Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jan 17, 2010

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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: 107.61 Year: 107.61
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
Water Clogs 2 Miles: 82.75
Night Sleep Time: 45.50Nap Time: 10.50Total Sleep Time: 56.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to Church. In addition to our regular meetings we had the State Priesthood meeting at 7:00 AM. Very appropriately, the opening hymn was Rise Up, O Men of God.

In the Sacrament meeting we had a talk on obedience with a lot of examples from the Old Testament. Old Testament is full of examples when seemingly small acts of disobedience to God's commandments resulted in severe punishments. Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt for looking back as they were fleeing Sodom. Achan was stoned for taking some of the riches of Jericho. The sins of Sabbath breaking and idol worship were punished by stoning as well.

I have wondered why the punishment had to be so severe. Perhaps because it was critical to the survival of Israel to learn that there is no such thing as a small rebellion against God. Failure to obey precisely has dire spiritual consequences. God has not changed. While similar sins today are not punished by being stoned, disobedience weakens our faith a lot. So we are still punished, but only by the natural consequences that come upon us as a result of our weakened faith instead. This will be worse than being stoned if we do not repent. Alma in chapter 12 talks about how when we stand before God and see our sins in plainness we would wish that the rocks could fall upon us to hide us from His presence.

On the other hand, obedience results in stronger faith, and it is something we are going to need in the last days very much. Even more after this life is over. Our faith, the strength of our spirit, is the only form of wealth we get to carry out of this world.

Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.2 with Jeff in 1:26:58. Hardly any snow on the ground, but very slippery due to ice. Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah.

P.M. 1 with Benjamin and Julia in 9:19. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:58. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:58.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 11.95
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. Met him on the trail. 11 miles in 1:29:19. Slippery, but with some dry stretches. Did a couple of pickups, all around 5:20 pace. 400 in 79, 700 in 2:21, another 400 in 81.

Jenny ran 2.5 with Sarah. 

P.M. All kids are now back to full health. 2 with Benjamin in 16:58. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:00. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:30. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:55. 

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 13.75
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 7.50Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Met Jeff on the trail. Ran 10.1 in 1:21:40. At the start the trail was OK, but then got slippery later on. 

Came to check my e-mail this morning. Oops. Last night I was making changes in the blog, and forgot to test everything before making them live. So this morning my mailbox was full of error reports. I have fixed it now, I think. Sorry about that.

At least it is nice to know that the blog is being used.

As a side effect, there is a non-working feature - graph view. You can pretend to use it. Hopefully in the next couple of days it will become a working feature. 

P.M. 2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:02. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 12:57. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:23. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:44. 

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 12.85
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 1.50Total Sleep Time: 9.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 10.35 in 1:19:54. Met Jeff on the trail. Ran the last 1.96 in 11:45. The speed was affected by three slippery tunnels where I had to go slower than 8:00, a rough road stretch, 5 turns, a snow-drift jump, headwind and wet road. I figure the effort was worth around 5:40-5:45 pace. About 0.37 away from the house I passed a car that was backing out of the driveway. It did not catch me for another 200 meters. It felt good to hold off a car, even if it was for only 200 meters.

P.M.  2 with Benjamin in 16:36, last quarter in 89. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:20. 0.5 with Joseph in 3:51, splits of 2:01 and 1:50. That is his new record for the distance. I asked him afterwards if it was hard. He said no. I never thought of Joseph as having a running talent when he was younger due to his shuffling stride. But running every day is fixing the problem. Jenny also shuffled a lot when she was 3 and 4, but by about the age of 6 she developed a smooth form. Ted once took her for a run and commented that she looked like a miniature elite runner.

That makes me wonder if the Kenyan "talent" comes mostly from running naturally and a lot at a young age. I believe the genes are only a rough outline of what you are going to be. That is a human and not a dog. The color of your skin, the shape of your face, etc. That type of stuff you cannot change.

But when it comes to athletic performance deep down we have all kinds of genes that could give us all kinds of talent. The question is which ones will get expressed and how much, and this is controlled to a great extent by what our mother does when she is pregnant and what we do at a young age.

Ran 0.25 with Jacob in 2:51. It was very windy, and I was concerned about how well he'd handle it, but he toughed it out.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 13.10
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran alone. 10.4 in 1:18:06. Did a couple of pickups. 200 up a small grade (0.5%) in 38, and 400 in 79. During the pickups the form felt better than I expected from the perception at easy pace.

P.M. Hailstorm/snow. 2 with Benjamin in 17:17. Julia ran the first 1.5 with us in 13:28. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:40. He liked the storm more than any of the children. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:43. Jacob wore a Russian fur hat.

The "virtual" graph feature is now somewhat functional. Buggy, but should work fine on normal templates if you have run in every one of the zones over the month. Otherwise you get the gist but looks a little funny. If you have non-running or really odd template you will see some interesting things. I'll fix the bugs over the next week.   Yes, and apparently I did not break the data entry, since I can type in this one.


Water Clogs 2 Miles: 13.15
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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A.M. Ran with Jeff. Lots of snow, but runnable. Decent traction. Ran 15.2 in 1:57:12. Just for kicks we did a hard quarter on snow. 80 seconds with about a 70 second effort.

Had a discussion on muscle spindles, and the effect of hypersensitive spindles in hip flexors on running economy. My suspicion is that a hip flexor is the worst place for a runner to have a hypersensitive spindle because it will make the hip flexor contract to resist the stretch during the later phases of the ground contact as the body moves forward and the hip is extended. Such an inopportune hip flexor contraction will then having a braking effect on the forward motion. There is really no other joint I can think of where excessive stretch reflex is so undesirable when running.

The reason we got so technical in the discussion is that I've read some research showing that a trigger point is a bundle of hypersensitive spindle tissue, I do have some nasty trigger point in my right hip flexors, and my range of motion in the right hip extension when running is noticeably worse than on the left side. To make things more interesting, stretching the hip flexors has never done anything for my running speed. I can improve the static range of motion, but the stretch reflex resistance is still there.

So I have a thought on the importance of flexibility for a runner. A number of studies demonstrated that faster runners are not that flexible. Yet it is fairly obvious that if you have zero flexibility you will not run at all. So what's up? I've wondered about it for a while and never had anything meaningful to say except the obvious "you just have to have a balance". Now I think I finally have something worth sharing.

The flexibility in and of itself is not important. What is important is to have low antagonist muscle resistance in the critical range of motion in critical motions in critical joints. The only critical joint/motion I can think of the is the hip joint and the motion of extension. You do need to have a reasonable range of motion, enough to run, but that is good enough. You do not need a gymnast's range of motion or anywhere close.  In some joints/motions the high antagonist resistance may actually be good. E.g. knee flexion and dorsi-flexion. Not so high that you get injured, but as high as you can get away with. So that means it is good for the quads and the calves to be a little tight.

But when it comes to the hip joint, things are a little different because resistance to hip extension is a braking agent. Normal running range of motion is not too difficult to achieve. But we do not want just the range of motion. Improving the range of motion does us zero good if we did not reduce the stretch reflex of the hip flexors in the normal running range of motion. And stretching in some cases (maybe more often than in "some cases") can make it worse by irritating the spindle tissue and thus increasing the stretch reflex. The fix in this case would be to work on the trigger points in the hip flexors to eliminate them and restore the muscles to their normal state.

The above, of course, is all just theory now. I'll have a chance to test it this year.

P.M.  2 with Benjamin and Jenny in 17:19. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 13:26. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:38. 0.25 with Jacob in 2:25.

Water Clogs 2 Miles: 17.95
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Water Clogs 2 Miles: 82.75
Night Sleep Time: 45.50Nap Time: 10.50Total Sleep Time: 56.00
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