Breaking the Wall

August 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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M.20.36 with Jeff in my new Eva Clogs in 2:01:25. Yes, that's right, 5:57.8 average for the whole business. Only half-intentional. I was in a hurry to get to a baptism this morning, so I told Jeff let's go as fast as is reasonable with the idea that we would bum around at 6:20 pace for the first 5, then speed up to 6:10, then 6:00, and then 5:50 for the last 5. But 2 miles into it the pace hit 6:00 and never really got slower after that except a couple of miles at the end.

So we hit the first 5.09 in 31:18 (6:09 avg), then the next 5.09 in 30:18 (5:57). Then Jeff got really excited about breaking 2 hours for the entire run and started throwing occasional 83 quarters (5:32 pace). I would reign him in with a warning, he would slow down to 86-87 (5:44-5:48 pace). On the detour in the unmarked territory he was like a sports car driver on a freeway in the middle of Nevada with no police officers in sight. I did not have a number to scare him with, so my warnings only slowed him down there to around 5:38 average. We ended up with 29:12 for the next 5.09 stretch (5:44 avg).

This looked too good to be true. Jeff had run 10 miles the night before, and now he was being feisty in the later parts of an aggressively paced 20 miler. But I figured I did not want to hold Jeff back, so I told him to bring me to 4 miles to go mark, and then see if he could run 5:20 pace to the finish. We hit the next 1.05 in 5:58 (5:41 pace), and then Jeff went for it.

The remaining 4 miles was a lesson for both of us. Jeff learned more about fuel fatigue, while I learned more about neural fatigue. It was good to have those two types side by side so we can understand the difference better. In Jeff's case a surge to 5:20 quickly faded, all of a sudden he was struggling with 5:40 pace at first, a mile later with 6:00, then he could not do even 6:00, and the last mile was a disastrous 6:51. I almost caught him.

On my side, as soon as I lost contact I slowed down to 6:00, half a mile later it became 6:05, then 6:08, then with a couple of turns 6:15. However, because the fatigue was in the nervous system, the easing off of the pace allowed me to regroup and finish with a 5:58 last mile, which was slightly uphill, and had bridges and sharp turns. Seeing Jeff gradually come back gave me a boost. The last 5.09 was covered in 30:37 (6:01 avg).

Immediately after the run Jeff was dizzy and hungry, while I was actually too wired up to eat, and not dizzy at all.

Now here is the big question. I know what to do for fuel - just run more miles, and run as much as you can at marathon pace. But what do you do if the limiting factor is in the nervous system? More miles, more miles at marathon pace is often the wrong answer. More sleep is a better answer, but not quite the whole deal. Better form might be the answer, more particularly fixing the rhythm issues. Poor rhythm puts more stress on the nervous system. Then you can approach the issue from the aspect of raw power. Train at sub-5:00, and even hit sub-4:30 pace for short segments. But I think the main culprit is the poor rhythm, which is rooted in what I call "the structure". So we go back to targeted and intelligent massage that would hopefully fix "the structure".

Aside from the small lapse in the final miles I was happy with how this run went. I have not done too many 20 miles in my life in training on a course without a drop averaging sub-6:00.  It shows that I am in somewhat respectable shape.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:57. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:45. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:00. Benjamin ran 0.25 with Jacob.

Eva Clogs Army Miles: 22.86
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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