The Four Minute Mile | Powerful Women

There was once a barrier known to all runners, male, female, young, old, rich, and poor – it was the barrier of four minutes.

It was believed for many years that the human body was not physically capable to run a mile in less than four minutes. It was a matter of biology. It just wasn’t possible. It was a famous and accepted limit — you could ask anyone of that time, what was the “four-minute barrier”, and they would answer without a pause. It was no use beating yourself over this barrier. Train all you like, read all you like, and recite your power affirmations every morning — that barrier was going to be there at the track when you got there. It was a force of nature, the will of God. It was — fact. Accept it, and move on. You’re wasting your life doing anything else. The best minds all agree. Go home.

We come up against so many barriers in our lives. By the time you are my age, there seems to be nothing but unbreakable barriers. I’ve come up with a whisper I utter, every time one slams down in front of me…

In 1954 Rodger Bannister ran the mile in 3:59.4 proving many medical and sports experts wrong. It could be done. He did it.

What came then into the papers were the same things that come into the papers now. There were cries of excitement, yes. But there were decries of fluck, and mistake and even lies. Some people hold on to barriers, like they are the solid foundations that no flood waters can rise above, or pull you down from.They need them. They are not happy when you break them. Quite the opposite in fact

After that, only two months later, John Landy broke the barrier as well.

Sometimes we have a false vision in our heads of what is possible with our craft, and what is not. A limitation, a barrier, which we understand as being the edge of the world. Not your fault you can’t breath hollow space.That’s just the way things are.Then you look over at the woman next to you, and watch her bend reality. She just walks up to that edge, and keeps walking, and you feel just like Landy did after Bannister showed him the way —  not only can the four-minute barrier be broke, Landy decided he could do it in 3:50. Later that year, after making that goal, he was going for 3:45.

Now, breaking the four-minute barrier is “standard” for male professional middle distance runners.

Barrier breakers are important for us, and there are so many to chose from. As a HeForShe I have an abundace of them to watch. I don’t cheerlead, or get into hero worship. I just watch, knowing any minute she is going to realize, that in primal times she was a god. That what she is facing isn’t even a barrier. Soon, she’ll remember. And I’ve seen it too many times to even question it these days. It’s a standard.
… I whisper, “Every day, someone is doing something, someone else said was impossible. Get out of my way.”


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