Roger’s Lesson: The Four-Minute Mile and Breaking Your Own Mental Barriers

Andrew Wood
4 min readMay 6, 2021

In the spring of 1954, a young medical student at Oxford University entered a shoe shop in Wimbledon, near London. He asked the cobbler to make him a very special pair of running shoes. He wanted them light and strong enough to last just twelve laps. The cobbler provided such a shoe, and the young man improved them further by fitting them with special graphite spikes. This allowed him to achieve better traction because they slipped more easily in and out of the cinder track on which he ran.

As with any successful endeavor, this young man knew preparation and planning were key elements in reaching his goal. They were, however, only partial ingredients in what was later to be known as the “Miracle Mile.” The hardest part of reaching his goal, as indeed it is with many other goals, was conquering the six-inch space between his ears.

When Roger Banister finally broke the four-minute mile on May 6th, 1954, people had been trying to run a mile in under four minutes for almost 2000 years. Since the time of the ancient games at the foot of Mount Olympus, runners had tried to reach that seemingly impossible goal. Athletes ran in the Olympics, in international championships, and around the world; yet no one, even at the highest level with gold medals and world records on the line, had ever run a mile in less than four minutes. Many of the coaches of the day actually believed a successful attempt could well result in the death of the runner. They simply believed the physical limits of human endurance had been reached. If God had wanted man to be faster, he would have given him four legs instead of two.

Everyones Doing It

Despite this fact, within just a few weeks of Banister’s record-breaking run, several others ran a mile in less than four minutes. How is that possible? Did the human race suddenly get faster in the summer of 1954?

No, of course not. The answer is much easier to explain, and it is an answer that will be the first key to living your life to your full potential. The answer, pure and simple, was a mental limitation on the part of the runners. Because no one had ever done it, the world’s greatest athletes either consciously or subconsciously did not believe it could be done. In their…

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Andrew Wood

Author & Marketing Legend with over 50 books :I write on: Marketing, Travel, Sales, Success, Biz, Leadership, Golf, Autos, Books, Events www.AndrewWoodInc.com