On March 3d, Roger Bannister passed away. In 1954, he became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, a feat which was instantly recognized as one of the greatest sporting achievements of modern times. Since then, over 1000 athletes have run a sub-4, and the record stands at 3:47, but there is nothing like being the first. It’s hard to imagine what it must have felt like for Bannister – and for the other athletes at that time who were also chasing that goal – to push up against the unknown. There were doctors who insisted that the human body was not meant to push that hard, and that anyone attempting that feat would have their heart explode. Still, to borrow a modern phrase, he persisted.

These days, it’s easy to be jaded about all athletic records. Every time we hear about a new standard being set, we brace for a new round of revelations of doping. But let’s try to suspend out cynicism for a moment and imagine what it was like then to chase this magical goal, to, as Jack London wrote, “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of run.” Just for the sheer joy and challenge of it.

For many of us, Roger Bannister represented more than the attainment of a new record. He represented that striving and almost childlike disregard for caution. He ran the sub-4 because no one convinced him that he couldn’t. We could all use a little of that attitude in our lives. He will be missed.


About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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