On 6 May 1954 at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, Roger Bannister donned a pair of track spikes and calmed his anxious mind. Bannister, Britain’s representative for the 1,500 metres event at the 1952 Olympics, was no stranger to track races. But what transpired at the Oxford track that fateful day was no ordinary track meet.
Bannister was there to make history as the first person ever to run a mile under four minutes. We all know how it went; he achieved his goal with a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
The Fastest Mile
“My effort was over and I collapsed almost unconscious with an arm on either side of me,” recalled Bannister, “it was only then that the real pain overtook me. I knew I had done it, before I even heard the time.”
To run a successful sub-four mile, each of the four laps must be completed under 60 seconds, keeping a pace of no slower than 2:29 minutes per kilometre.
The Under Armour All Out Mile is one of the shortest virtual races available compared to those organised by other entities. But for what it lacked in distance, the All Out Mile makes up for in terms of intensity and preparatory measures.
A 30-day virtual training program on the MapMyRun app crafted by Under Armour’s elite athletes and coaches. It has all come down to this: four blistering laps around the tartan track.
The Unforgiving Minute(s)
A beep from my watch signalled the start of my All Out Mile. “Run relaxed, smooth and fast.” I visualised Bannister’s sweeping gait and emulated it as best I can.
The first lap was the trickiest. Run too fast and you will burn out too quickly. Too slow and you would be hard-pressed to catch up later in the mile. At that level of intensity, the delicate balance between speed and endurance determined the outcome of your run.
On the second lap, the pace settled. My legs cycled in a whirl of motion while my arms swung in concert. Runners typically term this seemingly effortless rhythm as one’s ‘cruising speed’. At this point, thoughts quieted and my mind reached a state of silence. Apart from the tap tap tap of footfalls, all else fades. My watch chimed and I barely noticed.
Midway into the third lap, the familiar burn of anaerobic metabolites intensified in my legs. The pain exponentially increased within the span of a few seconds and my field of vision narrowed. The heart pounded with such ferocity that I briefly worried about to going into cardiac arrest.
On the final lap, everything hurt. My mind willed my legs to push harder, but the latter failed to respond in kind. All notions of a graceful running form had left my thoughts and I struggled simply to keep one foot in front of the other. I wondered if Bannister agonised as terribly as I did. The last few seconds seemed never-ending.
The finish line appeared in view. I summoned the last vestige of strength and leaped.
Your Fastest Ever
The All Out Mile demands the best from its challengers. Under Armour had provided considerable resources to support runners in this endeavour. But ultimately, the experience of racing an All Out Mile is intimately yours. Challenges such as this are intimidating, but also incredibly fulfilling. With the MapMyRun app, you have an opportunity to run your fastest mile anytime, anywhere.
So did I manage to run a sub-four mile as Bannister did? Unfortunately not, I was nearly two full minutes behind. Nevertheless, the All Out Mile was a memorable experience that broke the monotony of daily routines and gave me a challenging goal to strive for. I hope everyone enjoyed the event and ran their hearts out as I did. Here's to another All Out Mile next year!