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On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile. That meant he ran 1,760 yards in under 4 minutes. Prior to that date, for thousands of years, people tried to push themselves to run as fast as possible. Experts suggested that the human body had limitations; that we had found the limits of the body and could not expect to achieve a 4 minute mile. Yet, in 1940 the mile record was set and held at 4:01 for nine years until Bannister came along.
Once Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, others began to run under 4 minutes as well. Bannister held the record for only 46 days. Today it is common place for professional runners to run a mile under 4 minutes.
What happened to the expert’s theory of our body’s limitations? So here is what I suggest, since others have survived a high risk and at times a late stage cancer, should we begin to look at their examples of survival as our own possibility? Could we begin to make survival as commonplace as breaking the 4 minute mile?
Bannister experienced what many of us face when we are just about to accomplish something great. He began to question himself and question his desire. After his failure at the 1952 Olympics, Bannister spent two months deciding whether to give up running. If he had acted on his thought of giving up running, we likely could have spent another decade validating the experts’ notion of the body’s limitations.
Bannister dug deep and found in himself certainty that it was possible to break the 4 minute mile. His certainty was developed by observing other runners and their times. Bannister set a goal for himself and envisioned himself achieving this goal. Those who have followed by running a mile under 4 minutes enable themselves to accomplish this goal because they know it have been done. They believe it to be possible for themselves.
Would you agree that the simple act of observing and interacting with long term survivors is worth a try? If you were faced with grim statistics of a cancer diagnosis, would you want to know that someone has overcome the statistics - has outlived their cancer? Would you want to meet those who are surviving?
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