Breaking the Wall

February 19, 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. 10 miles in 1:18:26. Ran with Hyrum, Jeff, and Daniel. Hyrum set a post-break PR of 32:21 in 4 miles with the last 3 in 23:14. And this week he had 80% attendance, which is a record as well. I keep telling him he has a 2:30 marathon in him, but he still does not quite believe me. But we are working on it.

Today was a day of singing again. First I sang Come Come Ye Saints at a slightly sub-8:00 pace and then Jeff sang the same song. I got a 2 from Daniel, Jeff got a 7 with 10 being good singing while stationary.

Daniel went another 2, then turned around. Jeff ran with me the whole 10.

A funny story about Jeff. In his class at BYU they had an assignment to estimate their maximum heart rate. The formula included measurements of weight, height, resting heart rate, and a heart rate at a pace that one thought he could sustain for 30 minutes. It gave Jeff some odd results. He took it to his professor, who said it was not meant to work on somebody who could sustain 5:25 pace for half an hour.

P.M. 1 with Julia in 9:58, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 13:21, 2.5 by myself with 2x400 first down 1% grade, second up, both in 1:17 to feel the 5 K pace for Magna. 

Five Fingers - 94.53 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.75Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.75
From Jon on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 14:42:29

What result did the formula give? What is his actual heart rate?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 14:48:23

I think the formula said that his max is 177 while he hit 172 at 5:25 pace after a mile. I push my HR relative to my max very very well, very much out of range for a non-East African (I race a marathon at 90% of my max start to finish, and a half at 93%) and at 5:25 pace I would still be about at least 10 beats a minute off my max. I asked Jeff to dig up the formula.

From Cheryl on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 15:58:56

Sasha-I'm reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel. Are you familiar with it? In it they say for optimal athletic performance you should avoid all dairy products--no milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. What is your opinion of that?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 16:32:54

Cheryl: I have not read The Paleo Diet for Athlete. However, in 2003 I stopped using milk products along with white flour and red meat, and started running better. I have always been allergic to plain milk, but seemed to handle sour milk (yogurt, cheese) more or less OK. I would not say that milk is necessarily bad for everybody, but I've done very well without it. You can give it a try and see if it makes you run better or worse.

I think what is important about diet is not so much what you do and do not eat, as that your diet is a) balanced and b) consistent. I think a) will happen more or less naturally if you eliminate popular products with a brand name and eat healthy foods whose names your 19th century ancestors would have recognized according to your natural hunger, sense of taste, and overall body feedback. Most people struggle with b) always finding exceptions to eat less than ideal foods.

From Jon on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 16:45:17

Sasha- how do you get iron in your diet?

From Cheryl on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 16:48:18

Sasha--Thanks for the reply. In the book they also say that protein is very important and most athletes don't get enough. If you don't eat red meat, what are your main sources of proten?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 16:54:19

Jon - when Dennis asked me the same question a while ago my answer was I don't know but somehow I do because I am running more and feel better. But that got me curious and I studied the chemical composition of what I was eating. Turns out oats have a lot of iron.

I think too often we worry too much about a particular isolated nutrient and forget about the element of harmony that each food either brings or takes a way.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 16:59:26

Cheryl - grains and nuts have a lot of protein. In fact, I think you will get more protein eating grains to satiation than you would eating meat to satiation and your ability to digest it. But again, it all goes back to the focus on the end result vs the focus on individual nutrients. I have not had a single piece of red meet since 2003, and I have not lost any muscle mass. When I exercise a muscle, it gets bigger off my red meat free diet. So the protein and whatever else it needs for growth and healthy function must be coming from somewhere.

From Cheryl on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 17:20:53

Thanks. Is there anything else in the typical American diet that you avoid? (not referring to junk food, I assume you avoid all junk food.) Do you eat chicken, turkey and fish? What do you eat immediately following a big run?Thanks for answering all these questions, I'm really curious about an elite runner's diet.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 17:29:38

I eat small amounts of chicken, turkey, and fish. During the winter maybe three times a week, during the summer maybe only once.

Note however, that the "eliteness" of a runner poorly correlates with the diet. 90% of the "eliteness" comes from what I call Quality X, see the discussion on the board for more details at,156.0.html

Good diet, however, helps you preserve Quality X as you get older, sustain your speed over longer distances, handle the training load better, and be less prone to injuries.

From josse on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 17:44:55

Cheryl Do realize that everyone body is differant and like Sasha said you need to pay attention to what make you feel good and what doesn't. If we all ate like that fast food places would go out of business. I have changed my diet in the last year and really feel a differance in over all health and well being. I eat similar to Sasha but I do eat dairy and some red meat.

When eating this way you have to really pay attention on making full protiens with mixing grains and beans. Or beans with a milk protien.

Allso beans have alot of iron in them.

From Cheryl on Sat, May 24, 2008 at 19:15:20

Josse--Thanks for that info. I'm going to see if paying more attention to diet makes running better.

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