Breaking the Wall

January 18, 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. 10.1 alone in 1:09:48. Did a 2 mile pickup from 7.1 to 9.1 in 11:55. Considered running all 3 at that pace, but decided to remain on the side of caution. Noticed that at 6:00 pace I am barely breathing, but it does not feel easy because of the muscular strain and the need for focus.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 17:23 with Jenny running the first 1.5 in 13:17. 1 with Julia in 9:28. 

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.10
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Phoenix on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 20:51:09

In response to our discussion on your other post:

I suspect the fatigue is still neurological in origin. A runner of your caliber, training history, and "slow" phenotype does go acidotic at 5 and 1/2 minutes miles.

Your body has probably habituated to your current (as in month in and month out) training load. Have you considered periodizing a little or making some other training adjustment to make the jump to the next level?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 22:46:55


I have no doubt there is some neural failure involved. The question I have is why in the world the behavior mimics the symptoms of the lack of aerobic fitness so closely. The neurological failure on a bad day always corresponds with HR over 160.

I have noticed that doing 400 meter repeats reduces the probability of bad days defined earlier. It may not be the acid, but there is some neurological inhibitor X at work that you get more of the faster you go that correlates with the HR. When I run lots and really fast, I learn to resist it better, and there is the memory - I can do no speed work, not even tempos for as long as 6 months with no deterioration in performance, and then the bad days start happening more often. There is also a limit - after about 2-3 months of speed work my ability to deal with this inhibitor X does not improve any more.

I am still curious to know what this inhibitor X might be.

From bc on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 00:57:40

Sasha, Can you make it for the USATF election and annual meeting Thursday night at 7, Murray Library. It is important that we get a big group in attendance.


From Phoenix on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 13:44:03


I don't think what you are experiencing mimics a lack of aerobic fitness. If aerobic fitness were lacking, your breathing would become extremely labored as fatigue overcame you. From what I've read, the opposite happens.

Besides corresponding to VO2, HR corresponds to neural output, probably even more so because stroke volume confounds HR. So, if you have a central governor operating on a hair trigger, it will shut you down via limiting neural output. This is likely to be dependent on cross some neural stress threshold.

I have the opposite problem you do. It is very, very easy for me to overtrain because my nervous system is easily hyperactivated. This not only applied to my running, but to my weightlifting also. My brother who ran 1:49 for 800m is also the same way. If I step on the gas too hard, I'll crank out so much "neural juice" that I'm left depleted and overtrained. This has been my downfall in the fast. I barely have to try to do this, so its a chronic battle for me to stay in control during speed work, or, if I let loose, to get in and out quickly. I think this is why at the end of a 5k can, where I have been running at "100%", I can still kick very hard. At the Homecoming 5K finishing on the track I closed in 26 (14,12--I hit the splits). I assure you I was suffering and hurting a lot during that race, but when I pulled the trigger, neural output soared.

Interestingly the Bulgarian weightlifting program, which routinely produces some of the best lifters in the world, stresses the importance of not "reaching competition levels of arousal in training." The transfers 100% to running.

I think in your case, you should find that speed that puts you right on the edge of neural failure. Run some intervals at the speed, and when you have the slighest perception that the clamps are about to come down, accelerate briefly, and then end the interval. Jog for a while and repeat. The idea is to manually overide the governor while you still have a choice but shut down before it assumes full executive control. Repeating such sessions may help you to reset it.

From Sahsa Pachev on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 16:01:20

As you know this is not a post from you but is really from RivertonPaul. I put your name in the name just to show that someone can mistakenly, or purposefully, post a comment as someone else and the it links to the named person's blog address. Once posted, I know of no way to correct the mistake as the erroneous poster. You may already be aware of this, but I appreciate the blog and wanted to point it out to you.

From RivertonPaul on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 16:01:44

The last post was not from Sasha, but from me.

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