These numbers may not mean anything to you just yet but by the end of reading this post I hope you remember them the next time you hit another obstacle on your way. Sir Roger Banister was an athlete and neurologist known to the world for proving that what was believed impossible could be done and repeated again and again.

This impossible fit was to run a mile under four minutes. A lot of qualified professionals believed that it human body was incapable to perform at such level until 1954 Roger Banister completed his run with a world breaking record of 3:59.4.Within 45 days an Australian athlete John Landy beat Roger’s record followed by many others. Banister’s name became a symbol of shuttering commonly accepted limiting beliefs.

How exactly did Banister achieved this this? Despite some sources claiming that Banisters achievement was purely a mental game and positive thinking my research shows that Banister success was a combination of multiple factors. Nature gifted him with physical attributes that predisposed Banister to be a good runner. This genetic lottery win was not the only part of his success recipe. The world of running was was gradually changing as well. Improved training methods that included interval training started to emerge in the 1950s led  to a better athletic performance. 

And of course psychological training. Along his journey Banister encountered Dr. Thomas Kirk Cureton, director of the physical fitness laboratory at the University of Illinois. Cureton helped Banister by introducing full body training practices like rock climbing but also how to apply mental techniques to his training. For instance instead of seeing the mile as a whole distance Cureton suggested to break it down to smaller parts and train for those specifically. 

Banisters success did not end on the race track in fact the man himself saw his academic and medical career as a bigger accomplishment stating that he would give away his 4 mile record for and breakthrough in the field of neurology. This is an example when For his life accomplishments was knighted in 1975.

What can we learn from his example?

  • To succeed in sport or life we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket.  Having a clear goal and obsession with accomplishment is important. 
  • Without discipline and routines even most amazing gifts either genetics or winning a lottery can be a waste.  Knowledge on how to use tools and approach achievement is equally important.
  • Whether its learning tools for your craft or learning how your body works are essential.
  • Take breaks. Despite pushing his body to the limit Banister will stop exercising to recharge. Just before breaking his world record Banister took 5 days of to rest.

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2 thoughts on “3:59.4.”

  1. Perseverance and patience are very important in life as you mentioned, specially in difficult times, specially now. Believing in ourselves and taking external actions to accomplish our dreams are the tools. Obstacles can be opportunities if we see them as something positive, our internal perspective is very important.

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