Breaking the Four-Minute Mile
"When I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning."
BY Mark Schnurman, The Commercial Observer
I possess a childlike exuberance and take special pleasure when individuals achieve the unprecedented. Sixty years ago this month Roger Bannister accomplished such a feat. On May 6th, 1954, Bannister became the first human to run a sub 4-minute Mile. Prior to this moment many in the medical and running communities considered the 4-minute Mile “unconquerable”. So great was the perceived barrier that Bannister stated, somewhat facetiously, “Doctors and scientists said that breaking the 4-minute Mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.”
Runners flirted with the 4-minute Mile for decades, unable to eclipse the mark. But a funny thing happened soon after Bannister’s accomplishment: runner after runner broke the 4-minute Mile. It is now commonplace for elite runners, and even the occasional high school star, to eclipse the mark.
This brings us to the seminal questions: Why was Bannister able to do what no one before him could? And, why could so many do the impossible soon after?
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