Excerpt from How They Train Vol. 1 on Bannister:
Dr. Roger Gilbert Bannister, Great Britain
Best marks: mile, 3:58.8; 1500m, 3:43.8; 3/4 mile, 2:52.9t; 880, 1:50.7; 660, 1:20.2; 440, 51.0.
Personal statistics: Born March, 1929 in England. 6'2", 154 lbs. Started formal racing in 1946 at age 17 and retired in 1954 at age 25. Training in the fall 1946 at Exeter College, Oxford consisted of running once during the week and racing on Saturday. In the spring, track training was started.
1948 training: Run for 3/4 hour, 3-4 days per week
1949-1950 training: Alternating slow runs of 1 1/4 miles with faster runs of 1/2-3/4 mile, 4 days per week. Lader this was modified along the lines of a fartlek.
1950-1952 training: Stepped up training program in the fall. In the spring trained 5 days a week with interval method.
1951-1952 training: Ran on grass for never longer than 1/2 hour after work, 3-4 days per week. Track training was begun in February.
1952-1953 training: Interval method was used as training was increased. In February and March track training was started, sometimes running as many as 10x440 in 63 seconds with 2-3 minutes rest after each.
1953-1954 training: Starting in December, ran 5 times a week during noon hour. Several days consisted of 10x440 in 66 seconds with a 2 minute rest after each. During the following months they were gradually sped up till by the end of April the average had dropped to 59 seconds per 440. Following are some highlights of Bannister's training 3 weeks before his 3:59.4 world record:
April 12 - 7 x 880 in 2:06
April 14 - 3/4 mile in 3:02
April 15 - 1/2 mile in 1:53.0
April 22 - 10 x 440 in 58.9
April 24 - 3/4 mile in 3:00.0
April 28 - 3/4 mile in 2:59.9
April 30 - 1/2 mile in 1:54.0
[Mile WR on May 6]
Duration of workout: 1 hour 5-6 PM, 3-5 times a week. Raced not more than twice a month. It was his custom to run a 3/4 mile time trial a few days before an important race. He preferred to follow in a race until he unleashed his kick in the final lap.
Bannister gained immportality on May 6, 1954 when he became the first man to crack the much sought after 4-minute mile (3:59.4). Another memorable race came on August 7, 1954 at Vancouver during the British Empire Games when he outkicked John Landy in a personal record, 3:58.8.
He was self-coached throughout his career. Because he kept experimenting with different training and racing methods, Bannister felt that only he could determine what training was best suited for him. However he did have guidance from Franz Stampfl during his final year. Bannister always kept running, which gave him a deep feeling of satisfaction even from his childhood, but never let it affect his academic life. Because of this he never subscribed to the 7-day-a-week training regimen, and rarely trained 5 days a week till the last years of his career.
He was Oxford-Cambridge mile champion 1947-1950. He was also AAA champion in the mile in 1951, 1953, 1954, and half mile in 1952. In 1954 he became the British Empire Games mile and 1500m European champion. He finished 4th in the 1952 Olympic 1500m and was a member of the British 1953 world record 4-mile relay team.