Breaking the Wall

August 10, 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

Easy 8 miles with Ted in the morning. Both of us were sleepy. Tried to start chasing the 7:30 guy at 4 miles, but did not gain much on him because we were too sleepy and chatty at the same time - how is that possible? Finally, at 6 miles got serious. Caught him, then went after the 7:25 guy, got him too. 59:11 for 8 miles. HR was normal, even too low perhaps. Stayed under 120 until the chase began, maxed at 140 during the chase going about 6:15.

Ran with the kids in the afternoon. Put on ankle weights while pushing Jenny in the single stroller. First ran 0.5 with Benjamin in 3:45. Then another 0.5, and of course this time around I had to beat Benjamin's time, and every one of his splits. Ran 3:32.

Went to see Dr. Jex. My neck has made some progress - the curvature angle increased from 16 degrees to 23 ( ideal 45), while the head tilt decreased from 18 mm to 8 mm (ideal 0). However, according to Dr. Jex, the changes in the lower spine do not start happening until the neck curvature angle is at least 27 degrees. And, according to my expectations, there will be no signficant improvements in running until the lower spine starts to re-shape. So there is quite a bit more work left to do before I can say anything about the effectiveness of the Pettibon system in improving running speed and economy.

If anybody reading this is or knows a graduate or PHD exercise physiology student that needs a research topic, here is something I would really like to seriously get researched. The relationship between the shape of the spine, the maximum running speed, and the running economy in aerobically well-developed distance runners with the dominance of slow-twitch fiber types. My hypothesis is that given the same fast-slow twitch ratio, running economy, top speed, and the spinal shape will correlate to a high degree.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Zac on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 09:06:45


I've been trying to track down a good marathon prep plan. I've got a lot of time before any planned races but I was wondering if you knew of any good, challenging plans (like the Hal Hidgon's Advance) that maintain Sunday as the rest day. I've been thinking to try his Advance I plan but swap the days a bit.

Anyway, I just wondered if you knew of a good plan that already is written out that I could follow that maintains Sunday as the rest day.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 10:24:49

Zac - the best plan is to get out 6 days a week and put in a decent amount of miles on a daily basis gradually increasing as your are ready for it. There is no special plan that will get you there. In my opinion, plans are for Runners World and other similar publications to boost their sales. I do not even bother to subscribe to RW or any other magazine, not worth the money or the time. My neighbor loves to read RW. I keep telling him if he used the time he spends reading RW to actually train, he would qualify for Boston.

For some reason, the simple idea of just get your lazy rear end out and do the work just does not sell. It has to be some magic plan. But if you ask the front pack runners what secret got them there, the answer is inevitably - no secret other than discipline and hard work.

From Zac on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 11:08:58


Do you prescribe to any general formulas as far as when to begin more challenging endurance runs and speed work?

Where should your heart rate be for a typical run?

I just want to get a little more educated about some of the general mechanics.

I've never prescribed to a running plan in the past but thought that perhaps it would make a difference. I've always done the best in the past when I've run a steady 50 miles +/- per week and put in a couple 20 milers a few weeks before the race. I just wondered if there was some better way.

Anyway, I appreciate your advice.

From Paul Petersen on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 13:40:34

Sasha, I hope you don't mind if throw in a comment about this...

Zac, I'll agree with what Sasha wrote and add a little bit to it. I think it's best to understand the principles behind training first, and then develop a personalized training plan based off that. It is good to know what the different kinds of training are (V02Max, MP, LT, easy, long, etc.), why we need them, and approximately how much of each to do. So if I were to get an existing traing plan, I would get one that thoroughly discusses the reasoning behind the training plan. Pfitzinger's "Advanced Marathoning" is a good book to start with that explains running physiology in understandable terms. You could use the information and sample schedules in a book like that to devise your own personal plan that applies the same principles but works within your own schedule and needs.

It is also important to note that everyone is a little different, and there is some element of trial and error before you lock in on the training program that works for you.

From Sasha Pachev on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 14:16:37

Zac - I agree with Paul. Understand the principles of building fitness, and then develop a training plan for yourself from it.

To get to sub-3 hours for you from where you are now, your old method should be sufficient, except maybe I would work towards a higher mileages - 60-70 when you are ready for it. Your problem now is not so much that you lack speed - what you lack is base.

More often than not, the reason for a poor performance in the marathon is not so much that you've chosen a bad plan, but more so because of poor execution. If you cover 60 miles a week in some reasonable manner you will run well.

From Zac on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 14:26:51

Paul and Sasha, thanks for the good advice. I've run for years (mostly luke warm though). I just want to step it up a bit and a little more knowledge would be very helpful. I appreciate the direction.

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