Breaking the Wall

February 20, 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: 81.04 Year: 418.47
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. Ran with Hyrum, Jeff, and Daniel. Actually did most of the run with them in the vicinity but not with me since I was doing a different workout. First the philosophy behind it.

I noticed from the force plate test that my form is very efficient at a slower than marathon race pace. You can see from the force graph that on landing my foot is already going backwards. In the half-marathon and marathon pictures I am often caught in a position that looks like I am about to do a serious overstriding action, but I know I don't - it would have been awfully difficult to run in Crocs, and particularly Five Fingers like that. I think what happens is that I swing my foot forward and then backward right before landing, which is very good - this gives you a forward momentum to start with.

The fast speed test was botched, but after some thought I decided to go off with the assumption that the form at faster speeds is not as efficient as it is at slower speeds. I am going off the intuitive assumption that a serious quality breakdown takes place somewhere around 5:10-5:20 pace. Reasons - up to 5:20 I feel I can hold that pace forever. 5:10 is very miserable, I can barely hold it for a 5 K on a good day. Also, intuitively it feels like at slower speeds I have enough time to do my forward-back foot swing, but onces we are sub-5:20, there seems to be not enough time for it.

So I want to do an experiment. Can I train myself to do the magic forward-backward swing efficiently enough to stay aerobic at 5:00 - 5:10 pace? Today the experiment started. I did a 30x200 fartlek with the goal of running at around that speed, but the focus being not so much on maintaining the speed, as on maintaining good form. Wearing Five Fingers was a lot of help. I discovered that at those speeds they are different even from Crocs. They put a cap on how hard you can pound the pavement. Crocs do to a certain extent, but not nearly as much as Five Fingers. So you cannot run faster by just hammering harder, which is what I would have done even in Crocs, and especially in racing flats. You have to land a certain way that reduces the breaking and loads the ankle well at the same time, and then time your ankle extension properly and do it very vigorously. If you do it right, you can relax quite a bit more than normal while airborne. I think today I got a glimpse of understanding of how Kenyans and Ethiopians develop a form that helps them go under 27:00 in a 10 K.

The pace varied from 5:00 on the fastest to 5:20 on the slowest. Last night it was windy, and the wind knocked down a lot of branches and twigs. The pace greatly varied with the number of twigs I had to step on. The amount of rest varied a lot as well, but was 100 meters on average. Sometimes I would take a longer break to get to a better section on the trail, and a few times I just ran a full quarter.

Total time for 10 miles was 1:16:20.

P.M. Had the double stroller with Jacob and Joseph for the entire run except the part with Benjamin. 1 with Julia in 9:58, 0.18 more to drop her off at the church (she got 1.18), picked up Jenny, 1.62 with her  in  14:26,  dropped her off at the church,  0.18  home. Then  2 with Benjamin  in  17:24.

Five Fingers - 65.02 miles. 

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From todd on Wed, May 21, 2008 at 15:23:40

This seems to me to just be more evidence that you have potential as an ultra marathon runner more than as a marathon runner. Why not try a 50 miler and see what you can do? You clearly seem built for it and the lack of speed wouldn't even be a factor.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, May 21, 2008 at 15:34:34

I would be even better at a pinky toe twitching contest. I can make my right pinky toe twitch like there is no tomorrow. But there is just not as much buck for the bang either in ultras or in twitching a pinky toe. And, besides, I really do not like running that much to run for over 3 hours straight. My long runs are rarely over 20 miles.

From adamr on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 13:39:59


I understand your assumption that your form is not as effecient at faster speeds, but didn't you notice a few weeks ago that your body gets to its most effecient fast form when you are trying to catch up to another runner? I thought you noticed it automatically did what it needed to get the job done. So do you think it might be a better way to improve your effeciency at these speeds by having someone to chase over each 200m repeat, like another runner or a bike pacer, thereby allowing you to practice that effecient "catch up" form? Or am I misunderstanding what you meant?

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