Breaking the Wall

July 14, 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. Found Jeff on the trail. 10.25 in 1:20:00. We did 4x200. The plan was 34, but I knew it would be closer to 32 as Jeff is an overachiever, but that was OK with me since I wanted to test the effectiveness of my massage and scraping.

The temperature was 27 degrees, and I was wearing pants and a jacket. The first one did not go so well as it was dark, my pants were falling down, my clogs felt loose, and I was not mentally ready to be going that fast. Jeff did around 30, I ended up with 32.3. 

On the second one I was physically and mentally ready to go hard. I tucked in my jacket into the pants to keep them from falling down, I focused on staying with Jeff, and I was mentally ready to move my feet in a way that would not invite the clogs to fall off. A slight dorsi-flexion  of the foot  through most of the off-the-ground phase does the job. It might even be good for the form as it allows a more explosive plantar-flexion once you hit the ground. Some world-class distance runners run like this during the kick and possibly the whole way, but it becomes more apparent during the kick.

However, on the second one we missed the mark and went too far. Jeff had me gapped by about 3 meters when we realized we had been running for 35 seconds and turned off the engines.  But even with jogging our 300 split was 57 seconds.

The third one went very well. The sun had come up. I was able to stay within 3 meters of Jeff and finished in 29.7. I was very excited about that. But then on the fourth I stayed within a meter and managed 29.5!

For me this is a very significant development. My 200 meter PR is 27.5 on the track in spikes at the age of 17 when I was doing weights, bounding, and form drills. The trail even in perfect conditions is probably at least a good second slower than the track. Pants, jacket, and below freezing temperatures slow you down some as well. I checked the blog and it appears that 29.5 is an all-time PR for the trail. Previous PR was 30.7.

So I am definitely seeing a top-end speed improvement. This is exciting. You can get into better shape by running more miles and run a better 5 K, but you cannot run a better 200 through any form of "cheating". By "cheating" I mean materializing the existing Quality X through some form of training into a better performance vs actually increasing Quality X. You can also "cheat" by sprint-specific training, but I have not done any of that recently except the occasional test efforts themselves, which would not be enough to have any training effect. So I would say this workout provided more evidence that my massage and scraping has been effective.

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:44. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 12:40. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:36. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:47.

Water Clogs 3 Miles: 13.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
From seeaprilrun on Wed, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:44:37 from

Congrats on the breakthrough!

From runnerchic on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 at 12:49:32 from

Great job! It feels good to have a break through, doesn't it!

Can you give me some advice? I am working my way up to the 10 mile a day mark. I think I may be running too many miles too quick. I feel a cold coming on today and each time I run my legs feel a little tight. I think I am getting enough sleep and my pace is fairly slow. I am a little afraid to pick up the pace because I don't want to re-injure my hip until I have a good base. Should I push through the tightness or back off on the mileage?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 at 13:33:54 from

runnerchic - your daily mileage has been fluctuating a lot. Try something like 5-6 miles at 9:30 pace for five days with the long run of 12. You also seem to have wild energy level fluctuations. To deal with that, assume that a high is really not that much of a high, and a low is not that much of a low either. On a high, hold back a bit, maybe more than a bit. On a low, give yourself a modest kick in the rear, but not too much.

The principle involved is to even things out. If you looked at an oscillograph you would see that a sound wave that is musical is very smooth, a near-perfect sine wave. If it has lots of random spikes, it becomes very unpleasant noise. So we want your training to become musical in that sense, no abrupt spikes or drops.

From runnerchic on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 at 13:45:31 from

Yes, my energy levels fluctuate a lot. I will take your advice. I have signed up for the Utah Valley Marathon, June 12th. Do you think I can work up to the 10 daily mile mark by then or is that too unrealistic?

From runnerchic on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 at 13:46:02 from

Oh, one other thing, when do I start adding hill and speek work?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 at 13:54:49 from

It depends on how your body responds. Do not be in a rush to add mileage. You do not get ready for a marathon like some (unfortunately too many) students study for a test. School tests are often designed so that a night or two of cramming can get you an A. Marathons are different animals, they test what you really have. So the focus should not be so much on your race date, as on your long-term fitness progression.

I would not worry about hills or speed work for another year.

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