Breaking the Wall

September 17, 2019

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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: 90.98 Year: 2713.79
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1576.28
Neon Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 22.05
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Adam. Adam was the lab rat today, wore the HRM. His HR at 8:00 pace was 160. Oddly high, but he is conversational at that pace, and his resting HR is fairly high as well - 52. However, still Jeff's resting HR is about the same, and his HR does not get that high when he is as conversational as Adam.

I did a post-VPB acceleration which gave me some tempo running. Then we did 2x400 with essentially full rest. First one was 81.9. Adam's HR made it to 175. On the second one we got 85.6, and Adam's HR maxed out at 177. This is odd again. Based on Adam's conversational inclinations 8:00 for him is no harder than 6:40 for me. At 6:40 my HR is around 130. When I run a hard quarter (67) I max out at around 160. So 23% increase. Adam could only manage a 10% increase and it was not like he did not try. After two quarters in spite of a low HR increase he felt very fatigued.

We decided to measure his max HR. While Adam stopped to stretch a guy ran by us that knew who I was but I did not recognize him. He greeted me in Russian and demonstrated a reasonable degree of fluency in the follow-up comment. Provo-Orem area is very unusual. Right off the bat I could think of 4 guys in the area fluent in Russian that can do no worse than finish within 1 minute behind me in a 5 K. Not that my 5 K abilities are that great, but only a small percentage of the population would make the 1 minute back or faster cut off. So to find at least 4 Russian speakers in a population of about 200,000 that meet the requirement is remarkable.

On the max HR test Adam was supposed to run 7:00 pace for a mile and then floor it in the next quarter. He only made it to the mile in 6:59. His HR maxed out at 180 and he was not able to continue. This is just plain odd and wrong. Why in the world can his HR not go above 180 when he gives it all, while he is very comfortable and conversational at 160? Some kind of chronic nervous system fatigue. And it also comes on so suddenly. You cannot write it off as the lack of aerobic fitness. Adam has been running consistently enough to where stuff like this should not kill him.

Nervous system fatigue is an intriguing subject. One could argue that you always slow down due to nervous system fatigue. The slow down always happens because the brain is unable to override the negative feedback from the body. We call it cardio fatigue when the heart so weak that it produces too much negative feedback. We call it muscular fatigue when the acidity of the muscles is the driver of the negative feedback. But what about if the negative feedback is coming from somewhere else, or the brain is oversensitive to it? How do you deal with it? One naive solution is speedwork. Desensitize it. It does solve the problem when we are dealing just with an oversensitive brain. But there is another aspect. What if the brain does not have the drive to sustain a level of activity for a long period of time? Not sure if there is a physiology term for it, but I would call it neural endurance. The ability to fire BAM-BAM-BAM signals for a long time. From what I've observed, anaerobic speed work will desensitize the brain in three weeks and then will not do it any more (you can puke to death in your workouts with no results after that) but it does nothing to improve the BAM-BAM-BAM ability. In fact, done too much too often it reduces the neural endurance because the brain/nervous system can take only so much agitation. Even brisk aerobic runs (20 - 40 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace) done daily produce too much agitation and cut my BAM-BAM-BAM ability.

I wonder if the BAM-BAM-BAM ability accounts for 90% of the Quality X. How about that for scientific terminology? When you can feel it but do not know what it is called, invent a term. That is how all the scientific terms were invented to begin with anyway, except they have more scientific sounding names because the papers had to be published.

Cool down with Adam, finished 13 with Jeff, ran a mile alone, and another with Julia in 10:05. Total of 15.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:01 with Jenny running the first 1.5 with us in 12:47. 3 more after that, total time 39:51 for 5 miles.

Five Fingers - 625.84 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.60Total Sleep Time: 8.10
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