Breaking the Wall

November 12, 2019

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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: 25.33 Year: 3286.80
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: 33.72
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Warmed up with Ted and Jeff, then ran on my own. Did The Good Rhythm Tempo. The idea is to run relaxed, focus on the rhythm and feeling smooth, observe the pace, but not try to hit any particular targets. If running sub-6:00 creates a strain, then we run 6:00 and no faster.

Distance: 5 miles on my standard course. Splits: 5:45, 5:43, 5:44 (14:19 at 2.5), 5:44, 5:28. Total time 28:24.6.

Subjective/Descriptive: Felt relaxed at 5:44 pace, barely breathing, but felt that going faster would create a muscular strain that would make it difficult to practice efficient rhythm. In the last mile decided to press harder. Thought that as much as my legs fought going faster than 5:44 that I should expect about 5:35 out of the last mile given that it is 5-7 seconds slower than flat. I was surprised with a 5:28. Was breathing a lot harder and had to focus a lot more, but at least I had the ability. Felt that after practicing good rhythm for 4 miles at a slower pace/lower muscular effort the faster pace/higher muscular effort was not breaking my rhythm too bad. In fact, I felt that I owed that 7 second gain to the rhythm.

Thoughts: I have said before that I felt the lactate level is as much of a red herring as the intensity of breathing. To say you slowed down because the lactate levels were too high makes as much sense as to say you slowed down because you were breathing too hard, or even more plainly - because you reached the pace that you could not sustain. Which in essence says nothing - could not run fast because could not run fast. Rhythm is a different story. I am willing to believe that a runner could slow down a lot because he lost his rhythm. In other words, he started working against himself expending more effort while running slower.

Once the aerobic capacity is present, the focus should be on rhythm. You need to do whatever it takes to learn a good rhythm, know the best rhythm for your body and the race you are running, be able to kick into it from the gun, be able to find it quickly after a surge, a water stop, or a hill. Have an uphill rhythm, a downhill rhythm, a flat rhythm, a headwind rhythm, a tailwind rhythm, and a roller rhythm at your fingertips. Good rhythm means the muscles that should relax do relax when they should, and the ones that should contract contract when they should. It is all about timing. Ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta. It gives maximum forward thrust with minimum energy expenditure. In a marathon good rhythm could make a quite a difference - pushing the wall away by 3 miles can easily produce a 5 minute improvement or more. Rhythm is critical.

Afterwards ran 2 with Jenny in 17:47, 1.5 with Julia in 15:26, and 2 with Benjamin in 16:59.

Saucony Type A Miles: 14.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
From Cheryl on Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 19:17:04 from

I absolutely agree with you. I've recently been working on changing my form so that I run more relaxed and more with the rhythm you're talking about, and my times are faster on less effort. It's a great way to get faster without doing any speedwork or anything like that--just get the running form more correct.

From Jon on Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 16:46:49 from

Not sure how the Lone Faithfuls works on the blog. Mary Ann is on there right now, although her most recent post from this week has 4 comments. And her one from last weekend has almost 100.

From air darkhorse on Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 22:16:50 from

I was doing some reading on running being a learned skill not unlike so many other sports. I started to have a memory of the time I ran a 4:42 mile some years ago. It wasn't because of the time so much as it was the the way it felt. I had experienced a powerful, almost bouncing like forward stride. You might be on to something. I'm just not sure where to begin uncovering this notion. Good luck with this.

From air darkhorse on Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 22:20:06 from

Efficient stretch reflex maybe?

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