Breaking the Wall

August 15, 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: 88.07 Year: 2386.98
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: 1257.89
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Josse. Jeff and I did an interesting workout. The target was to go 73 seconds per quarter until I could not hold the pace, then once the failure became obvious finish at the closest quarter mark. The first quarter was right on target - 73. On the second one Jeff put a bit too much pepper on my plate - 70. No wonder it felt so hard - I began to think wow, my anaerobic capabilities are so bad that I can barely make it to 0.5 doing 73s? Hit the 0.625 mark (a bit over 1 K) in 3:00, that was good. Then 3:37 at 0.75 (74). Around that point I started falling apart. No heavy legs, just all of a sudden cannot go, and do not understand why. That was not good. Next quarter was 78, stopped at the mile in 4:55.

What was interesting about the experience is that the boundary between, well, I can do this for a while and no this is not sustainable for more than another quarter was very thin. Which is expected when you do purely aerobic training, and is actually good in the marathon because the moment you start running too fast it hurts enough to alert you to the problem. With some anaerobic training I could of course train myself to sustain 73s for longer. But that would do me no good in the marathon. I want to be more aerobic at that pace, and sufficiently aerobic at 5:00 pace to make it through the 5 mile tempo. How do we do that? Big mystery, exciting mystery.

Here is an idea - find out a way to shut down the anaerobic gear without shutting the nervous system down with it, and do some high volume speed work as fast as the aerobic gear will let you.

For the rest of the run we ran easy with Josse and had her do 2x100. She did the first in 16.4, and the second in 16.6. Dropped Josse off, went around the block twice while Jeff went to the bathroom, then ran another 4.25 with Jeff. Total of 15.05.

T4 Racer- 183.64 miles. 

P.M.1 with Julia in 9:55, 1.5 with Benjamin and Jenny in 12:55, 2.5 alone in18:29.

Five Fingers - 415.29 miles

Night Sleep Time: 7.25Nap Time: 0.67Total Sleep Time: 7.92
From Katie on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 08:06:38

Two years ago when I was doing regularly 120-140 mile weeks, I maintained hurdle drills (high stepping, leg swings, ect) and 1x wk, high volume short intervals to maintain turnover/speed/flexibility. I think they were mainly aerobic, never hard. I started with 20 x 200/200 rec and built to 30 x 400 with 200 recovery. I wore a watch to keep track, but the point was to finish and recover and train the next day, so it wasn't too fast.

Is this what you mean by "high volume speed work....?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 13:20:24

Something like this would work if you could guarantee that while trying to maximize the slow twitch fiber recruitment you would not start cheating by engaging fast twitch. You can do something to wear your fast twitch fibers out so that they will be too tired to get recruited (e.g run first few reps very hard and keep the rest very short), but at the same time you will shut down the nervous system and your slow twitch will not be getting recruited very well either. So in other words, you'll just run too slow. I am thinking of the following:

2 or 3 times 2.5 mile reps starting at 6:00 pace then gradually winding down to 5:00 pace at the end. So we put the fast twitch fibers to sleep, and gradually increase the pace hoping that when we reach the critical threshold the body will still think recruit slow twitch, and we can recruit slow twitch fibers at a greater rate than if we just started at 5:00 pace. Also, there are some mechanisms of energy supply that would not be available after 5 minutes of brisk aerobic running so this should discourage fast twitch recruitment as well.

From Jon on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 13:36:43

If you nervous system is shut down, wouldn't you be brain dead?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 13:55:28

Shut down is a relative term, of course. It is not completely shut down, of course, but sufficiently unwilling to signal the muscles to contract where you are limited to running a slower pace even though your muscles could do better if they could get a better signal.

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