On the 1st of March this year I declared that I shall set about emulating Roger Bannister’s amazing feat of running a sub four minute mile. My motivation around it was to prove that back then the sporting standards weren’t what they are now and that with a lot of hard work and effort, I as an average guy of moderate athletic ability could achieve this feat within a year.
Legend - Roger Bannister.
I quit drinking, trained daily, read just about everything there was to read about the great man and his training and in so doing found myself in the most incredible shape of my life. The feeling of supreme fitness, strength and confidence to be able to keep pushing my body was an amazing thing. My adventures in physical exertion went so much further than just exercise and mentally stretched me far beyond the usual mental boundaries created over the years.
Becoming a top class runner - get ready for some boring living.
There were drawbacks to this of course, massive social drawbacks. I was pulling the usual full day at the office from 8-6 (sometimes later) then I would come home and train and by the time I had showered and eaten it was clocking 9pm. After a long day and ordering nothing at the bar than lime and soda, the urge to leave the house after that was minimal so this inevitably led to weeks of nothing but work, training and sleep.
All work and no play - fine for Indian children, not so much for me.
That’s the schedule of a champion you may say, but all work and no play makes Johnny a very dull boy or something to that effect. The World Cup football then started and the necessary release was there. Roughly a month later and with the worst of the winter over I resumed training but really took a while to get back to where I was fitness wise. At the age of 28, though not over the hill by any stretch of the imagination, I quickly learned that mile running is a young man’s game and the recovery needed after the strenuous training was lacking for me on some weeks.
Another run? Piss off I'm knackered.
Nevertheless I ploughed on and managed to get into great shape again in order to hit the track and start churning some times out. Then the injuries started. I can’t recall ever pulling a leg muscle in my life, but then the hamstring went. Not torn or anything that severe, but strained to the point where running at any speed is painful and thus rendering me useless.
So I did the resting, the stretching and huge amounts of icing and managed to get through it. But then when I thought I was over it, it just kept going and going and now I have to properly give it a break in order to prevent serious injury. It has been a painful and frustrating last month and has taken me to a point where I am faced with a big decision to make.
Either way both choices start with a months rest – absolutely no running. Then do I go into an intensive 6 months training programme to finish what I started, or do I reflect on what I have learnt, streamline my exercise to just that of aesthetic maintenance and crack a beer and get ready for a long summer of sports viewing?
The answer, well it is of course the latter.
I recently started reading the most amazing book on the subject of mile running – The Perfect Mile. This literary masterpiece outlines the lives of the three men who were challenging to be the first to break the magical four minute mile mark. Page after page you are all consumed in the lives of these extraordinary athletes and everything that they did to be the best. They all led extremely disciplined lives devoted to their goal and this simply isn’t the life for me.
The towel - I'm throwing it in.
So as much as it hurts to throw in the towel, I do so on the back of a very interesting experience which has left me more in awe of professional athletes than ever, and a given me new found understanding for the human body and what is physically possible when you put your mind to it. This won’t be the end of mile postings though, I shall continue writing on the subject and offer practical tips on how to incorporate some of the training into your weekly workouts.
After a month of no running though, I might go a little crazy. It has become such a big part of life for me so perhaps when the leg gets better I might channel all the built up energy into becoming the first white guy to run a sub 10 second 100m .
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