Breaking the Wall

November 25, 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: 232.17 Year: 3533.69
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: 734.48
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Total of 15 miles. Benjamin did 9, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, Jenny 3, Julia 3. I did a workout with Benjamin. The purpose of it to get an idea of how much speed he really had, and also to rattle the cage and try to help him not be afraid of higher speeds in longer distances. I was looking through the Utah USATF records in the 13-14 year old division and to my surprise realized that Benjamin is seriously threatening Josh Rohatinsky's record of 9:49 in 3000 meters and the 1500 record of 4:29 as well. Benjamin ran 10:46 in 3200, if you subtract his slowest 200 from the time, that yields 10:03. The splits were not ideal for a record - 5:32/5:14 with the last two laps being the fastest, and the last lap 10 seconds faster than the average pace in the first 7, neither was having to run alone and having to pass a large number of lapped people on the outside lane - he lapped everybody in the heat at least once. So I see how even without an increase in fitness he could have found those extra 14 seconds needed for the record.

Now, in all honesty I do not think the record is that strong. I think Conner Mantz, for example, could have taken it down when he was 14 if he tried - but he just never ran in a 3000 meter race in a USATF meet, I suppose - I do not know for sure that he had not, but I am suspecting if he had we would have had a different state record. This reminds me of Porter Rockwell's defense in the murder attempt on the governor of Missouri trial - the governor is still alive, that proves I did not shoot, because if I had he would have been dead. 

But take it or leave it, the record is what it is, and we decided to try to break it this year. We are tentatively planning on going to Eugine to run in the Hayward Field Meet in July. That is cheating, because Josh ran his record in the Summer Games in Cedar City at altitude. But I do want to know what Benjamin can run at sea level when he is not winning (or at least when he is pushed) for a benchmark. We might do the Summer Games as well to have a fair comparison.

So anyway, I wanted Benjamin to psychologically prepare for the assault. So the workout was 800-600-400-200 down the Provo Canyon. Well, more precisely the distances were slightly longer - 0.5, 0.375, 0.25, and 0.125 of a mile, but we were on a net downhill of 1-2%, so this was probably equivalent to running on a windless day on a really good track like BYU for the above mentioned track equivalents.

Benjamin again took me to school. 800 - 2:18.5 for him, 2:18.9 for me.  1000 recovery jog, then 600 - 1:41.5 for him, 1:42.8 for me. 800 recovery, then 400 - 62.3 for him, 64.8 for me. 800 jog, then 200 - 29.4 for him, 31.6 for me. That was better than I was expecting. I thought he would run something like 2:20 - 1:44 - 67 - 31.

One thing I miscalculated is how much this workout was going to take out of him. His gluts and hamstrings were almost post-marathon type sore. I assumed incorrectly that he simply would not have the speed to run himself into the ground. He did. His speed is ahead of his resilience. I knew that, but I just did not realize by how much. Well, now we know what we need to work on. There is really not that much to do except be more moderate with the speed, just keep working on the base, and wait for the muscles to become more resilient as he grows and his conditioning improves. Then we can really work on speed and seriously kick some trash.

P.M. 0.5 with William.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 15.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
From Jake K on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 13:57:24 from

That's a impressive workout for him. I'm guessing much faster paces than he usually hits in training.

Does he ever do shorter sprints? I'm wondering if 80-150m efforts at those kinds of paces (with full recovery) would help his muscles (and neuro system) become accustomed to the faster paces, but they would be short enough to not cause too much fatigue and take away from his endurance training.

Although the fact that he can hit those kinds of times off primarily endurance work shows that what he is doing is working... he just might be a little sore afterwards! :-)

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 15:53:18 from


That is a good thought. Overall we've done a very limited amount of speed training, but we've done some. I have patterned my kids training after the East African experience, which I summarize as "run to school, run back, sprint when you see a hyena" but I still do not fully understand the principles behind it, so this will be a learning experience.

Benjamin just demonstrated to me that speed can be developed by mostly aerobic running, and we are not talking just middle distance speed, this includes top end speed. Maybe not enough to be a world class sprinter, but definitely enough to win the kick in a serious distance race.

One question that arises is if possibly top end speed is just there and does not need to be developed at all. I thought so for some time until a few years ago when I invited some random neighborhood kids to run an all out 100. What I saw was quite revealing - they were about 11-12 years, old, and none of them could crack 17. In fact, all of them except one did not even crack 18. Benjamin at the age of 7 was able to beat all of them except the fastest. That surprised me - I recall from our PE classes in the Soviet Union that 18 for 100 was not a problem for most boys that age, and the fastest random boy out of a reasonably sized crowd would be breaking 15.

So since then I've been thinking about what the difference was caused by. Back then when I was 11-12 it was early 80s. The Soviet TV was extremely boring. A joke is told about a man that turns on channel 1 and sees Brezhnev. He switches to channel 3, and sees Brezhnev again. He switches to channel 11, and sees the same thing. Then he switches to the learning channel, the only remaining one, hoping for a change, and he finds it - he sees a KGB agent shaking a fist at him saying: "If you keep switching channels, you'll be in deep trouble!" That joke was not too far away from reality.

Video games were practically non-existent. A kid had only so much attention span for a book. So he had to find something to do, and he found it outside. It was usually soccer during the summer, and ice-skating/ice hockey or cross-country skiing during the winter. School recess usually involved some kind of a wild running game with younger kids running for their life away from the older kids who have been commissioned by the teachers to keep the young ones from running around, or some kind of fighting among the kids the same age which involved the victim running away from the pursuer, both exercising their top speed. Some disagreements involved post-school-hour resolution. I recall frequently having to run 200 meters all out from the school doors to my apartment to avoid getting beat up. Lenin's teachings of class struggle were clearly being remembered by the younger generation, but it resulted in an overall speed conditioning.

So based on this observation and others, I have developed some suspicions about how speed is developed in a child. If you are sedentary, it is unlikely to develop. But if you run a lot, and only occasionally and in a very unstructured way at top speed, you develop not only endurance but top speed as well. Going along with Lydiard we can say that developing endurance helps developing speed. Why? A kid that has endurance is much more likely to put his engine in top gear and go for it when playing, when he is excited about something, etc. So he gets more practice. He is also more conscious and aware of himself because sprinting does not hurt so bad, so he can a figure out a better sprinting form.

Long story short, if you run a lot of distance at an easy pace, and occasionally sprint, you will have the speed over long and short distances.

From Jake K on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 17:29:54 from

Good thoughts, I agree. I like that "run to school, run back, sprint when you see a hyena" philosophy.

Develop the "aerobic house" first. No formal speed training, but touch on it occasionally - whether its a kick at the end of a race/run, a game of tag or some other unstructured activity, etc.

From RAD on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 16:09:14 from

What a wonderful week for your birthday your family has provided for you! I love all the accomplishments that were so hard fought. I'm excited to see Benjamin go out and succeed. He has a great coach.

I like the theories that you've discussed. I especially like that a lot of distance with a little sprinting will give you speed over long and short distances. I'm truly putting this to the test this year. Not so successful right now, but maybe the speed will come back...eventually.

I'd still like to push myself and see what I could give in an all out 100!

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