Breaking the Wall

Week starting Apr 19, 2009

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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: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
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: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 45.60Saucony Type A Miles: 34.70
Night Sleep Time: 57.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 57.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church.

Night Sleep Time: 9.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 9.00
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Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Ted, Daniel, and Mary Ann. Ted ran 6. Daniel ran 8. Mary Ann ran 10, but only the first mile with us. Total time 1:12:57.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:55. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:37.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.00
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 Ted, Jeff, and Daniel. They ran easy. I did The Interval. Decided 2 miles would be good with the first 1.25 in 6:40 and then try to keep a faster pace. Cut it short if not feeling good, was not expecting to feel that good today. However, I ended up feeling better than I thought. So I ran the first 1.25 on target, then 77, 79, 78. 10:34.2 for 2 miles, last mile in 5:14. Then I started jogging back. Did not see them. Figured they had turned around, decided to try to catch them. Ran a mile in 5:21, my legs were getting tired, and they were still not in sight. Figured they turned around early. So just jogged back to the house. Found them, turned out they just ran faster than I expected them. Ran the last 3.25 with Daniel.

Was not completely unhappy with how 5:20 pace felt today, was happy with the intensity of breathing and the heart involvement, this means the nervous system did well.  But I was not quite satisfied. Too tense, hard to find the rhythm. Maybe what I should do is practice running a slower pace and learn a good rhythm. Then try to speed up to 5:20 without losing the rhythm. Then if I feel it is going away, slow down and try to regain it. That's an idea for Thursday workout - good rhythm tempo run. No time goals, 6:00 pace is good if it is the fastest pace that can be done with good rhythm.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:07. Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:44. Then Jenny ran the last 0.5 in 3:23. 2 with Benjamin in 16:45 with a 1:25 quarter in the middle.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 10.00
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 Ted, Jeff, and Daniel. Towards the end of 6 miles ran into Ben Crozier. Ran more with him and Daniel. Ben did 2x1 mile first on a slight uphill in 6:53, then coming back after some rest in 6:30. Then ran the cooldown with Ben to his car and back. Total distance was 11.1, time 1:27:36.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 19:15, Julia ran the first 1.5 in 14:45. 2 with Benjamin in 16:11. 200 with Jacob in 1:29. 0.5 with Joseph in 5:37.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 11.10
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. 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
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff, Ted, and Daniel. Jeff and Ted stopped at 6. Daniel and I did 9 in 1:06:something. Then 2 with Jenny in 18:40, 1.5 with Julia in 14:25, and 2 with Benjamin in 15:50. Benjamin ran the last 0.75 in 4:54. Pushed William during the kids' runs.

Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 14.50
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. Started with Jeff, Daniel, Ted, and his son James. He used to be little James, but he is getting bigger. Ran the first 2 in 15:06 then started my very long tempo. The plan was to run the 10.1 course twice for the whole run tempoing the last 18.2 of it. No pace goal again, focus on running in a nice relaxed rhythm. I am quickly converting into the good rhythm goal/no pace goal religion. Pace goals are meaningless. You can run exact same pace in a workout and get very different results. If you force your way through it you learn to run tense. That is not what we want, we want to learn to run relaxed, and we cannot know in advance what pace will create the best educational experience on a given day at a given point in the run. Most definitely it will vary not only from day to day but from spot to spot in the run. It has to be by feel, we take the splits only for observation.

So at first I was running 6:00 pace, occasionally a little faster, and it felt just right, as fast as I could go without excessive muscle strain. I was concerned about that. 6:00 should have felt dog slow this early in the run, and it did not. I was expecting very miserable 6:10 later on if not worse. 33:11 total time at 5.05, then came back in 30:12 (1:03:23). At this point Jeff joined me on a bike and he had my magic bottle containing a special drink of evaporated cane juice from Costco diluted in water. 700 ml of water, about 10 teaspoons of cane juice. Keep it simple. I have a feeling that Powerade and Gatorade to meeting energy needs are what expensive brand name shoes are to injury prevention. There has to be something very simple and basic not associated with any brand name that will do a much better job. So I created my own mix in search of that and was trying it out today.

The arrival of Jeff created two positives. Having him around produced some excitement. So I had more adrenaline and the pace started to feel easier. Also, the sweetness of the drink produced a nervous system reboot to help that cause, followed up by the actual energy arriving 10-15 minutes later. I found myself hitting 84 second quarters from time to time and they did not feel miserable at all. At one point managed an 87 while drinking from the bottle. Jeff gave me the bottle at 10.5, and then every two miles. Got to 15.15 in 1:32:33 (29:11 for 5.05).

Felt strong in the next couple of miles, but then started to feel stale. So I started asking for the bottle more often, every half mile or so. That did the trick. I would lose a second during the bottle quarter, but then get back to pace. At that point I was going around 5:55 pace and felt I could make it home. With 0.5 to go Jeff started yelling at me, and I pushed harder. Did an 87 quarter followed by 83. Was surprised that a) I could do 83 at this point and b) even though I was running as hard as I could I felt relaxed.

So 2:02:09 for 20.2 miles, 6:02.8 average. Excluding the warmup, 1:47:03 for 18.2, 5:52.9 average. Last 10.1 in 58:46, 5:49.1 average. Do not recall my split at 7.1 exactly, but the last half marathon of the run would have been around 1:16:45.

I will give my new magic drink an A rating based on this experience.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin, Jenny, James, and Jared in 17:58. Julia ran 3 miles earlier with Sarah.

Saucony Type A Miles: 20.20
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Vibram Five Fingers Miles: 45.60Saucony Type A Miles: 34.70
Night Sleep Time: 57.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 57.00
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