you can get away with. So that means it is good for the quads and the calves to be a little tight.

But when it comes to the hip joint, things are a little different because resistance to hip extension is a braking agent. Normal running range of motion is not too difficult to achieve. But we do not want just the range of motion. Improving the range of motion does us zero good if we did not reduce the stretch reflex of the hip flexors in the normal running range of motion. And stretching in some cases (maybe more often than in "some cases") can make it worse by irritating the spindle tissue and thus increasing the stretch reflex. The fix in this case would be to work on the trigger points in the hip flexors to eliminate them and restore the muscles to their normal state.

The above, of course, is all just theory now. I'll have a chance to test it this year.

P.M.  2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:19. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:26. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:38. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:25.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 17.95
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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