Breaking the Wall

January 23, 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: 188.26 Year: 188.26
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: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff and Benjamin again at Grandview. Wore my new Water Clogs this time because the grass has been getting too cold to run barefoot. Benjamin did 17:21 with us in the first 2. Then we picked it up a bit. Jeff went home after 15 laps because he had to run to Kimia's work to get the car. 

Picked it up in the last two laps - ran them in 2:21 and 2:19 - around 6:00 pace. The grass was slippery, but the form felt good. Nevertheless the heel fussed some. Total time for 10.04 was 1:15:43.

P.M. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:25. New record for him. Splits of 2:15 - 2:10. Then rode the bike with Jenny and Julia. Jenny got 19:14 for 2 miles. Julia 14:24 for 1.5.

Water Clogs Miles: 10.54
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
From The Howling Commando on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 20:04:17 from

Hey Sasha. Hope all is well. Have a question for you: What are your thoughts about arms for long distance running. My brother Jonn says i have horrible form because I tend to swing my arms out and side to side as I run instead of forwards and backwards. Since I am bowlegged and overpronate and everything.. is this just the way my body compensates for poor biomechanics? Or should I be spending more time fixing this. How would you suggest I try to fix it? Maybe spend the last five minutes of every run thinking more about arms then legs? Usually I've just always "gone" and not worried but I don't know. Anything to prevent a possible injury?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 20:14:12 from

Many world-class runners do something weird with their arms. My opinion is that the arms will do whatever it takes to atone for the sins of the legs and the core. So you can monitor your arms to estimate the degree of the transgression of the rest of the body.

I believe it is wrong to focus too much on one particular aspect of the form. Instead you should focus on the overall balance. Does it feel smooth and natural? Are you able to relax the muscles that are not working? Do you feel power in your step? Note that a form does not have to look good to be efficient. If you feel smooth and run fast, but it looks ugly to others, that's OK.

From The Howling Commando on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 20:53:52 from

I tried to explain to Jonn that I run because it completes me and that I feel stronger than I ever have . He said my legs looked good when I was running but that my arms were everywhere. I have orthotics but I've noticed that just from using Vibrams my arch is getting stronger so that I don't go completely flatfoot when I walk around now (as documented by looking at wet footprints). Just curious about your gluten free regimen. How will you get all the fuel you need for your 100s of miles every week?

From Ashbaker on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 13:15:21 from

Thanks for the input Sasha. Appreciated much. I kind of knew that but didn't want to accept it. But please tell me what or how do you explain Paul's performance? He is a very good runner but how do you explain it considering his lack of long runs and overall base?

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 14:07:39 from


There are still a lot of things you can eat that do not have gluten. Most grains, all fruits and vegetables, and nuts. The restriction is wheat, barley, and rye. There are very modest amounts of gluten in oats, but I will not worry about that and still eat them. I was eating oats in 2003 when I had my miraculous breakthrough.

Steve - something happened with Paul that we do not yet understand. The only thing I can say, though, with a measure of certainty is that he is able to run fast in spite of his training, not because of it. There was a newly appearing factor X that made up for the lack of training. As you have seen in your own case, duplicating his mileage did not duplicate his results.

From redrooster on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 14:38:02 from

If we can figure out what that factor X is I would love to bottle it and sell it. Or at least take advantage of it. the gluten free thing intrigues me. I am going to have to research that.

what exactly are water clogs anyway? minimal sandals or something?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 16:04:25 from

Scott - they are cheap Crocs that could not be called Crocs due to trademark issues. I got them online from Target for $10 including shipping.

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