The surprisingly simple training of the world’s first sub-4 minute miler, How Roger Bannister prepared for his historic run?

Before Sir Roger Bannister’s historic run in 1954, running fans and experts believed that the sub-four-minute mile was not possible. When he crossed the finish line at the University of Oxford’s Iffley Road track in 3:59.4 66 years ago, he changed the course of running history forever, opening the door for thousands more to follow.

You might be surprised, then, to find out that in order to set this historic record, Bannister only trained for about five hours per week.

Twitter user @jmarpdx recently tweeted an exert from the book How They Train by Fred Wilt, which provides a brief description of Bannister’s training regime leading up to his breakthrough run. According to the book, he started training in December (five months before the race) and only ran for one hour, five days per week during his lunch hour.

His sessions almost always consisted of some form of interval training, including workouts like 10 x 440 yards (400m), 7 x 880 yards (800m) and 3/4 mile (1,200m) time trials.

Of course, today we have a lot more knowledge regarding training protocols, mileage and recovery, but this sample from Bannister’s training is an example of how sometimes, simplicity is the best path forward.

posted Wednesday December 1st
by Brittany Hambleton