Breaking the Wall

Week starting Nov 01, 2009

Previous WeekRecent EntriesHomeJoin Fast Running Blog Community!PredictorHealthy RecipesSasha Pachev's RacesFind BlogsMileage BoardTop Ten Excuses for Missing a RunTop Ten Training MistakesDiscussion ForumRace Reports Send A Private MessageMonth ViewYear View
Graph View
Next Week
15% off for Fast Running Blog members at St. George Running Center!


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:

Click to donate
to Ukraine's Armed Forces
Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 870.94
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 640.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 450.37
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Brown Crocs 4 Lifetime Miles: 1334.06
Amoji 1 Lifetime Miles: 732.60
Amoji 2 Lifetime Miles: 436.69
Amoji 3 Lifetime Miles: 380.67
Lopsie Sports Sandals Lifetime Miles: 818.02
Lopsie Sports Sandals 2 Lifetime Miles: 637.27
Iprome Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 346.18
Beslip Garden Clogs Lifetime Miles: 488.26
Joybees 1 Lifetime Miles: 1035.60
Madctoc Clogs Lifetime Miles: 698.29
Blue Crocs Lifetime Miles: 1164.32
Kimisant Black Clogs Lifetime Miles: 720.62
Black Crocs 2023 Lifetime Miles: 1312.70
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Airwalk Clogs Miles: 59.50
Night Sleep Time: 55.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 55.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Day of rest. Went to church. Had a lesson on faith in Sunday school. Had some thoughts.

What exactly is faith? How does it really work? Faith is a very subtle thing. I would compare it to the TH sound in English. To a foreigner that does not have TH in his native language it may sound like T, S or F, but it is not T, nor S, and not even F, it is TH!

I would also compare it to driving on a narrow road in the fog while being pursued by the Russian mafia. You veer to the right and you hear the rumble on your right. That is how you know you went too far to the right. You veer to the left and you hear the rumble on the left. That is how you  know you went too far to the left. You get scared of crashing and you let the foot off the gas, and the pursuers get dangerously close. So you floor the pedal and you listen for the rumble on your left and on your right. You must have no fear, yet you need to have a sense of balance and constantly adjust your course so you will not leave the bounds that the Lord has given.

I would also compare faith with physical endurance. In a Kenyan village the best way to get around for a boy is to run. So he does whether he wants to or not. Thus he develops a gift of endurance. In America the best way to get around  is to drive. So that same boy while getting to places faster does not develop his gift of endurance quite the same. Instead of using the gift of science and technology to increase his fitness he becomes overly dependent on them and allows his fitness to slack. The blessings of scientific progress and resulting prosperity have become a curse because of our lack of gratitude for them.

Very similar with faith. When the necessities of life are no longer a daily certainty you have to rely on faith in order to survive. Thus a culture of faith develops. People grow up knowing what faith is and having a practical experience with it. It is as natural as saying TH to an native English speaker. With science and technology guaranteeing the necessities of life we become spiritually lazy and do not develop our faith quite the same. We could have used those gifts to create a culture of faith, but instead we become overdependent on them and our faith becomes atrophied. We are not able to see God with our spiritual eyes anymore. We want proof. We cannot tell the difference between right and wrong on our own, or are not even able to acknowledge it when taught by those who see. The little that we see by the Spirit we do not trust. The spiritual vision has become 20/800, God is 20 feet away from us but it looks like it is 800.

So what shall we do then? To develop our physical endurance we run. We defy the norm in a good way. Our friends think we are crazy for getting up every morning and running for an hour or more. Especially since we usually end up at the same place we started. Same needs to happen with faith. The mindset needs to change. We need not to be afraid to act on faith. Stop asking for proof. If deep down you know it is right, do it. If deep down you know it is wrong, do not do it. Learn to trust your inner sense of right and wrong, it atrophies otherwise. There will, of course, be missteps, given that we start with a spiritual vision of 20/800 or worse. But faith is developed by doing things that require it, and overtime that vision will become 20/600, 20/400, so on all the way up to 20/20.

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

A.M. 10 with Jeff in 1:14:59. Benjamin ran the first 2 with us in 15:37. I have transitioned to running on pavement instead of grass. Seems to make no difference for the foot. The dull pain is still there, about the same before or after the run. Day of rest does not do anything for it.

The speed does affect it though. I believe it has to do with the fact that due to more vigorous movement it  becomes difficult to keep the heel from touching the ground hard.  At slower speeds I am able to land on my toes and gently lower the heel later.

Could this be a minor stress fracture?

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 8 by myself on pavement in 55:38, then 3 more with Benjamin in 23:16.

Contemplated the form. Tried to figure out why it feels/looks weird. Perceived problem - some odd overstriding. I reach out in front with the foot, then start pulling it back, which is good, but it still lands too far out in front. Tried to understand why I do this. Then tried a trick on a whim - more aggressive hamstring action at the end of the stance. That in theory should help relax the quad, and also bring the knee up a little higher, and get rid of my patented backwards leg reach that kicks the competitors that are following too closely.

I liked the feel of it. Did not have an HRM with me to document the energy expenses, but it did seem that I was able to run a faster pace with less effort. The question is why I do not do that hamstring action naturally. I hope that it is just because I learned it wrong early on and never bothered to relearn because I had a workaround that kind of worked. A contributing factor could have been a knee injury at the age of 12, right around those formative years, that made it painful to bend the knee, and then the pattern of working around it became ingrained to the point that when challenged to run better by increased speed/distance I would simply invent a better workaround than address the root of the problem.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 17:20. Julia ran 1.5 with us in 12:44. Took Joseph with me to vote. We ran there and back. On the way back I got disoriented in the dark and we went the wrong way for a while. So we ended up running some unintentional distance. Joseph thought it was fun, though, but started to get a bit tired towards the end. The whole run took us 11:29. Will call that 1.1.

Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Jeff got swine flu. But he did not know it until after the run. But he did know something was wrong. So we ran very slowly on purpose. 10.1 in 1:23:59.

P.M. 2 with Benjamin in 16:01. Joseph, Julia, and Jenny ran their usual distances with Sarah on a bike.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. 2 with Benjamin in 15:45. Then 8 more in 54:06. Monitored the form. Paid attention to the following: quicker knee flexion after the end of stance phase, relaxation of the quads while in the air, perception of effort, and the actual pace. Picked it up in the last mile and ran it in 6:02 gradually accelerating with the last quarter in 85. Liked the feel of the body at 5:40 pace. Felt the quads were able to relax and let the blood flow through them with less obstruction.

P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:23. Julia ran 1.5 in 13:54. Joseph ran 0.5 with Benjamin in 5:15.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran 2 with Benjamin in 16:25, and then 8 more in 52:19. Last mile in 5:55.

P.M. 1.5  with Jenny and Julia in 13:12. 0.5 with Joseph in 4:52.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. Ran with Jeff. He is mostly over the swine flu. He monitored my form and compared it to what he saw in the footage of the Berlin marathon. He was able to see elite men, and the slower group that was running with the women. He noticed that almost every one of the slower men had a stiff looking spine, while none of the elite men did. Then he noticed that not surprisingly I had a stiff back. We spent some time trying to figure out the cause of it.  The only way I could make it look not too bad was to lean forward excessively. Did some experimentation to see how hard it would be to run with that kind of lean at faster paces. So we ran 0.5 in 2:43, and then 0.25 in 81. It was not too bad, but there were no miracles either aside from the top of the quads feeling the strain instead of the lower portion.

10.1 in 1:14:41.

Then took Benjamin and Jenny in to the State Cross Country Championship. Benjamin ran 13:17 finishing fourth behind Aiden Troutner (12:08), Joshua Blackburn (12:47), and Lucas Norman (13:02). During the race Benjamin looked like he did not know how to run fast. His stride was long, but his turnover was very low. This should not have been a surprise as we have not done anything fast in the last couple of months due to my foot problems. More than anything, it was my oversight - I got too busy with other things and forgot to pay attention to make sure we were prepared for the meet. But on the other hand, no big deal, it is just a Bantam championship. Just get out and practice racing, who cares where you place at the age of 10.

Jenny ran a decent race finishing 7th in 14:28. Iain Hunter's daughter (I am pretty sure that's who it was, her last name was Hunter and she almost chicked Benjamin) won with 13:23.

Later in the afternoon I was pondering the forward lean matter, and remembered a detail. Some time ago Iain measured Jeff and I at his lab. One of the measurements was standing on the force plate for 2 seconds to determine the weight. But the force plate is a smart gadget. It does not just measure your weight. It gives you XYZ components of the ground reaction force. And I remembered that my X component was quite a bit bigger than Jeff's. Yes, when you stand upright there is a fluctuating X component in the ground reaction force because it is next to impossible to find such a balance that your center of gravity would be in the perfect position.

So I decided to integrate that component, or more precisely the acceleration from it over time. Turned out that over 2 seconds of standing I generated a velocity change of 0.1 m/s. Jeff did only 0.02 m/s. In other words, I had to work with my legs to pull my body forward quite significantly, or else my center of masses would have gone backwards and I would have landed on my rear at the end of those 2 seconds. Which means that my center of gravity when standing up is shifted towards the back with the feet ending up in front of it. I wondered if anybody has ever written anything about how the natural position of the center of gravity would affect running economy and found this article.

I tried the exercise suggested in it for correcting the Upper Cross Syndrome, and I like the feel of it. I also liked that it is easy to remember and do spontaneously during the day. We'll see what happens in a month or two.

P.M. Julia, Joseph, and Sarah ran 0.5 together, then I ran 1 mile with Julia in 7:52. That is her new mile PR. Her splits were 2:04 - 2:00 - 1:55 - 1:53. She was not planning on setting a record, just started out a little quicker, and I was able to talk her into trying to break it. Her previous record was 7:57.

Airwalk Clogs Miles: 11.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
Airwalk Clogs Miles: 59.50
Night Sleep Time: 55.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 55.50
Debt Reduction Calculator
Featured Announcements
Lone Faithfuls
(need a comment):