Breaking the Wall

August 15, 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ted called the night before and said he would be doing a fitness test with his cadets. I figured I join them. As usual, it took me a bit longer to get ready in the morning than I anticipated due to misplaced clothing items. So I got to the start of the test late. Due to the slippery road conditions, they were running their 2 mile time trial indoors. I took off the jacket and gloves, but still had my tights and T-shirt. Too hot for indoors.

Knowing that decided to run at a good tempo pace that would not overheat me. Was planning on about 11:00 - 11:05. Figured I would slow down on the second mile due to overheating. To my surprise, I managed a steady pace at a fairly comfortable effort. Most of the 0.2 laps in 1:05, occasionally 1:04, and there were a couple in 1:06 when I could not pass slower runners in time before hitting a congestion. On the last lap, I sped up a bit and ran 1:01, this would be 5:05 pace. Total time 10:45, with the splits of 5:23.5 and 5:21.5. HR was 163 at the mile, but then crept up to 168 before the last lap, and maxed out at 172 when I picked it up. 168 HR feels a lot more miserable outdoors. Ted ran 11:01, also a surprise considering his race, overall fatigue, and doing 101 sit-ups in 2 minutes + 83 push-ups in 2 minute prior to the run. I suppose Sunday rest did him some good.

Afterwards he and I ran a few more miles to make it 10 for me for the day.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Nick on Tue, Feb 27, 2007 at 22:42:22

Hey Sasha,

What does it mean to "go anaerobic"? I have heard multiple people say this on the blog, and I don't quite know what it means. Is it the point at which you feel that you will have to slow down later if you push hard now, or is it any pace that is harder than threshold?

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Feb 27, 2007 at 22:52:11

It is both. You can hold your threshold for as long as 1 hour. If you go faster than threshold, every second per mile costs you in the exponentially quicker arrival of fatigue.

When you run, you derive energy from two sources - aerobic (using oxygen) and anaerobic (not using it). The ultimate anaerobic run is 800 meters. The marathon is mostly aerobic, I believe 98%. 10 K is about 92% aerobic if I remember right.

From sammack on Tue, Feb 27, 2007 at 23:50:45

Sasha: Nice workout. Did you get the infamous "track hack" from running hard indoors? That's always the worst part of indoor track.

To throw in my two cents on the anaerobic question, from an exercise physiology standpoint, anaerobic refers to any energy system working in the body that doesn't require oxygen. These would be creatine phosphate stores (which you can go on for about 8 seconds) and glycogen used in glycolysis (about 1:30 if you're well-trained or a natural mid-d guy). Everything else involves burning O2 and the production of lactate--which contrary to popular belief is a useful fuel before it accumulates to the point where it can't be cleared fast enough (acidosis or, more simply, tying up).

The cool thing biologically is that you're usually using multiple systems in a race. For the real long stuff (e.g. marathon), you want to keep it almost all aerobic because you've got a virtually unlimited supply of fat to burn given its fantastic energy/mass ratio and only a finite amount of CP and glycogen.

You can assess the point where you're exceeding aerobic capacity by taking blood lactate measurements and looking for the point where you pass about 4 mmol lactate/L blood (this value is different for everyone and realistically you'd only do in a lab) or simply do it by heart rate.

Here's the useful part of my blathering: The heart rate point where you start going anaerobic is referred to in the literature as V4 after the 4 mmol of lactate; although we know by now that this is a misnomer since it's different for everyone. Anyway, in general as your exertion level increases, so does HR. This is because you're running almost all aerobic at those easier levels. More importantly for this discussion, this relationship is linear. If exertion is on the y-axis and HR is on the X, when you start seeing a less steep slope in your line (a break point), this is V4. It means that the heart can only output so much blood (take in O2 and clear CO2) and other (anaerobic) systems have started to compensate. You can find your own V4 with a good heart rate monitor and a little bit of desire to hurt.

To clarify Sasha's point, the 100 meter dash is actually the ultimate aerobic event. I'm guessing he said the 800 since what you're essentially being asked to do is stretch that 1:30 minutes of available energy into some time human beings can actually run. I'd say the 800 meters is the ultimate pain event!

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Feb 28, 2007 at 16:51:43

Sam - thanks for the explanations and clarifications. Yes, I did get a bit of a "track hack", but it was not bad.

The linear break method to detect my anaerobic threshold is a bit of a challenge, as I do not have a lot of room for maneuver once I cross it. Below is my regular HR data - varies plus or minus a couple of beats either way depending on the day, but fairly consistent, speed/HRM:

7.5 mph - 120

8.0 mph - 125

8.5 mph - 129

9.0 mph - 133

9.5 mph - 139

10.0 mph - 145

10.5 mph - 153

11 mph - 161

11.5 mph - 167

12 mph - 171

171 is as high as it will go without a hill. With a hill I can hit 175 for a very brief moment, but cannot sustain it. So at jogging speeds my dHR/dV is around 9 bpm/mph. When I approach my marathon race pace it is the highest - 16 bpm/mph. When I start approaching my 5 K race pace it drops to 8 bpm/mph.

I race a marathon at the HR of 157 when in good shape, around 90% of my max. I've also had a VO2 Max test done, which recorded 75.9 with RER hitting 1.00 at VO2 of around 68.

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