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The First Four Minutes by Roger Bannister
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The First Four Minutes (1955)

by Roger Bannister

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Sir Roger Bannister, M.D., no less. He's a neurologist now. The main thing to take away is that you can perform quite well with fairly little training. Bannister thinks that more training will help you recover faster, but will not improve your performance on race day -- assuming you didn't run recently. At least, that's what he wrote in 1955, one year after he broke the four minute barrier:

"Running is more than just slogging and training. Excessive training quickens the rate of recovery, but it has yet to be shown that performance is better on the day of the race."

His point being that professional athletes who spend all their time running and training will not do significantly better than amateurs who train half an hour a day (like he did). His 1994 preface shows his views may have changed, though to what degree I cannot tell:

"But the main reason for the steady improvement lies in the training -- more than two hours each day, often in two sessions, instead of my daily 30 minutes!" ( )
  lipi | Nov 7, 2007 |
Essentially Bannister's autobiography. Runners might be disappointed by the lack of running stories, it's much more about how he balanced training with school. ( )
  Boneillhawk | Jul 29, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 155821027X, Paperback)

Forty-some years after the barrier was broken it's difficult to imagine how daunting a challenge the four-minute mile once was, but for a generation of world-class runners it represented the impossible dream. Roger Bannister, the British middle-distance runner who finally achieved the epic quest in 1954, wrote this stunning memoir of his life as a runner a year later; intelligent, analytical, dramatic, and graceful, it remains a sporting classic. Though two introductions have been added in years since, it's a shame that Bannister, a remarkable man who graduated from Oxford to a distinguished medical career, has never penned a more complete memoir. Still, his achievement as a young man remains one of the pivotal moments in 20th-century sports, and his account of that achievement is as good a glimpse into a runner's race toward greatness as has ever been written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:05 -0400)

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