Breaking the Wall

January 22, 2021

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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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Speed workout in the Provo Canyon today. 12x400 starting at the Canyon Glen Park downhill with 200 m recovery jogging back up after each interval. With a moderate tailwind I was able to average 66.6. The slowest repetion was 67.7, while the fastest was 65.5 (the last). The first two were 65.6 and 65.9. I think there is a bit more downhill on that section and the tailwind was a bit stronger. I do not think there was any tailwind on the slowest repetition - at least I felt no headwind jogging back after doing it. That is the fastest I've ever been able to do this workout, even with tailwind. During the warmup I jogged with a runner named Gary who is also a computer programmer. I was also fortunate to find a partner for my cooldown - Sam, a UVSC student who is also participating in the ROTC program. In both cases we had a nice chat. After the cooldown, Sarah came with the kids. I ran another mile with Benjamin in 8:41, while Sarah ran with Jennifer. Then I taught Benjamin to ride a bike while Sarah finished the rest of her run. With the "always on the run" miles the total mileage was 13.5 for the day. The form during the intervals felt more relaxed and coherent. I felt that my muscles were working in harmony more than they normally do. I felt I was able to run with a very wide relaxed stride like I did when I was 13. Here is what I find interesting. Back in Russia they often tested us on a ten-fold broad jump - maximum distance in ten steps from a standing start going from one foot to the other and landing into a pit. They do have correlational chart the data that ties the jump to other metrics. Look for the second table. The Russian term for the the ten-fold jump is Десятерной прыжок. If you see Бег and then a number, it is running that distance in meters. When I was 13, I ran 60 meters in 9.3 and jumped 21.50 meters. According to the chart, my jump corresponds to 9.0, which is a little faster, but still within the allowable range. I could run 200 in 30.7. The chart does not have a 200, but it does 300. I am fairly confident I could have run 300 in 48.0 at that time. My stride felt relaxed. Now at the age of 17 I jumped 27.50 meters. However, my best 200 meters was 27.5. This would convert to about 13.9 in 100 meters. The chart shows that with that kind of a jump I ought to be able to sprint much faster - 11.9. My stride was not relaxed any more - it felt very tense. I have not been able to fix it since. I noticed that there is a way to relax my stride - run with reduced resistance - eg. downhill and with a tailwind. If I train like this for a while, I start getting better results even in regular or high resistance running - flat/still air or uphill/headwind. However, training with high resistance makes me tense up, and although I get stronger, my form gets so bad that I start running slower either with high or low resistance.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Steve Hooper on Wed, Mar 01, 2006 at 22:51:17

Just a Thought - After talking to you and reading your blog maybe I was thinking you could find a location that will provide you with a 400m or so that is 200m downhill and 200m up. This way you could relax yourself for the first 200m then continue uphill for the next 200m. My only concern with a lot of downhill training is that over time muscle strength can be lost. I think it's important to have some balance. When you say train like this for a while, what length of time are you thinking?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Mar 02, 2006 at 22:09:12

That is a good idea. I am not sure if 200/200 is the ideal breakdown. Perhaps 300 down/100 up would work better.

I was thinking of doing this experiment for a year. This type of training worked very well in 2003 and gave me two PRs in the marathon two weeks apart (Top of Utah 2:27:46 + St. George 2:24:47). However, back then I did it for only a couple of months. I did feel inadequate going uphill, but not because I was slower than before. I was able to stay with a different peer group on the downhill, and then my uphill ability was not yet matched to my downhill running, so they would drop me.

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