Roger Bannister was considered an ordinary athlete because he took up running as a hobby and trained during his lunch hour.
But in 1954, Bannister surprised everyone with his great feat when he became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes.
Sure it’s a little different than, say, Serena Williams holding the world’s #1 singles tennis champ position for the past 15 years or Pelé’s 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches along with winning three World Cup titles . . . But before Roger Bannister came along, doctors, exercise experts, and physiologists said that it was impossible for the human body to run as fast as he did.
One man with one idea in his head shattered a big limiting belief in one race. Roger Bannister ran one mile in 3 minutes 59 seconds!
Bannister died this year at the age of eighty-eight. Today, we remember him as the trailblazer who “made the impossible possible.”
In the 1940s, the mile record was at 4:01, where it stood for nine years. This means that for all the time before this, hundreds of years, no man or woman broke this elusive barrier. Was it a mental barrier? Was it an emotional barrier or was it physical barrier as the experts suggested?
Have you ever had a mental barrier that seemed impossible to overcome? Have you ever felt like it was physically impossible to go on . . .
Let’s look at how Roger Bannister shocked the world and made everyone revise their beliefs about what’s really possible.
On May 2, 1953, a year before he broke the record, Bannister attempted to break the elusive 4-minute mile, and he failed. He ran the mile in 4 minutes 4 seconds, and here’s what he said after he was unable to break the record: “This race made me realize that the four-minute mile was not out of reach.”
Again, he didn’t quit. He said that NOT achieving his goal strengthened his resolve to be the world’s first 4-minute miler. He kept training and focusing on his goal to prime his brain for success.
Most people do not know this, but Bannister won a scholarship to Oxford and began medical school in 1946. During his lunch hour every day, he paid threepence to get into Paddington Park, near the hospital where he worked, so that he could practice running.
At the time, Bannister was not a naturally talented as a runner; he had an ungainly walk . . . and barely made Oxford University’s third track team. However, on March 22, 1947, he was running as a pacer for members of Oxford’s first team in a mile race against Cambridge.
Instead of stopping, as a pacer was supposed to, he kept on running, not only completing the course but winning by 20 yards with a time of 4:30.
Roger Bannister at Oxford University, Photo: PA
Once Bannister discovered that he enjoyed running and that he was good at it, he practiced, competed, and got better. Seven years later he broke the record.
I knew enough medicine and physiology to know it wasn’t a physical barrier, but it was a psychological barrier . . . As it became clear that somebody was going to be able to do it, I decided that I would prefer it to be me.”
Roger’s way of thinking encourages us to dig deep and rise to our fullest potential. Why not challenge your inner story, examine your habits and assumptions, and release your limiting beliefs and excuses that hold you back from goal achievement?
Roger said the competition and the goal he had of breaking that elusive 4-minute mile barrier caused him to drive on, impelled by a combination of fear and the pride he would feel once he broke the record.
He was able to turn fear into fuel for success. He relentlessly practiced, and he visualized the achievement he was seeking to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body.
Is there something on your mind right now that seems and feels real to you but you still think and feel you cannot do or achieve it? With careful review, you may notice it’s just a psychological mindset issue vs. a real problem . . . and with practice, you can make your dreams a reality.
We’d love to hear from you?
What mental barriers do you want to break through this year so you can achieve your goals? Please share with us in the comments section below.