Breaking the Wall

July 09, 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

A.M. 15.2 with Jeff in 1:59:06. Did 5x400 with 400 recovery jog after about 2.4 warm-up. I was hoping to hit 72-73, but with Jeff's help it went a lot better. 71.0 - 70.1 - 67.8 - 68.7 - 70.5.

A thought on quarters or any intervals for that matter. The main purpose of those for a marathoner is to learn to run with good form. To accomplish that purpose we need to choose the pace carefully. The idea is to run fast enough so that anaerobic bear will ride you your back if you run with bad form, but slow enough that he will not ride on your back regardless of your form. So suppose with bad form the anaerobic bear starts feeling a whole lot heavier between 70 and 71. Or in other words if you hit that quarter in 70 with good form, you feel the comfort of 71. If you run it in 71 it is comfortable regardless of the form. If you run it in 69 it is uncomfortable regardless of the form.

So in that example - the problem with 71 is that you can keep running with bad form and you do not feel it. The problem with 69 is that it is so painful that even if you improve the form you do not notice a whole lot of difference. Another problem with 69 is that you start training anaerobic bear tolerance. Which means that the pace at which you feel the difference between a good and a bad form becomes faster without any improvement in long distance performance. This also has a side effect of faster fuel burn at any speed, which leads to a spectacular wall experience in the marathon. This is why it is so common to see a post-collegiate star that should be running no slower than 2:13 barely manage 2:30 or worse in his first marathon. Too much anaerobic tolerance from all the brutal track workouts in college (and likely post-college as well, since he is used to training that way), so the metabolism shifts, 5:00 is a jog for him, but all of a sudden he gets past 15 and he cannot do 6:00, then he gets past 20, and he cannot even do 6:30. This takes some time to overcome.

However, if you can just feel that balance of speed, you can achieve good results. The form will smooth out, and the performances in all distances from the mile to the marathon improve at the same time.

There is really no formula to calculate that speed even if you know your race performances because different people could have a different degree of anaerobic tolerance even if they have the exact same race times. You need to do it by feel. One way you would know you've done it right is that you'll notice that as the workout progresses your subsequent intervals keep getting faster and you cannot quite understand why because you are not working any harder. The form feels smoother, you start developing a greater measure of harmony and balance. You are able to enjoy the speed without paying too great of a price in terms of pain.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 16:52. Julia and Benjamin, still sick, ran only 1 mile with us in 9:23. Then Jenny closed with a 7:29. 0.25 with Joseph in 2:36. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:35. 

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 15.20
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
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