The Thought for the Day – Roger Bannister

The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win. – Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister is an English distance runner who will live down the ages as the first man to run the mile in under four minutes, doing so in 1954. Regular readers of ours will recognize today’s Thought as also the quotebook selection in today’s Daily Dose feature. Bannister, a retired doctor, is now 88 and has suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for several years.

Bannister’s record mile came at a time when the sub-four minute mile was clearly in the crosshairs, with several other world-class runners coming close and if Bannister hadn’t done it someone else would have, which is illustrated by the fact Bannister’s new world record only lasted a few weeks.

In making history before someone else did, Bannister gave a clinic in how to succeed in any enterprise, great or small. 

First, he identified what he wanted to do. When he came in fourth place in the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister took a couple of months off to reflect and then decided he wanted to be the first to run the mile in under four minutes. He had the wisdom to know what he was meant to do.

Then he had the courage to go out and do it. He increased the intensity level of his training program, taking himself places he had never been before. He had the patience to stick with his program, even when – especially when – the going got painful.

Through it all, he never lost sight of his goal: running the mile in under four minutes before anybody else did. In May 1953 he ran the mile in 4:03:6, relatively far from his goal, but it was a new British record and convinced Bannister that a sub-four minute mile was doable in general and by him specifically. When the fates presented him the opportunity to be great, Bannister was there to take advantage of the opportunity.

Bannister’s effort still inspires today. It begs us to ask ourselves what we are willing to continue doing once the effort gets painful. When we find what that is, when we look inside ourselves to find what we are meant to do and when we drive ourselves farther than we’ve gone to get there, then we will find ourselves setting our own records.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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