Breaking the Wall

April 03, 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: 211.63 Year: 851.13
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: 1679.47
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Daniel, Matt, and Mary Ann. Jeff slept in, will run in the afternoon. We ran 7 together, then dropped off Daniel, ran another mile and then Matt needed to turn towards BYU. So I stayed on the trail, and Matt and Mary Ann ran towards BYU with the expectation to flirt. Total of 10 miles in 1:16:39. Interestingly enough, add another hour and you get Hobbie's marathon PR.

Did explosive sprints. I think they have done some magic in the last month. On December 31 I raced a 5 K in 17:03 on a course and under the conditions very similar to the one last Saturday. The only  difference I would consider material is that I ran the first one alone and the one last Saturday drafting. But I do not think I could draft up 42 seconds. Maybe 20. The other 20 I think are a legitimate improvement in fitness.

The feeling in the 5 K on Saturday was also very different compared to the 5 K a month ago and the half-marathon two weeks ago. I felt some power in the legs, they were not caving. That is why I think I was able to negative split the race. I have never been able to negative split a 5 K before, the race is just so fast that my legs get too tired to run the last mile any faster than the average pace.

That gets me thinking. In 2005 I worked a lot on explosive power. Then I did an 800 meter time trial (in 2:14), and I was able to even split it. Makes me wonder if the explosive power for a distance runner correlates with the ability to finish strong, and I am not talking about the kick, but the entire second half of the race.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:44. Then ran with Benjamin and Jenny. We did a warm-up of 0.5 in 4:22, then ran fast. Jenny went the first quarter with us, Benjamin and I ran 0.5 hard then jogged and waited for Jenny. Then we jogged to the finish of Jenny's 1.5 - her time was 12:58. Benjamin and I finished his 2 miles, his total time was 15:57. Jenny's quarter was around 1:41, Benjamin's half mile was 3:11.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 13.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From paul on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:44:37

Wouldn't "explosive power" correlate well to anaerobic and V02Max conditioning? Seems like those would be need to close well in a 5K or 10K, perhaps half marathon too.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:42:09

There are a number of aspects involved in being able to close strong. The muscle fiber needs to be structurally intact, there has to be enough fuel, and the nervous system has to cooperate. I believe the explosive power training improves the nervous system aspect, which is critical for a runner who is aerobically developed. He can bring in plenty of oxygen to run aerobically at very high intensities, but the nervous system may get tired of firing so hard for so long.

The way explosive training can overcome it - when high force production is required even for a very brief period of time, the fibers have to learn to fire more in sync, they cannot slouch around anymore, they become more obedient. Even though we think of explosive training in terms of fast twitch fibers and anaerobic energy mechanism, if 80% of your muscle is made of slow-twitch fibers, and you are trying to produce maximum force you will learn how to recruit your slow twitch fibers efficiently because they will due to their sheer number have to contribute a lion's share of the force. Since it is more of a matter of skill than fitness, you need to do it for a very short period of time, as soon as you stop doing it right you need to stop, and try again when you are ready.

There is also a fitness aspect involved. When a fiber is hypertrophied each contraction produces more power. Thus to run the same pace you need to hit fewer motor units per second. If the nervous system is getting fatigued, this could be helpful.

From the above, it sounds like the solution is simple - weight training or hills. But it is not that simple. Improper weight training can cause a motor unit firing coordination discord, so you become very good at one particular weight lifting exercise but not any better at running. To get an idea of this discord - try running sub-5:00 pace immediately after riding a bike for 5 miles up hill. Running uphill can overload the nervous system so the number of motor units per second it can fire goes down. So your individual fibers get stronger, but you are running slower.

It is a tricky balance game. All I can say after struggling to understand this for the last 24 years is that God made this all and man has no chance of figuring out how to use it unless he humbles himself and asks of God.

From paul on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:10:40

I don't have the attention span to read all that, so I'll just assume that you agree with me.

From seeaprilrun on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 at 21:29:04

I have read some articles in the most recent version of Running Times as well as some online articles about "explosive" training for distance runners and pylometrics. The drills that have been described are similar to what you are doing and they had some interesting scientific evidence to support it. It sounds like you are really on to something.

From Leandra on Tue, Feb 03, 2009 at 12:06:29

Thanks for the welcome on my blog. I'm very impressed with your running abilities. Good luck with your goals as well!

From Mary Ann Schauerhame on Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 13:22:22

Hope this doesn't scare off any other guys! I'm embarrassed :) I just didn't want to run alone. You're funny Sasha!

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