Breaking the Wall

January 26, 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: 252.01 Year: 252.01
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: 1353.22
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 12. All with the kids. Benjamin did 8.5, Jenny 4, Julia 2, Joseph and Jacob 2, William 0.5. I did a 3 mile tempo run down the canyon with Benjamin on my usual course from Nunns to the mouth of the canyon. It was a historic run. Benjamin gapped me in a tempo run at the end for the first time while I ran well. He also pulled me when I was struggling. I suppose it was time for the son to give back to the father. A special moment.

Our target was 16:00 or 5:20 pace. The plan was for me to pull Benjamin until the last half mile, then he would take the lead and push if he felt good. We opened with 82 quarter on a slow part, then once we hit the nice downhill I pushed a bit to make up the loss, and we hit the mile in 5:16. Then we did 79, 79, 81. Seeing the drop in the pace and not feeling strong enough to fix the problem, I asked Benjamin to help me. He moved forward and I sat on him for the rest of the run. Our next quarter was 82 (he took over in the middle and being caught by surprise was a bit cautious), giving us 10:37 (5:21) at 2 miles. Drafting made things easier for me, so 81 was quite comfortable, but I decided I will not do anything about it until the 5:20 guy catches us. So we did 81, 81, and now the 5:20 guy was just a second behind. So I told Benjamin to hit the gas, which he did and we ran the next to last quarter in 79. Then we pushed at the end. In the last 100 meters Benjamin shifted gears into the range that I found inaccessible. So he ended up finishing in around 15:54.3, while I got 15:55.0.

I was happy with my result, especially given the lack of sleep and the heart skipping beats during the tempo, which I think did contribute to my weakness in the last 1.25 miles. But the legs were strong from the leg press exercises, so they made up for the deficit somewhat. But I was much happier with Benjamin's.  Prior to this I had never been schooled by a 14-year-old over 3 miles in any condition, definitely not in my current condition for sure.

With the good news we got bad one, of course. Just as I was getting excited about Benjamin's abilities, I learned that it was against the rules for him to run in high school meets unless he affiliated himself with a high school team. If I went back to my old Russian habits, I would have had a few special words to say about that, in Russian for strong effect, as Russians are the masters of swearing,  but when I was baptized I made a covenant to avoid this form of expression. So I will try to express my feelings in a more mature way.

People ask me why I would not just sign Benjamin up to run for Orem High or some other eligible school. I have nothing against Orem High or other hard working and not very well compensated high school coaches, some of whom are on this blog. But I do have an issue with the whole system. I believe home schooling is a superior way of education. The key predictor in the future success of a child is parental involvement, which tends to lack when the child spends countless hours away from the parents. Yet for one reason or another home schooling tends to be marginalized in our society. You have to work extra hard to prove that you are legitimate. The UHSAA rules regarding home school athletes is case in point.

Aside from that, I worked hard to make sure that Benjamin got the best chance to develop his running talent. I have sacrificed my own training and my own professional development to make it happen. When he races well, I do not want the average result peruser  to assume that his performance is a result of our high school system. Not because I want the credit, but because I want the truth to be known. I want people to know what it takes to run fast and do it. And that, I believe, starts not with the school, but with the family.

So for now the plan is to stick to road races, USATF events, and next year he should be ready to run respectable collegiate times, and we should be able to put him in collegiate meets which tend to not have affiliation requirements.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
From Tyler on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 19:34:25 from

I'm amazed with how fast he is running at that age. You are clearly doing something right. That's a huge bummer about the HS meets, but keep up the good work. I'm very interested to watch his progress.

From Rob Murphy on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 20:09:20 from

I have had several home schooled athletes run for me at Alta High School with no issues or complications.

I think the quality of home schooling is the same as everything else. It varies widely depending on the quality and knowledge of the parent providing the instruction. So saying home schooling is superior is a wild generalization. I've known parents who were fundamentalist Christians who home schooled their children simply because they didn't want their children learning any modern science that might confuse their religious beliefs. The parents were complete idiots and so were their children.

On the other hand, I have a neighbor who home schools his children who is an engineer with a PhD and his kids are awesome. He's humble enough to know what he doesn't know though and he sends his kid to me for history instruction from time to time - especially now with the AP U.S. History exam approaching.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 12:29:24 from


I am going to argue that home schooling vs public schooling is like training for a marathon at 20 miles per week vs 100 miles per week. Not every 100 miles per week runner will beat every 20 miles per week runner. One exception would be if there is a vast difference in natural ability. Another exception is if 100 miles per week is done in some extreme fashion - all in one day, without a proper build-up, without adequate nutrition and sleep, or extremely slow. Another exception I can think of is if the runner is very fragile and breaks down when the mileage gets high no matter how you space it, how gradually you build up, how much you sleep and how well you eat.

But those are exceptions. I am yet to hear of anybody running faster than 2:15 off 20 miles a week. In fact, the fastest I've ever heard of is 2:42 by Travis Hildrebrand in St. George, who I estimate to have at least a 2:12 potential. So I think it is fair to estimate that your cap off 20 miles a week is around 2:30. On the other hand, many 100 miles per week runners have gone 2:05 or faster.

So with those rather self-evident disclaimers we can safely say that 100 miles a week is superior to 20 miles a week. I maintain that home schooling in a similar manner is a superior method. This is what I would like to see happen to our public school system, so we can educationally be fit to produce 2:05 marathon equivalent:

* Conceptually we center learning in the family, not outside of it.

* We have a set of well-defined standards not just for high school but for college graduation as well. You graduate when you pass the tests. We do not care if you learned it in public school, at home, private school, tutors, or an angel from heaven revealed it to you.

* The testing is done by an entity that is independent of all schools.

* Public education system should be available to all, but those who pass the required tests without burdening the public education system get at least 50% refund of what it would have cost the public for them to participate.

* Public education system should teach the parents along with the children in some way.

* Public education system should do something similar to and create a network of online resources for learning.

* We should get rid of the huge bureaucracy and hoops to jump through, and instead focus on results. Do not require a bunch of degrees and certifications to allow somebody to teach. Instead let him teach those who do not mind being taught by him, and let him prove himself by how well they do on independent tests.

Regarding the home schooled student running for a public school. My issue here is that the student is being forced to claim affiliation with the school when the school had absolute nothing to do with their success. If we do not acknowledge that their success came from their family, we are sending a message that the school matters more than the family, which is in my opinion fundamentally wrong.

From Rob on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 13:57:33 from

I couldn't help but give my perspective here.

I was born to a 17 year old Drug Addict who gave me up for adoption. I never met my biological father and although my adopted parents did the best they could they were never really involved.

I'm sure it comes as little surprise I sucked in school, I barely squeaked by graduating High School, and eventually dropped out of Utah State University after I realized I wasn't going to make it as a professional pool hustler.

How is it then that I have a very good job making well over $100K/year, I live in a ridiculously huge house, and have an amazingly beautiful wife and family?

Because, when I finally dropped out of college an old high school friend took a chance on me, gave me a job, taught me a trade that has turned into a very lucrative career.

My point, from my experience, who you know wins 9 times out of 10 over what you know. There is no way you can home school friendships and relationships that come from public school.

Yes I wish I had a degree, yes I wish my parents would have spent more time running with me, but all and all I would consider myself "successful"

My wife got a job as a teacher this past year not because we needed the huge $30K salary that came along with it, but because she loves children, she loves to teach, and I know for a fact the love and attention she gives those 30 kids is far more than most of them get at home.

I would say "superior" is very relative.

One more point, why on earth would you think or care that someone without a school affiliation should participate in a school activity. Duh! That's kind of the point of school athletics. It wouldn't be fair to all those poor under privileged kids who have been trained by underpaid coaches to have to compete against your superior children.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 14:38:08 from


I would not be so quick to credit your success to the public school system. Could the person that helped you have been somebody you met at church, road race, fishing or hunting trip, soccer game, and even of all places, a bar! And would he have succeeded in getting you to this point if you were a complete loser yourself?

My point is when it is time to meet somebody who is going to give you a lift to where you need to be, you'll find him. I found such people over the course of my life in rather unlikely places and circumstances, although it was never a bar even before I was a member of the Church. For example, when I met the founder of MySQL I handed him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He asked me if we still practiced polygamy. I told him no, he was disappointed. Then he offered me a job, which served as a critical stepping stone to where I am today professionally. This allows me today to support a family of ten people off one income with no debt, including home mortgage, while working from home and having enough time to teach my children, and to run with them.

I did not quite understand your point about fairness. I will train any child or adult for that matter that wants to be trained free of charge if he will do what I tell him to do (there is a reason I can get away with such an offer, not many people will take it). I do not charge for coaching and am not compensated for it otherwise (unless you count Fast Running Blog advertising revenue), so compared even to the high school coach I am quite underpaid. My kids training is no secret - I write in all of my entries what my kids did. Anybody is welcome to follow it. How is that not fair for them to compete against the "underprivileged"?

From Rob Murphy on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 15:10:47 from

All good points all the way around.

Sasha - I think what "sets off" some people, and you can correct me if I'm mistaken on this, is that you seem to have a general hostility to the public school system. Is this based on a personal experience? Many of us have had positive experiences with the public school system.

I am a product of the American public school system and am thankful for it. I had teachers that inspired me in ways my parents never could have. Every day here at Alta High School amazing things happen that would inspire and motivate anyone.

You urge Rob to not be so quick to credit the public school system with his success. Why? Wouldn't he know? I can assure you that many people in this country can attribute at least some portion of their success to a teacher or school.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 15:54:57 from

Rob (Murphy):

Rob said the reason he was successful was due to meeting somebody through a public school system. He did not say that the public school system taught him skills that were essential to his job. What I got out of what he said that he had to go to a public school to make the connection, and even if it was the skills it would not have mattered because 9 times of out 10 it is about who you know. If this is indeed true, however, the place did not have to be a school, and thus the public school had little to do with his success - it could have been a bar, and I would definitely be opposed in taxpayer money being used to build bars or the idea that people should be encouraged to visit one based on the argument that somebody met a friend there that got him a dream job. If Rob has a better argument for public school education I will be happy to hear it.

My issue with the public school system is that it promotes an idea that the public is responsible for educating the child, and not the parents. In my comment earlier I wrote what I would like to see from the public school system. I want it to be a servant and not the master. Currently it is an all-consuming monster that controls the life of a child from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep - you have classes for 7 hours a day, then you have after-school activities and homework. That leaves very little time for interacting with the parents and pursuing anything that does not fit into the mold.

Now being educated in a public school system is better than not being educated at all. But being educated at home with parents taking charge and putting their heart into it is much better. Just like 100 miles a week is much better than 20 miles a week for marathon training, although 20 miles a week is better than no training at all.

From Rob on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 16:26:36 from

The kinds of relationships you build in school are much stronger than the ones found in bars. I used to hang out in lots of pool halls and none of the people I met there would have given me a job that would turn into a career. I'm assuming you already knew mySQL when you met the founder.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 16:38:23 from


I knew how to use MySQL, but I knew very little about the source code. I was fresh out of college, and needed a lot of tutoring to get to the level of being able to write something that millions of people would use and try to crash in every imaginable and not so imaginable way.

From Rob on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 18:08:22 from

One more story then I'm done forever. A couple of weeks ago I was with my Athiest Co-worker. He wanted to go get stuff for his 5 year olds Easter Basket. I asked him why he needed an Easter Basket if he's Athiest. He got very offended and said "why do I have to believe in Jesus to celebrate Easter?"

From Rob Murphy on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 21:14:48 from

Here's a fact for you Sasha. All societies with high rates of literacy and education have thriving, even mandatory, public school systems. Virtually every society that leaves education up to the parents has a high rate of illiteracy, poverty, and general backwardness.

From Fritz on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 23:00:15 from

Interesting discussion by all. Speaking from personal experience, I know my parents would not have been good teachers in all subjects and they also didn't have the time to stay home because they had to make money to pay the bills. So for me I know I wouldn't have received a "superior" education being home taught. Even more importantly, I wouldn't have made as many great friends, I wouldn't have great memories of playing football and baseball, and I wouldn't have had the privilege to be mentored by several teachers and coaches. Basically I wouldn't trade my 18 years of public schooling (elementary, junior high, high school, college and grad school) for anything.

Sasha, I respect your opinion and dedication to your kids' schooling and running aspirations. For better or for worse, you and your wife might be great teachers but I don't think the average parent has the time, money and knowledge to provide a comparable education to the education our public schools, especially in Utah, can offer. For some kids who don't have the best parental support it is the teachers and coaches like Rob who inspire and teach them to learn and strive for success.

Case in point that I don't think one way is the only or "superior" way and simply based on personal experience and observation I think the public school system does a great job with what they have. If all parents were like you maybe we would all be better off but that's not reality.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 07:10:00 from

Fritz, Rob:

I have much to say, but not the time to do it. So I will summarize it in one sentence. You are vehemently arguing why you cannot run faster than 2:20, but I say you can run 2:05 and will show you how.

From Fritz on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 10:33:35 from

Just curious, what does a 2:05 equate to in this convoluted analogy comparing running to academic/career success? And what is your PR for this same metric? I am just wondering how you will rate the success of your home schooling approach after the fact.

From Jake K on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 10:56:33 from

I've found this an interesting discussion to follow. I'm not sure if I have anything worthwhile to add, but I'll throw in my two cents anyways.

I think its great when people (like Sasha) don't just settle for the status quo and look for ways to improve - whether its the school system or anything else. Thinking outside the box is good. Since we're using running analogies, the "vibram/barefoot" movement was great for the running industry, because it challenged the shoe companies to actually think hard about the products they were making.

But, that being said, I'm a fan of the public school system too. My parents are the two greatest people I know, my primary role models, and if I could be half the parents they are, that would be pretty good. But they would openly admit they wouldn't have been prepared to teach higher-level classes. They were involved in my education, especially when I was younger, to a high degree (checking / helping with homework, etc). My Dad coached sports, my Mom worked in the school district and was in the PTA, so they were very involved in everything going on. But I would have missed a lot if they were all I had. ?For starters, I would have never been exposed to XC/Track, in fact when I got interested in the sport, my parents were the ones who followed my example, and starting running marathons. My best friend in high school (and still a great friend to this day) was my AP History teacher and XC coach (he's the New York version of Rob Murphy). Like Fritz said, I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. That being said, I recognize that I am lucky... I had a great school experience, and parents who were very involved and supportive of me. That's really the ideal situation in my opinion.

From Rob on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:49:11 from

I don't get the running analogy at all. Isn't the argument that home schooling takes less time than traditional but it's more "Quality" miles. So home schooling is like running 20 mpw all at marathon pace, but traditional school is like running 100 slow mpw. I'm not sure that makes any more sense but that's what I got out of that analogy.

Yeah, I know I said I was done.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:56:43 from


Let me just say this if you insist on the specifics. Among other things a 2:05 guy can support a family consisting of a wife and ten kids just off his income without debt and be around enough to teach his kids to be 2:05 guys. I maintain that we can structure our economy and education so that almost everybody is a 2:05 guy.

Looks kike Jake got it, at least somewhat. You cannot fly to the stars if you take Earth gravity as the holy cow not to be challenged. Now, of course, gravity is a good thing, even though runners do wish the g constant was only 6 or so m/s^2 instead of 9.81. In fact, a drastic or perhaps even a minor change in g would trigger a domino effect making life on Earth impossible. So, guys, when you pray at night, thank the Lord that g = 9.81 m/s^2 even though it makes your runs more painful, because otherwise you might not be even alive to run.

So if you fly to the stars, you need some substitute for the Earth's gravity. That is very true. But one thing is for sure - if you fail to think beyond the gravity, you are never going to the stars.

Now our public education system in its current form is like the gravity of the Earth. It gives us some essential benefits, but at the same time it prevents us from reaching the stars. I proposed some ideas earlier of how it could be improved to take us to the stars. See above.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 12:23:38 from


Home schooling - when done correctly, 100 miles per week results - potentially 2:05 guy runs 2:05

Public school - 20 miles per week results - potentially 2:05 guy capped at 2:20, some capped at slower speeds depending on how they respond to low mileage or how the low mileage is structured

No education - 0 miles per week, potentially 2:05 guy runs 3:20

Since we talked about literacy earlier - here are our results for literacy attainment:

Benjamin 5.0 years old, Jenny 4.5, Julia 7.0, Joseph 6.5, Jacob 6.0. A public school kid that receives no parental support is lucky to get it at 8 at the cost of about $16,000 to the public (Rob Murphy or anybody more familiar with the public education system - feel free to correct me on this if I am wrong). But assuming those numbers hold, why do we not reward each family that did not burden the overload public education system by putting their child in it with $8,000 if their child is reading fluently by 8 years old and otherwise performs on par on tests administered by an independent entity?

From jun on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 12:38:13 from

I've sat back and watched discussions like this happen on this site (usually on your blog) for a few years now and have refrained from chiming in. This time I think I can't pass up the opportunity.

My thoughts have nothing to do with home schooling or what's better or how it translates to running (which I can't understand what you're even try to correlate Sasha). This has everything to do with your elitest, holier than thou attitude that infects every aspect of this site. If its not running, it's education, if it's not education, it's religion. You stand on a pedestal and point your finger down at the rest of us with an air of assumed authority that isn't based anything more than your own ego. You talk of training your own kids as 'superior', that home schooling is 'superior', that if you aren't a superior marathoner you aren't really trying. And above all, if you are a trail runner/ultra-marathoner, you are nothing more than a glorified "bush-whacker" (your own words from a couple of years ago). You speak about creating and managing this site like you're doing the rest of us a favor. But if I've learned oen thing from being on here the last few years it's that the real reason for you to have this site is to continue to inflate your own ego.

So thanks for giving me a reason to finally leave Sasha. While I love this site I refuse to support you. For those that will get to read this before you obviously delete it I hope they will continue to stay in touch with me on facebook and elsewhere. Don't worry Sasha, you don't have to ban me, I'll take care of deleting my own account.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 14:10:06 from


This is my site. The server is sitting at my house in the basement. When it goes down, I make it a priority to fix it. I wrote the software behind it. I think this gives me the right to say whatever I want whether you like it or not. If you do not like it, why are you still here?

I think you've missed the point. I am not trying to show who is better, but rather what is better. I've spent some time and effort to figure it out, and I am happy to share it with anybody who cares to try it.

From jun on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 14:13:50 from


Thank you for proving my point. Feel free to delete my account since I can't figure out how to. I have no desire to hang around here any more.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 16:30:33 from

I also wonder how this site serves to boost my ego. Before I started it, I could win a marathon in Utah. Since I started it, I have run a PR, but have not won a marathon - and more often than not it is the the Fast Running Bloggers that boot me off the podium. I do not mind at all - I am happy to see people do what it takes to run fast and prove that the reason I beat them before was not that I am inherently better, but because I did something that was better, and when they do it, and especially when they find something that is even better, they can have even more success that I did. And when they do, they can share.

The blog is about sharing the principles of success, and overcoming failure. To some sharing success, sharing a better way, equates to being boastful and promoting your ego. This is rather unfortunate, because that limits their ability to learn from success.

But it is their choice. If they want to stay where they are, they most definitely can. If you want your blog to disappear, you just disable the public view of your blog in the Blog Options. You still can use it to keep track of your workouts, mileage, shoes, courses, etc. If you change your mind, you can make it reappear by re-enabling the option.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 17:13:28 from

I just had a bright idea, or at least I think it is bright - this discussion sheds some light on why our top federal tax rate is 39%!

From Jon on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 18:00:17 from

Hey Jun- based on my last race, I'd say the best trail/ultra races really are the bushwhacking kinds. So I take that as a compliment ;)

FWIW, I've had more than my shares of tiffs on FRB over the years, some with Sasha, some with others. Maybe being outside Utah helps now, but I try to avoid getting as worked up and generally just look at a few of my friends' blogs. The whole FRB community has definitely changed many times, but I'll always look back fondly on the good old days (2008 ish)

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 18:33:31 from

DaleG - I do not ban people for expressing a different opinion. Thanks for sharing it in a constructive way.

Now let me ask you - how do I properly communicate that my way is better, when I know 100% that it is? In chess it is easy - you just make the moves, you can even let your opponent take moves back to show him that no matter what he does, after the one bad move he made that he thought was not bad he is going to lose. In running it is not as easy, it takes time, but it is doable - you end up with a hard number - the time you ran with one approach, and the time you ran with the other. But what do you do when somebody begins to defend a less effective approach with "you think you are better than everyone" and is not willing to give your approach an honest shot?

From Tyler on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 18:44:53 from

This discussion took an ugly twist, and it bothers me. I guess I missed the "holier-than-thou" tone in Sasha's posts.

From Rob on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 19:05:13 from

Chess analogies now? In chess, is there only one way to win or do the moves changes based on the opponent and other factors at play?

There are lots of disturbing things going on here, but the one I know you are 100% wrong is thinking you have a right to participate in a school activity when you fundamentally disagree with the rest of the system. I tend to think from what I know of you that even you understand why this is wrong. Why should people pick and choose which the peices that suit them and disagree with everything else?

From Jon on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 19:15:24 from

I know what works for me. Well, kind of. Ok, maybe not even that. And if I don't know what works for me perfectly, I'm not going to preach to others. If what I'm doing looks good to and attracts others, they will naturally follow my example.

In other words, set your shining light on the hill for others to see. No need to fan the flames to show how much brighter you are...

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:06:37 from


In chess there is a concept of a forced move. There are positions where out of 30 or so legal moves only one does not lose. Guess what happens if you fail to see that in a given position a certain move was forced and your opponent does know that that move was forced and why. Happened to me plenty of times...

I've tried to explain several times, but somehow my comment about the superiority of the home schooling was not understood. The arguments that come back are - I do not have the time to run 100 miles a week, I get injured when I run 100 miles a week, I know a guy who tried running 100 miles a week and overtrained or got injured, but I am yet to hear somebody say I know a guy who ran 20 miles a week and got 2:05.

I am not saying that every attempt at home schooling will produce better results against the public school method. I am saying that when properly done, home schooling will win against public school. What exactly is properly done? Some fundamental principles:

- Parents must feel responsible, be committed, and must not hesitate to sacrifice.

- Parents must connect well with the children.

- Proper work ethic must be taught.

- Children are taught by precept and example how overcome limits, how do deal with failure, and how to not only dream about going to the stars but how to actually get there.

- Children must be taught how to be a self-learner that is not afraid to get ahead of the teacher, and how to learn the things the teacher does not know.

- Combination of aptitude, drive to achieve, and self-discipline beats accumulation of facts in the long run. Do not accumulate facts at the cost of developing those three elements of success. A function with the higher fourth derivative will eventually outpace the one with the higher derivatives of the lower order.

- You do not have to be smart to teach all of the above, and you do not have to have a masters degree in education to succeed in home schooling, you just need to do what it takes one step at a time.

From By-run on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:07:32 from

I like cheese!

From Tyler on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 23:59:00 from

I felt like adding a couple more thoughts to the conversation.

I don't think Sasha is saying he or his kids are superior to anybody. I have the benefit of having met and trained with Sasha, so I read his comments in the light of what I know of him as a person.

It seems to me he is stating that, as an ideal, home schooling is superior. Which I agree with in all sense but a social one. As an ideal, a kid can learn better, quicker, and receive more specific attention in the home than in the one-size-fits-all public system we have. The public system attempts to make itself less that way all the time, and I think it's great for what it is. But it is far from ideal. I certainly had a good overall experience. But I also look at it and can see that my development was slowed over what it could have been had I been allowed to progress at my own pace.

For 99% of the population, that ideal isn't possible. There are very few families that have the capacity to do what Sasha is doing with his. However, I look at what Sasha is doing and try to pick out what I may be able to do with my own children when they come along. Like instilling a love of running and learning. I have no desire to patronize Sasha, but I can recognize that his kids are way out of the ordinary in both of those areas, and I hope I can achieve that with my own. And I feel that by sharing his opinions and giving glimpses into what he does with his kids, it allows me to see a few ideas that I may be able to incorporate into my own family. His ideas have, on many occasions, challenged my own view of the world, and I think that's a good thing. even if they sound odd at first.

Just my thoughts. It bothers me to see someone I respect attacked openly.

From DaleG on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 00:49:25 from

I deleted my comments. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like a jerk. I let my emotions get the best of me. Bad Dale!

From SlowJoe on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 06:39:57 from

Jun - ah, come on man. Don't delete your account. Take the internet for what it is: a giant sounding board. I'm actually taking some of Sasha's advice ON RUNNING and modifying my training this spring. It doesn't mean I'm going to convert my family to LDS and home-school my kids though, even though I read Sasha's blog all the time. I read yours too, and while I don't comment much, I enjoy the tales of bushwhacking (just kidding) and reading about your exploits. I've seen you get hyper-offended on Burt's blog and now here. We all want a little sounding board, and to be heard (that's why you have 2 blogs and probably a facebook account, right?). It doesn't mean you have to become anyone's disciple.

From Rob Murphy on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 13:54:59 from

Sasha - The argument that you should get a refund if you don't have children in the public school system is an old one that I've been hearing for years from gay couples,people without children, private school parents, home schoolers, and the elderly.

Here's the deal. We, as a nation, have made the decision that education is a societal responsibility as well as a parental responsibility. We all benefit from public education whether we have children in the system or not. The next time you visit your family doctor who was likely educated in a public school, you can thank the public school system. When you drive on an interstate highway designed by a public school trained engineer... I could go on forever.

What you propose would result in complete chaos. After all, where would you draw the line? Government provides lots of services that not everybody uses but everybody pays for. There are people who never go to a city or county park. Should they get a portion of their property taxes back that goes to fund parks? I have never personally used the Utah State Prison system while there are some families that are "overloading the system" with several family members in prison. Should I get a refund? What if I buy my books from Amazon instead of borrowing them from the Salt Lake library? Should I get a refund?

You see what I'm saying? If the government decided to give you a refund for home schooling your kids, every person who doesn't utilize any other government service as fully as someone else would demand a refund. Public services would become either unsustainable or very expensive for those who use them and would probably disappear.

I realize that the disappearance of all government services save military protection might be a desirable outcome for some fringe conservatives, but for most of us, it would detract from our quality of life and would be unacceptable.

From CollinAnderson on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 15:01:01 from

Wow, this thread is crazy. Since everyone is chiming in with "my two cents", here are "my two cents":

First of all, let me say that I work quite a bit as a private tutor. I obviously do it to make some extra money on the side, but honestly, I have students that I would work with for free if they couldn't afford it, because I genuinely love to see kids become passionate and excited about difficult school subjects that they previously "hated".

With that in mind, my belief is that some public schools are genuinely terrible, while some are genuinely fantastic. The majority are obviously somewhere in the middle. Students I work with from some public high schools relay stories to me that are downright shocking and disheartening. I have found, in my interactions with some high school math teachers, that they are unbelievably incompetent and simply do not understand the material they are teaching. However, I have seen some kids who clearly have excellent teachers. The problem that they run into is that they may not naturally excel at math (typically what I tutor in), and need extra help, as their parents don't know the subject at all and can't help. Rob can correct me on this, but my impression of Utah schools in general are that they are "OK". They could use more money and a small percentage of the teachers aren't worth their weight in scrap metal, but, in general, they are at least trying.

I think that some parents might make good home schooling teachers for many subjects. For example, my mother, currently a 5th grade teacher, had my brother in both a 3rd and 5th grade class and he excelled in those years. However, despite the fact that she is by far the most dedicated elementary teacher I have ever encountered (working 70+ hours a week, with a masters in gifted and talented education, a State Teacher of the Year finalist recognition, and countless extra graduate level courses to her name that she has paid for out of pocket to improve her abilities as a teacher), she simply would not be capable of teaching high school level science. She would be more than capable of learning the material and relaying it, but, as someone who has been extremely successful with tutoring clients (brought kids up to 35 on the ACT, turned F students into A students, etc), I recognize that having a genuine intuition for the material is quite important. Perhaps my dad, who works on the business side of chemistry/chemical engineering after having been a chemist for some time, would have been helpful with these subjects, but most families simply don't have well-rounded enough parents to be able to provide full coverage of important material.

However, even with brilliant and excellent parents and other very academically inclined relatives (a Princeton PhD, multiple professors with high-level honorary chairs, a Nobel Prize nomination, etc), that would have been excellent with aiding in my education, I value the education I received. My high school was recently ranked as the top high school in Minnesota, so perhaps that has something to do with it, but, more than anything, I think that the ability to run on XC/track teams, compete on debate/speech teams, and lead the math team to the state tournament as captain (yes, I'm a nerd) were experiences that took a potentially unbalanced kid and turned him into someone that I'm proud to be.

The other extreme negative downside to me being home-schooled would be that my mother would no longer have been able to work full time as an elementary teacher in our district. When she received her nomination as a teacher of the year, she asked if anyone would write her a letter of recommendation. The response was remarkable and she received literally hundreds of beautifully written letters from colleagues, parents of former and current students, and most importantly, former students, who made the claim that my mother directly impacted their lives in ways that no-one else possibly could have, leading them to become lifetime lovers of education (and yes, I read every single letter). If my mother had home-schooled me, literally thousands of students would not have been able to have her influence in their lives.

Even with my mother as a full-time private teacher, I can't imagine that my life would've turned out any better. I gained admission to and was educated at Johns Hopkins, the top university in the world for my field. After that, I gained admission to and am currently working on my PhD in a program and laboratory that are more directly applicable to my career and educational goals than any other. Part of what helped me to gain admission to my undergraduate institution, which led to my graduate admissions at numerous top programs across the country, was my excellent public school education. Beyond this, the extracurricular offerings from my school that I participated in played a large part in my admission to undergrad, and I would've been unable to participate without having attended my public school.

Obviously, schools can improve. If public schooling systems are to improve, funding needs to be greatly increased from both the federal and state levels. Teachers need to be paid more. Personally, I would love to work as a teacher and I know that I would be an excellent educator due to my infectious interest in the material that I tutor as well as my deep passion for seeing the kids I work with excel in both their academic and personal pursuits. However, I will likely never work as an educator at any level below the university level because the pay is simply too low. I don't care that much about money for myself personally, but I wish to be able to send my future children to top level universities and provide them with all of the advantages that I had and I know that this would be impossible on a teacher's salary, as long as my wife isn't working in some sort of six-figure position. Additionally, teachers need to be paid based on merit. Merit can be measured in numerous ways and creating an incentive to really invest themselves in their classrooms will undoubtedly make teachers better at what they do. As a further note, funding should be high enough for classroom materials that kids are provided with up to date and functional materials. One less fighter plane for the military or Congress cutting out their orders of $435 hammers could mean a remarkable increase in educational funding. I know that the budget is a hot issue, but there are numerous ways to add funding to education. I don't care where the money comes from, but education should be one of the highest, if not the single highest, priorities of our government. Personally, I'd be absolutely willing to take an increase in taxes if it was going towards education.

In summary, I believe the following: certain home schooling situations are great, while certain public education situations are great. Which one wins out is absolutely situationally dependent. Sasha, you are obviously extremely dedicated to your kids, and I imagine that what you are doing for them is very good. However, for certain kids like me who were a bit socially awkward growing up, a public education was the best education imaginable, as the social interaction with peers led me to become a more grounded person. When I have kids, I would be in the same position of not allowing them to attend certain high schools in Utah. That said, if I happen to marry a woman who works as a teacher, and who, most importantly, has as much academic abilities as my own mother, I would absolutely not want her to do a disservice to society by focusing only on her own children.

From CollinAnderson on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 15:01:36 from

Crap, that was super long. Sorry.

From Matt Poulsen on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 16:13:11 from

Interesting discussion. I want to make only a couple brief points. As the popular phrase goes, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." I believe that no one way to educate is 100% superior to another. For some families, home schooling is superior. For other families, public schooling is superior.

Sasha and family are obviously doing a great job with home schooling. I was educated in the public school system, and I had a wonderful experience. I wouldn't have had it any other way. My children are also in the public school system. Sure, some teachers are better than others, and some activities are better than others, but that's the way life is. Learning how to discern between good, better, and worse (as it applies to any subject, activity, or life pursuit) is one of the most important things to be learned during education.

I believe that humility is the key: Having the humility to realize that there are many, equally effective, ways to get the same job done. I believe that true learning cannot be fully achieved without understanding this principle.

From Sasha Pachev on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 17:04:03 from

Tyler - thanks for explaining what I was trying to say in different words.

Rob - my proposal is not to refund everybody who does not have the children in the public school system, but only those who have children, do not put them in the public school system, yet whose children nevertheless achieve at the level of a public school measured on tests administered by an independent entity.

The idea is to make the education field truly competitive. Let the public, private, and home schools compete fairly with the standards clearly defined, and let the best one win. Currently it is not - public school is taxpayer-funded regardless of its performance while private and home is not again regardless of the performance.

From steve ash on Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 23:17:50 from

I just want to say in defense of my friend Sasha that you may not agree with his assertions, however I have known him for over a dozen years now. I believe his heart is in the right place and by seeing the results through the years has convinced me of the merits of home schooling. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trashing the public school system by any measure, without it I'm sure our society would not have made the great strides and achievements we have experienced over the course of history. That being said, I do believe that when it comes to education, I think every family should have a choice in order to pass on it's values and belief system. The family is at the core of the success of mankind and without it we would be lost in the darkness. We are already as a nation starting to see the catastrophic results of the decline of our families in being the center of importance in our society.

I could go on but I don't I don't really feel the need to do so. I may not agree with Sasha all the time, but I respect his opinion nonetheless because I've seen the success of his family and most importantly because I know where his heart is.

I guess what I'm trying to say to some of you is not to judge him so harshly.

From seeaprilrun on Wed, May 01, 2013 at 13:55:17 from

I don't agree with all of Sasha's opinions. I'm sure he wouldn't agree with all of mine. I do know this, he is not pompous or superior in attitude. I have never met him personally, but in e-mail correspondence several times over the years in search of training advice, I have been approached with nothing but compassion and kindness. His vested interest in his children and strong assertions do not offend me at all. I'm a single mom, not Mormon, and my kids are in public school, and I was not made to feel judged. As far as training advice, I bought totally into Sasha's advice, including lifestyle changes like no caffeine right about 2 years ago, and went from bilateral tibial stress fractures to a sub-3 marathon and 17 minute pr in 5 months--off of 60ish miles a week, since my status as a full time working mother was taken into account with regards recovery opportunity. Obviously he knows what he's talking about and does not recklessly tell people to run 100 miles a week. When I'm recovered from my current injuries(not training related), I will seek out more advice. It's been free of charge, and I am grateful. I started it 3 weeks after starting running, hoping to run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. Sasha randomly commented and told me I could do more.

That's all it took. So there is my two cents.

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