Breaking the Wall

January 17, 2021

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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: 146.77 Year: 146.77
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: 1276.97
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Did not sleep well because my skin was itching. It does not like the sun. It actually has been itching for a while. But I was able to stay in bed. This time I woke up at 5:10 and did not feel like I'd be able to fall asleep soon enough to get anything out of it, so I decided to just get up.

Started with Jeff, James, and Benjamin on a bike. At 2 miles hid Benjamin's bike in the bushes and he ran with us. We ended up running 2 fastest continuous miles for the day with him - 14:21 with the splits of 7:18 and 7:03. Matt joined us shortly after Benjamin started running and ran to the end of his run.

Benjamin got back on his bike and we took him and James home, so that was 6 miles. Then I wanted to measure Jeff tugging power against mine. So we got out the harness and tried running in opposite directions. Jeff was a clear winner in the running motion - I was steadily moving backwards. Then we tried facing each other and play a tug-of-war with no arms, squatting down and pushing the harness with our backs. In that motion Jeff was a little bit stronger, but not as much as in the running motion.

Then we went for another 6 miles, and Benjamin wanted to ride along with us, so we took him as well. We were discussing the results of the test. They were rather interesting. We measured my leg extension to be better than Jeff's in the absolute value earlier (although it was a little bit worse relative to body weight). Yet in the running motion Jeff was clearly stronger, not just in proportion to his body weight, but in the absolute power of the pull. To add to this, in 2003 I increased my hamstring curl max by 50%, and the leg extension by 10%, yet the increase in individual muscle group strengths did not make any difference in an all out 100 sprint. So this led to the contemplation of the need to be able to use the muscles together, that there might be some kind of limit not related to individual muscle strength that you could hit when you have to use several muscle groups. We started talking about the kangaroo, how its preferred way of motion is hopping, and began to wonder exactly how inefficient humans are at moving this way.

So we did a kangaroo hop for 100 meters. The results were interesting. Jeff was a much better kangaroo. He hopped it in 33 seconds, while it took me 49! However, my HR got up to 140, which (over 49 seconds) suggests I was probably putting in an equivalent of maybe 5:30 running effort. We did not have an HRM on Jeff, but subjectively he said he really felt the pain of the effort. Our next experiment was the bound - cover 100 meters in the least number of steps. Jeff bounded 100 meters in 46 steps and it took him 20 seconds. I took fewer steps (44), but it took me 21.5 seconds. We did one more experiment - 100 m sprint on one leg. Jeff did it in 25 seconds, I did it in 28.

This gave us some food for thought. One legged hop was consistent with our all out sprint difference. The bound results were consistent with what we've seen in the past, although we still do not understand why I can bound further than Jeff while he outdoes me by quite a bit in every other strength measurement prorated for body weight that we have tried so far. Perhaps the leg length? But at the same time, I've performed on par in the past with people my height in a bound that would outsprint me by quite a margin (24.5 200 for the peer group vs 27.5 for me). And I am not that much taller than Jeff anyway (5'8 vs 5'10). So we still have this bound mystery to solve.

The difference between the kangaroo and the one legged jump was interesting. Both of us were faster on one leg than on two. Probably because the other leg was making a good contribution with a swing, which was more than what it could have contributed in the power when forced to be on the ground at the same time. One question that remains unanswered is why I did such a bad kangaroo job. One thing I can try is see if I can improve it with training, and when improved if it will have an effect on the all out speed.

Then we ran into a lady on the trail that was doing 8x800 with 1 minute rest at about 3:05-3:15 range. Her names was Cherri Erickson. So we paced her over a few of those. She has 3 children, used to run for BYU, and graduated in 1994.


1.05 with Julia in 10:23, 2.1 with Jenny in 18:45, another mile with no running kids. Pushed Jacob and Joseph the entire time.

Five Fingers - 880.20 miles.

Night Sleep Time: 7.17Nap Time: 0.83Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From RivertonPaul on Mon, Aug 04, 2008 at 16:44:46

I always enjoy your scientific approach.

From Maria on Tue, Aug 05, 2008 at 08:10:13

How did you do the kangaroo hopping? Did you bring your knees as high as possible? If you did, to do it for 100m is very tough. I remember doing what we called kangaroo jump in Russia as part of the drills, although we were hopping in place. It was hard, and sometimes I would get sore abs the next day. You need to have very strong abdominal muscles to be able to bring both knees up to your chest. Maybe Jeff has stronger abs and was able to move faster? Although bounding requires strong abs too, and you were better at it (provided you both used the same technique).

From jeffmc on Tue, Aug 05, 2008 at 12:25:38

the only thing that we specified when we did the kangaroo jump test was to make sure that both feet hit at the same time, and to try and go as fast as possible. I found that I went fastest when I kept my feet as low as possible to the ground while jumping, concurrently focusing not on how far I jumped but on how fast I jumped. Thus, I was taking lots of short quick hops, more like a bunny hop than a kangaroo hop. I also added in a little arm swing which seemed to help as well.

From Mike K on Wed, Aug 06, 2008 at 13:21:16

I think you would like Brad Hudson's new book. He wrote it with Matt Fitzgerald.

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