Breaking the Wall

July 11, 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: 51.55 Year: 2011.51
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: 881.43
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. We went to church in Eugene. It was only 3.5 miles away from the house. The ward was surprised to find a family of 10 walk in that nobody knew. We met a couple of runners there. One was a 4:22 miler back in 1948 in high school, and back then they ran the real mile, not 1600. The other was 35 years old, still running, personal best of 9:45 in 3200 in high school. Stevie did not want to stay in nursery, so I ended up taking him to the Elder's Quorum.

Friday night Jenny asked me a question about how to deal with the pre-race anxiety. I struggled with that question in my teenage years. It was a big deal. I wondered how in the world an Olympic athlete is able to deal with the pre-race pressure. After I came home from a mission I did not struggle with it as much anymore, the answer seemed to be intuitive, but I never had to explain it to somebody else. Challenged, I gave it some thought and tried to put into words what I knew. Then a few ideas came to me, and I saw them plainly. So here they are.

I recall a study done of performances by Kenyan distance runners vs US/European runners in high stakes competitions such as world championships and the Olympics. There was a pattern - Kenyans frequently ran PRs while the Westerners frequently bombed. The author of the study tried to find an explanation and reached for such odd things as the Kenyan tradition of boys being circumcised in their teenage years without a pain killer and with an expectation of showing no signs of pain. The answer is actually quite simple, I believe.

The key is Alma 5:27-28, and the key phrases there are "stripped of pride" and "sufficiently humble". Also, Doctrine and Covenants 88:6 with the key phrase being "descended below all things". One major driver of pre-race anxiety is the perceived pressure to perform and the worry of what others will think of you if you fail. Someone who grew up in the Kenyan-type poverty is vaccinated against that. He knows that there is no way that anybody will think of him below what he has already experienced so he is not too worried about that. The other key driver is the worry about the pain and your ability to push through it. Through my own racing and through pacing others I gained some understanding of this matter. This is how I prefer to describe it - at some critical point in the race you start to think that you are too good for the pain. Somehow in your subconscious mind you think that it is below the dignity of a human being to experience so much of it. So you slow down. Again, the root of the problem is the wrong kind of pride. You are not willing to descend below the pain. 

Through those experienced I gained an appreciation of the idea of Christ descending below all things - a frequently forgotten part of his Atonement. We often think about a mortal not being able to rise above - to travel at the speed of light, to command the mountains to move, etc, but we forget the limitation we have on descending below. No matter how hard we try our humility is limited - there is only so much beating we are willing to take before we call it quits. But Christ showed us perfection in this regard and challenged us to reach it. Running is a great tool for the purpose. 

To clarify we need to say that we are talking about true humility. Telling everyone around you how unprepared or unfit you are is actually a manifestation of disguised pride. True humility gives you the power to align yourself with the way things are which enables you to see clearly and follow the path to making them better. It gives you the strength to forget about the irrelevant and only focus on the fundamentals that matter. It gives you the power to succeed.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From josse on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 18:27:21 from

I like that, I have found that when I stopped worrying about all the superficial things and really listened to my body I preformed much better. It's hard to do though.

Are you running des news marathon this year?

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 17:08:06 from

Josse - I am running the marathon.

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