Dedicated runners recognize the name "Roger Bannister" and know that he made history in 1954 when he ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Although that record wouldn't stand for long (and the current record stands at an incredible 3:43.13 by Morrocan runner Hicham El Guerrouj), most runners will never reach this pinnacle of running.
Consider that running a 4-minute-mile requires you to maintain a run speed of 15 miles per hour... for the entire mile. Even if you've participated in the Boston Marathon, which is known for its tight 3 hour, 05 minute, 00 second qualifying time for men aged 18 to 34, maintaining 15 MPH for 5,280 feet is an accomplishment granted to a select few runners.
In a recent interview with "Runner's World," 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi said:
"My goal for Boston this year was to win and to run under 2:09," he says. "If I'd done that and not won, I would have been celebrating like I had won because it’s something I’d never done. If you run a personal best, whether it’s by 1 second, 10 seconds, 2 minutes, you better celebrate, because they don’t come very often."
Even the gazelle-like winners of internationally renowned marathons don't always put their whole emphasis on winning. They dedicate their training to reaching a better personal time and overcoming their own shortcomings, rather than beating the entire field of participants.
Even if your .VO2max isn't equal to that of a swift marathoner or someone capable of incredible speed on the track and a 4-minute-mile, that doesn't mean your running goals aren't a worthwhile endeavor. Seeing a time of 7:59 per mile on your next 10K race after you once struggled just to finish the 6.2 miles, will feel incredible.
You don't need to run a 4-minute-mile to join the ranks of the accomplished, proud, and fast in the running world. All you need to do is shave a few seconds off your best time. Whether you've got designs on the next Asics LA Marathon, scheduled for March 15, 2015, or you're just trying to get below thirty minutes on your next 5K race, there's always room for improvement in your personal best.
Create a goal this summer to build strength, stamina, and endurance, and reach your running goals in 2014. Run a little harder on that next hill course, ride a few miles extra on that Sunday bike ride, or try to lift 5 more pounds during your gym time this week, and reap the rewards as you blast through your personal best on your next competitive run.
Who knows, perhaps some day you'll cross the finish line in a 4-minute-mile and join the ranks of the best runners in the world.