Breaking the Wall

August 19, 2019

Recent EntriesHomeJoin Fast Running Blog Community!PredictorHealthy RecipesSasha Pachev's RacesFind BlogsMileage BoardTop Ten Excuses for Missing a RunTop Ten Training MistakesDiscussion ForumRace Reports Send A Private MessageWeek ViewMonth View
15% off for Fast Running Blog members at St. George Running Center!


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: 160.46 Year: 2462.47
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Navy Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 1263.81
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Daniel, and Mary Ann. Dropped off Daniel and Mary Ann around 6.5. Mary Ann ran less today because she wanted to run a race at UVU later. Jeff and I finished 10 in 1:17:56. We did explosions, and I also did a 0.3 post VPB tempo at 5:30 pace.

Jeff and I discussed the importance of maximum leg power in the ability to negative split. My theory. Suppose you have two runners one named Powerhouse and the other Aerobic Animal. The Powerhouse is so strong he can run the same pace as the Aerobic Animal applying only 70% of his maximum force while the Aerobic Animal has to apply 80% of his maximum force. Both run at the same VO2 at that pace. The Powerhouse cannot go faster aerobically because he cannot bring in more oxygen. The Aerobic Animal cannot go faster aerobically because of neuro-muscular issues.

My prediction is that during the first half of a long race (5 K or longer), the Powerhouse and the Aerobic Animal will run alongside with equal degree of comfort. Then the Powerhouse will gradually pull away in the second half. Why? The Aerobic Animal will get tired for running at 80% of his maximum force for neuro-muscular reasons, and would have to slow down.  The Powerhouse was running only at 70%, he might not have any more oxygen, but he can keep the pace, and then even increase it in the last 2 minutes since he can afford to go into oxygen debt at that point, and his muscles can use that debt.

Ran 2 miles with Benjamin in 17:27 after finishing with Jeff.

P.M. 1.5 with Jenny in 13:07. Julia ran the first 1.5 with us in 9:09.

Brooks T4 Racing Flat Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From air darkhorse on Fri, Feb 06, 2009 at 12:34:00

That kind of ability is one of the reasons why women of similar VO2 max values do not run as fast as men generally. A prime example is Joan Benoit Samuelson with a VO2 max similar to Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. Another example would be Paula Radcliffe. The overall strength just isn't there quite as much.

Generally speaking those who are predominant red aerobic fibers don't have the ability to produce as much force as those who are white fiber dominated such as sprinters. However, many milers and a number of East African distance runners have a preponderance of type 2a fiber which is a form of fiber that gets the best of both worlds. I could be wrong on the specific type though. Needless to say however it does exist and is a prime example of what you may call the powerhouse animal. Just my two cents..

From Cheryl on Fri, Feb 06, 2009 at 14:20:01

OK, how do you get this "maximum leg power?" Any exercises we can do that help develop it?

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Feb 07, 2009 at 12:18:38

That is a big mystery. Sometimes hill running, sprints, jumps, weights, etc, can work. Sometimes they do not. The trick is to find the type of exercise, the exact frequency and duration that is right for the individual. A distance runner can easily overdo in this department because he never gets the usual distance running signals of fatigue when his nervous system is worn out.

From air darkhorse on Sat, Feb 07, 2009 at 15:43:31

I'm intrigued by Hobie's weight vest.. Maybe training with it as a form of resistance? But then again why not just run faster up and down hills?

From Steve P on Sat, Feb 07, 2009 at 15:45:38

I've gotten stronger (and heavier) since my peak running days, so maybe I can use that to my advantage afterall...but of course that will require some good conditioning and less body fat.

From air darkhorse on Sat, Feb 07, 2009 at 15:49:11

Cheryl-Unfortunately, You can only improve what God has given you to work with. So much is genetically determined in my opinion. NO amount of training will ever make me run like Haile Gebriselassie unfortunately. But I feel blessed to have what I was given and will make the most of it anyway I can.

From air darkhorse on Sat, Feb 07, 2009 at 15:52:51

Yes, you can most definitely. Just don't deny body what it needs to get to that level of body fat. I have seen a few good runners go out of whack hormonally because they starve themselves in the process.

From Steve P on Sun, Feb 08, 2009 at 10:14:17

Thanks. Trust me, I'm in no danger of starving myself. I like food too much for that. Hopefully as I add miles over the course of months, I will become more lean in a healthy way.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:22:05

Steve - do not be too quick to say never. I would agree that no amount of currently practiced training methodologies could get you to run a sub 59:00 half. But there might be something we do not know about. You might be connecting two wires away from a sub-59:00 half. An argument for that - Sarah looked at a picture of Ryan Hall finishing 59:43 half and said - is that Steve? Runners of your build have run world-class times.

The fundamental problem for this type of runner is somewhere in the internal wiring. It is a matter of knowing where those wires are and how to connect them. But we know so little about those wires.

From Cheryl on Mon, Feb 09, 2009 at 22:07:42

Yes, Steve, you are a lot closer to Haile than I am to Paula Radcliffe.

Add Your Comment.
  • Keep it family-safe. No vulgar or profane language. To discourage anonymous comments of cowardly nature, your IP address will be logged and posted next to your comment.
  • Do not respond to another person's comment out of context. If he made the original comment on another page/blog entry, go to that entry and respond there.
  • If all you want to do is contact the blogger and your comment is not connected with this entry and has no relevance to others, send a private message instead.
Only registered users with public blogs are allowed to post comments. Log in with your username and password or create an account and set up a blog.
Debt Reduction Calculator

Featured Announcements
New Kids on the Blog
(need a welcome):