Breaking the Wall

January 29, 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

 Update: Today I am officially starting a blog campaign to encourage Devine Racing to pay the prize money due top runners. I have so far found out that Steve Ashbaker (5th in the SLC marathon), and Nick McCoombs (4th in the SLC marathon) have not been paid. I'll try to reach Hobbie Call (2nd place in the SLC marathon today) and see if he got anything. According to Nick, last year he and Hobbie got paid after and with the encouragement from some TV coverage.

Easy run at 4:55 AM, Ted was not there, his foot was still hurting, he took it easy. Started out at 9:00 pace, and it felt brisk. I think I set a record for the low HR in the summer after 0.4 miles of running - it was 99. Nothing compared to Lasse Viren, though, who could hold 84 at 8:00 pace. Gradually kept waking up throughout the run. Hit the first half (5.02) in 37:57. On the way back, eventually worked my way up to sub-6:40. Sped up to about 5:50 pace on the last 0.5, total time 1:11:26.

Why do I always make a big deal about how hard 9:00 pace feels at the start of my run? Because I see many runners go out on a supposedly bad day, not feel good in the first mile or two, and cut their run short. I believe this habit costs them good 10-20 minutes in the marathon or possibly more from all the runs they've cut short, or even worse, not started at all, instead of plodding along through the distance. Today I did not start feeling really good until I've run 8(!) miles. I was not having a bad day, my body was just taking its time to wake up. That is what happens when you start getting in shape - the body learns to sleep while you run, or while you live in general, that is how it becomes stronger.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon, then took Benjamin to the Team Provo practice. Jogged a bit around the track, then ran a calibration/break the boredom 600 in 2:02. Had a hard time getting going, I think 90 degree heat contributed to it. Then did 10x100 strides with 100 meter jog back in between. In the first 7, all were in the range of 16.1-17.3. Then on the 8th I saw some kids doing an interval. I let them build a bit of a lead, and then started my 100 with a goal to catch them. Passed one, saw that the other was faster, sped up to try to catch him before the line, almost made it. The time was 15.2. I did not think it would be that fast, maybe 15.7 at the most. Did the next one in 16.8, and then on the last one decided to test my speed. Felt tense, and all I could do was 15.2. It felt all-out this time. Very odd.

So for an experiment I invited Darren (the coach, decathlete, 11.8 100 m PR) to "race" me. He was wearing street clothes, and he was not going to sprint all the way out, just fast enough to make me think I was racing him. With his help I was able to run 14.5!

So here is the odd stuff. In the winter of 2005 I did an experiment to see how much raw speed I could build. I did 10x60 uphill twice a week close to all out, and 6x400 in 63 each with full rest, or 8x200 in under 30 with full rest for the third speed workout. Kept the mileage at 60-70. After a couple of months of that training I was able to run 13.9 100 with tail wind, competition, and a slight running start. Now I do 90+ miles a week, no sprint work aside from quarters at mile race pace, and I run 14.5 with a standing start - not much speed loss at all, or speed gain from the speed training on the other hand.

Cooled down some more afterwards, reached the goal of 15+ for the day.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Breanna on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 16:07:14


I am thinking about doing some intervals on the treadmill tonight. What do you think would be good for me to do, longer or shorter reps?

From rdrunner on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 16:26:16


I appreciate your comments on your slow start this morning. If I start out at 9 minutes/mile I think I am a real slacker and try to outdo myself the rest of the run to make the average look better. I agree with your comments that the body just takes its time waking up sometimes....If you keep at it you will eventually find your groove and the body will wake up.

From Maria on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 16:30:04

I think there is more to developing your max. raw speed than running short reps all out with full rest. You also need to do a lot of drills, plyometrics, jumping and weight training. And it takes more than 2 months. So I don't think your experiment in 2005 was "clean" enough, you could have improved more if you did all the other stuff.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 17:30:20


I did plyometrics, jumping, and weight training off 40 miles a week for about 6 months in 1991 (age 17). This gave me a 200 in 27.5 in spikes. The 10-fold jump was much better - 27.50m, I am still perplexed as to how I am able to hit the sub-12.0 100 m peer group on that jump, but struggling to break 14.0 running. In 2005, I was able to run 200 in racing flats in 27.8. I also tried weight training in 2003 and measured my all out 100 before and after. My leg extension increased by 10%, leg curl by 20%, and all out 100 was unchanged. Any thoughts on what is going on?

Also, another question - I have noticed that with competition my all out 100 improves by 0.7-0.8 (not just this time but this has happened in the past) as opposed to running it alone. Is that normal?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 18:05:43


I would recommend a 2-3 mile tempo run at about 7:15 pace.

From Chad on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 11:51:52

Sasha--for the Devine campaign--one option, if people were willing, is to draft a letter to Devine signed by as many top runners as you can find letting him know that they will not compete in Devine's race next year unless this year's winners are paid ASAP and a written commtment is made to pay future winners within 30 days.

From Maria on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 14:30:22

Sasha, I think it is normal to run 0.7-0.8 faster in 100 with competition. I don't remember my HS/college training times for 100, but I remember running 6-8x150m (with full walking rest) in ~22, rarely 21.5, and it felt all out. That only translates to 14.0-14.5 in 100, yet I was consistently running 13.2-13.4 in races.

Regarding the reason why your 10-fold jump is so much ahead of your 100m speed, I have no idea really. They are closely correlated and it's noted in training literature, at least in Russian literature (that's why our coaches always used 10-fold jump and standing long jump as prediction tools). Perhaps, there are some neural mechanisms involved in being able to fire muscles very quickly that are only engaged in running vs. jumping. It would be really helpful if you can be tested in a lab on all possible tests. Then you'd have a better picture and some data to try and explain this mismatch. I'm perplexed myself how I was able once to run < 14 sec. for 100, and now can barely do 19! Even my very first 100m race just 2 months after I started training at 14 years old was 15.3. Maybe the age is to blame, I don't know. It sure is not encouraging though. I'm trying now to get into some track meets and run shorter distances to see if I can improve my speed a little without losing whatever aerobic capacity I have.

From Maria on Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 14:15:11


I got first experimental data on the subject of all out srpinting in competition. Pretty shocking results for me in 200m race - check my blog. Any thoughts?

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