Thursday, August 8, 2019

V 9 N. 25 An Inside Story on that 1966 Mile World Record at Berkeley

When Jim Ryun broke the World Record in the Mile at Berkeley in 1966 it was a make up meet for the cancelled international dual meets with the Soviet Union and Poland.  We were getting heavily into Viet Nam, though all hell had not yet broken out in the streets of Chicago at the '68 Democratic convention.  I didn't get to see the race as I was living at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1966.  Fortunately our blog has been in contact with one of the runners in that race, Ricardo Romo, the University of Texas miler and long time record holder at that Austin institution.  After reading Walt Murphy's blog about that race, I decided to get Ricardo's views of that afternoon on that hard cinder track.  Where was he in his career?  How did he contribute to that race?  What does he remember specifically?  Maybe this account will bring up some more questions.  Ricardo has been kind to write this piece for us and we thank him for taking that time.  Here it is.!

Memories of a Sub-Four Minute Miler
Ricardo Romo

     Today, fifty-three years ago--amost to the day-- I
became the first Texan to run a mile under four minutes.
What I didn't know at the time was that only 18 Americans
had ever accomplished that feat.  I have been asked many times about writing about that achievement and up to now, 
I had not given it much thought.  Then I realized that I 
spent thousands of hours training to excel in an event that 
took me less than four minutes to complete.  Was it worth 
such an expenditure of time and effort?  And would I
recommend others to try it?  Yes--here is my story.

     In 1960, at age 16, (when everyone called me 
Richard)  I finished 5th in the state track competition with 
a 4:30 mile time, a respectable time for a 10th grader.  By
my senior year in high school I had improved my time
significantly.  My 4:10 mile was one of the fastest ever by
a U.S. high school runner.

     Three state championships earned me a track
scholarship at the University of Texas Austin.  UT Austin
had great academic programs and one of the finest track
programs in the nation.  I started college with three goals.
To run a su-four minute mile; to graduated from The
University of Texas; and to earn All-American honors in 
Track and Field.

     At UT Austin  I was fortunate to have Pat Clohessy, a 
former runner at the University of Houston and U.S. 
champion in the 5,000 meters.  Clohessy came to UT to
earn his Masters' degree and was offered a graduate
assistantship in the track program.  He served as my
distance coach and mentor.  Clohessy trained with us
daily throught my freshman and sophomore year and 
his mentoring paid off.  In the summer of 1963 I improved
my mile time to 4:05 in a track meet in Portsmouth, England.
I came in second but defeated two of England's top
Olympic runners.  It was the fastest mile time for a
freshman in the United States.  I was on my way.
Romo (4:05.0)   between John Whetton ( 4:05.1) ( and Bill McKim (4:04.9) in that race in Portsmouth

     A serious track injuryin an indoor track meet in Fort
Worth in February of 1965 nearly ruined my track 
ambitions.  As I started the 1,000 yard run, I felt a sharp 
pain in my left ankle.  We were running indoors on a dirt 
track and thus everyone used regular long spikes.  A spike
from the runner behind me caught my ankle and severed
my tendon.  I felt the pain, but since I was in the lead, I
decided to finish the race.

     I crossed the finish line in first place, but I left blood
dripping from the back of my shin.  It was a serious injury
and it required three months to cure the infection in my 
leg related to the dirt field.  My surgery went well and after
four months I resurmed my training--albeit quite slowly.  I 
was not certain if the injury would hamper my full
development as a premiere runner.  By December I was 
back in top shape.  I had lost the 1965 track season, but 
felt lucky to be competing again.

     My preparation for a sub-four minute mile required
superb conditioning and being at the right track meet at
the right time.  I was living in Texas, but in the 1960s our
state shut down most of its competitive track meets over
the summer.  Everyone agreed that California offered the 
best opportunity for competitive meets on a weekly basis
and possibilities for fast times.

     In the summer of 1966, I spent the summer in 
California with the expressed goal of running a sub-four
minute mile.  Two friends made the transition to running in
California possible for me.  First Gene Comroe, a UCLA 
trackman who hailed from Dallas and competed in the 
same Texas state and regional high school meets with me
assisted by providing aspare bedroom for me over that 
summer.  Comroe was a member of the Southern
California Striders, a track club that included the UCLA 
middle distance star, Bob Day.  Day was a su-four 
minute miler and a world class runner at 800 meters.

     Comroe and Day introduced me to Atis "Pete" 
Peterson, the Striders' distance coach.  Peterson's famous
motto was "Run for Fun, " and many of our workouts over
the summer of 1966 were exactly that.  Peterson trained 
Bob Day and Ted Nelson, a former Canadian middle
distance star and the American indoor record holder for
1,000 yards.  Not long after meeting Nelson, he and I both
decided that we would add extra speed training to our
practice to prepare us for a su-four minute mile.

     Two events prepared me personally for my sub-four
minute mile in 1966.  While it has been more than 50 years
ago, I remember the events quite clearly.  In June of 1966
I competed in the Santa Monica Invitational meet which
featured Cary Weisiger, a former Duke star miler with a
best time of 3:56.6.  I ran well that day and beat Weisiger
by more than ten yards.  I knew then that my training was 
paying off.

     On July 17, 1966 I had my second opportunity to 
assess my readiness for a sub-four minute mile.  I had
been invited to the Berkeley Invitational where I learned
that Jim Ryun would attempt to break the world record of
3:53.6 set by Michel Jazy in 1965.  I had competed against 
Jim Ryun numerous times, defeating him once in May of
1964.  Two months later, he improved his time and
finished third in the U.S. Olympic trials, which earned him
a trip to the Olympics in Tokyo.

     On the day before the Berkeley race, several of us, including Tom Von Ruden, Wade Bell, and Cary Weisiger were approached
by one of Ryun's close track associates about helping Ryun set
a world record.  for this article, I will call Jim's friend Dick.  Ryun
was a friend and I had competed with him the previous two
years.  I finished ahead  of him in an invitational meet in Houston
in May of 1964.

     Dick asked us to be rabbits for Ryun.  My initial plans were to 
run close toRyun for the first three-quarters and perhaps run
under four minutes.  It was a good plan, but we were convinced that sacrificing a chance for our best times might provide more important track history.  Ryun had set his goal of being the first American in 38 years to hold the world record in the mile.  Dick made a passionate plea that if Ryun succeeded, the American flage would fly proudly across the globe.

     Von Ruden, Wade and I agreed and formulated our running plan.  Ryun wanted a 58.0 first quarter and Von Ruden delivered with a 57.7 quarter.  I took over with a goal of running a 1:56 first half.   I felt comfortable and got to the half mile in 1:55.5.  It was a bit fast, but the first quarter had also been fast.  I remember that the crowd stared cheering when the half time was announced.  They knew that Ryun had a shot at a 3:50 mile.  
Weisiger, Ryun, Romo on the backstretch of the second lap.

     Wade Bell took over from me and led Ryun to 2:55.3 at the third quarter, definitely on world record pace.  Ryun always had a great kick and everyone expected that he would run 57 flat or better in the last quarter.  He did indeed and his 55.0 seconds last quarter brought him to the finish line in a world record 3:51.3.  Ryun had broken the world record by more than two seconds, a highly improbable feat.  The two other rabbits stayed in the race as I did.  Often the rabbits drop off--exhausted by the faster than usual pace.  Von Ruden clocked 4:11.1 and Wade finished in 4:19.3.

Berkeley Mile 1966   Click Here

Unfortunately this is very limited to the start and last 330.

Kansas Relays Program
Progrm implies that Romo got his 3:58.8 at Texas Relays but it was
at the meet in the San Fernando Valley described below.

     I was exhausted at the three quarters mark, but 
decided to hang on and, as a consequence I finished third
in the race.  Ilearned soon that I had managed a highly
respectable time of 4:01.4, one of my fastest times ever.
Weisiger, who paced himself carefully, finished second 
with a 3:58.0 effort.  It occured to me minutes after
finishing that if Weisiger, whom I had beaten two weeks
earlier, could run a 3:58  mile, so could I.

     Great distance runners build up their endurance and
speed over many years.  Every world record holder has
done it differently.  Roger Bannister trained religiously, but
did so while studying for a medical career.  Herb Elliott
trained three or more times a day and seemed to live only 
for setting world records.  When Ryun set the eworld record
he was a 20 years old college student and the youngest 
ever to be a world record holder in the middle distance.

     After the Berkeley mile I returned to Los Angeles to 
continue my training.  Bob Day, a 3:56 miler often joined 
me and other runners for afternoon and weekend runs.  
Pete Peterson thought I was ready for a sub-four effort
and selected an invitational meet in the San Fernando
Valley for me to compete in August.

     On the day of the race, I took the day off from my job
at the Century Plaz Hotel.  To pay my billss I was busing 
dishes and washing drink glasses.  That summer the job
market was tight and I felt lucky to find work that did not
interfere with my training.  I rested all day and left two
hours early for the track meet.

     Ted Nelson and I agreed that we would push each 
other torun an even pace of 60 seconds per quarter.  We
were both excellent kickers and felt confident that we 
could finish the last quarter under 60 seconds.  All went as
planned.  We were dead even with 300 yards to go when I 
began to accelerate.  My time of 3:58.8 was more than I had expected.  Nelson finished ten yards back with an 
excellent 3:59.5 effort.

Finishing his first sub 4 minute mile and with Pete Peterson and Ted Nelson after the race.
     Important and memorable accomplishments are often
done with the help of others--in some cases many 
individuals.  Over many years I trained with other 
teammates and received excellent advice on how to
prepare.   I quickly learned that distance running also
requires discipline and over the yeears I learned to push
myself while setting reasonalbe expectations.

     For me, all that training paid off on a cool August 
evening whn I became the 18th American to run a 
sub-four minute mile.  While I thought I might have run 
faster, I was humbled to know that my 3:58.8 was the 
7th fastest ever by an American and surpassed the best of any 
Texas or South American runner.  My friends often remind
me that my mile time also made me the first Texan and 
first Hispanic to run a sub-four minute mile.

     My record stood for 40 years and I was pleased that 
when it was broken, it was by a fine UT Longhorn runner
by the name of Leonel Manzano.   Manzano broke my
recordd by less than two seconds, but went on that year 
to win a silver medal in the Olympics.

For more on Ricardo Romo see the post we did on him with more autobiographical material from several years back.
Ricardo Romo, An Inspiring Story  Clik Here

Comments on this posting from various sources have added some interesting information and corrected some errors.

First this from Tom Trumpler

Hi George,

Interesting recollections from Romo on his contribution to T&F history by being in the race when young Jim Ryun set the mile world record at Berkeley in 1966.
(Interesting, too, that Buck, i.e., John Bork, made a similar contribution by running in the 880 race when Peter Snell set the then world record on a Christchurch grass track in New Zealand in 1962!)

More interesting was Romo's quest and personal victory to finally run a sub-four minute mile (how many times have all of as young runners imagined one day breaking the tape at 3:59 or better!).

Ricardo describes his triumphal run where he and Ted Nelson push each other to the sub-four glory land as being at an "invitational" in the San Fernando Valley. This select "invitational" invited everyone to the starting line, as it actually was an all-comers meet at either Pierce College or Birmingham High School.

The L.A. City schools sponsored a great series of all-comers meets in the 1960s. Monday night was at Gardena High School. Tuesday night was at Venice High School (fondly remembered as that is where I ran my first track race - a two mile run in heavy rubber tennis shoes, and also for the excitement of these meets -- we were able to sit alongside the edge of the broad jump pit and watch Ralph Boston (then Olympic champion and world record holder) land in the sand before us!!!!)  Wednesday and Thursday were either at Pierce College or Birmingham. Mike Larrabee, a double gold medalist (400, 4x400) in the 1964 Olympics, was a regular at the 440 at Pierce, with other L.A. Striders!

Back to Romo's San Fernando Valley Invitational -- the race was run on August 10, 1966, a Wednesday night, in Woodland Hills (Pierce College all-comers meet). How exciting was that for local runners to be on the track chasing Romo and Nelson or watching from the infield as TWO runners broke the then still elusive four-minute barrier! Romo and Nelson were the 19th and 20th Americans to go sub-four.

1966 -- American Runners Breaking Four Minutes in the Mile
16. Roscoe Divine (Oregon) 3:59.1 (2nd place) Eugene June 02
17. Wade Bell (Oregon)3:59.8* (3rd place) Eugene June 02
18. Tim Danielson (California HS) 3:59.4* (4th place) San Diego June 11
19. Richard Romo (unattached) 3:58.8* (1st place) Woodland Hills August 10
20. Ted Nelson (SoCal Striders) 3:59.4* (2nd place) Woodland Hills August 10

And a second letter from Tom Trumpler

Yes, feel free to post my e-mail about the summer all-comers meets. These meets (Gardena H.S. on Monday, Venice H.S. on Tuesday, Pierce College on Wednesday, Birmingham H.S. on Thursday) were held every week during the summer - a great experience for high school or seasoned track athletes. 

George, you may also consider posting Ken Gerry's e-mail ("I'll never forget that race." "As a 15 year old, I just sat there in awe.") about having witnessed Romo and Nelson go sub-four. Ken's comment shows how exciting these meets were to all the high-school age kids. Ken now is a 68-year old who can probably still vividly re-play that race in his mind. (George, note that Ken became an exceptional miler himself, 4:13 at the Univ of Arizona, and may have been partly inspired by witnessing the Romo and Nelson all-comers race.)
- Tom

Here is Ken Gerry's note.   Ken witnessed the race Ricardo's sub 4.

I’ll never forget that race. I was in the stands at Pierce College watching after having run the 2.6 mile cross country race. My track coach at Camarillo High School, Jack McEwen, upon hearing over the PA loudspeakers, about the sub 4 attempt, said, “Phooey, this won’t happen!”
As a 15 year old, I just sat there in awe.  Not one, but two milers under 4:00 !!
Ken Gerry

This came from Tim Johnston and Mel Watman describing an error in the photo of Ricardo running in England.  We misidentified the winner Bill McKIim and the place Portsmouth.  Tim with help of Mel Watman put us back on the right track.  As many know, Tim was 8th at the '68 Mexico Olympic Marathon in 2hr 28+ and is the co-author with Donald Macgregor of the book  "Otto Peltzer, His Own Man".

1:13 PM (6 hours ago)
George - just to put the record straight.



Dear Mel,

Sad news about Basil. I first read it in George Brose's blog, 'Once Upon a Time in the Vest', which you are probably familiar. I attach a subsequent issue featuring Richard Romo, who spent the summer of 1963 running with my club, Portsmouth.

As you will see there is a picture of Richard winning the mile at the Welsh Games from John Whetton and 'Alan Simpson'. Clearly, that's not Simmy. Any idea who it might be?

Hope all is well with you.

       Tim J 

Dear Tim

Yes, so sad that Basil Heatley has passed on. What a wonderful career he had.

That photo was not taken at the Welsh Games. Having trawled through AW for 1963 I can tell you the meeting was AAA v British Universities v Combined Services at Portsmouth and it was Bill McKim who won in a pb of 4:04.9 ahead of Richard Romo 4:05.0 and John Whetton (pb 4:05.1). That’s Bruce a distant 4th in 4:07.1 after leading through 60.8, 2:04.8 and 3:06.5.

Hope you are thriving.

Best wishes


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

V9 N. 24 Basil Heatley, Marathon Former WR Holder and Olympic Silver

  This from the IAAF website

The IAAF is deeply saddened to hear that Britain’s Basil Heatley, the 1964 Olympic marathon silver medallist and former world record-holder for the distance, died on Saturday (3) at the age of 85.
Born on Christmas Day in 1933, Heatley was a promising youngster and earned podium finishes at the national level as a youth and junior at cross country. He made his marathon debut in 1956 and reduced his PB to 2:23:01 one year later, but didn’t run the distance again for six years.
Between 1957 and 1964 he made seven appearances at the International Cross Country Championships, the forerunner to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. He won the individual senior men’s title in 1961, improving on his silver medal from four years prior.
Basil Heatley in one of his many shining moments
on the podium at Tokyo
Later in 1961 he clocked 47:47 for 10 miles, setting what was the 100th ratified world record by a British athlete. After returning to the marathon in 1963, he set a world best of 2:13:55 in June 1964, marking him as a medal favourite ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo later that year.
There was no stopping defending champion Abebe Bikila in Tokyo, though. Just weeks after having his appendix removed, the Ethiopian retained his title and set a world record of 2:12:11. In the race for the silver medal, Heatley passed Japan’s Kokichi Tsuburaya with just 110 metres to go inside the Olympic stadium and took the silver medal in 2:16:19.
Heatley retired at the end of 1964 but went on to work as a team manager for the national athletics team.

I remember first hearing of Basil Heatley with his 47:47 World Record at Ten Miles.  An easy time to remember.
Our friend Bruce Kritzler has the following memory of Mr. Heatley.
Went to Puerto Rico in 1979 for San Blas Half Marathon. Basil Heatly was team manager for the English runners. Very laid back guy, told me which bed I could use in the dormitory type set up. Also showed me where I could get free meals, as the only US athlete currently in town.
Hooked up with couple of Indiana U./Puerto Rican athletes (Jamie Velez ?) and drank a couple bottles of Pink Champale the night before the race. Had a great race (around 30th) beat Samson Kimombwa (WSU) and nearly caught Lasse Viren at end.
Great trip,


George: Saw your coverage of Heatley. He was one of the best interviews I ever had. Long article on racingpast. I was there—actually jogging around in the mid-field—for his 47:47 WR. I shouted myself coarse cheering him on. Last year, Japan public tv asked for my help to contact him as they were making a film for the 2020 OG and wanted to recapture his amazing silver in 1964—at the expense of a Japanese.  He was a great CC runner too; saw him win the British Nationals at Parliament Hills.  John Cobley
Clik here for John's interview with Heatley   Basil Heatley

Note:  This is the day after the shootings in El Paso and my hometown of Dayton, Ohio.  I've been working on another piece, but really couldn't devote the energy at the moment to put it onto the blog.  Then the news of Basil Heatley came in, and seeing how it was about a runner of our time, I purloined  the IAAF posting and placed it on our blog as well.  Too many good times, good music, questionable food, and fun with friends and family were spent in the Oregon District of Dayton over the years to not be stunned by that event.  For almost three years we lived less than a quarter mile from the shooting site.  I often walked through that area to go to the library, or get a hamburger at Wimpy's, or look for bargains at the Goodwill Store, or laugh at comedians at Wiley's Comedy Club.  A friend just sent a picture of David Dawg Grisman playing at the Trolley Stop with Red Allen and the Allen Brothers across the street from where the shooting took place.  How I miss those days.  People did dastardly things back then too, but not to the extent we do today.  I won't editoralize on my feelings about guns, gun control, mental health and other contributing factors other than to say we are long overdue to show some resolve to find viable solutions to those problems.  As a mediator for the past 25 years, I've learned that public spoutings accomplish very little.  But when both sides of an issue can sit down together in private and listen to each other, sometimes they can find middle ground where they can work together.  George
Dawg Grisman and Red Allen on the right with Red's sons at
the Trolley Stop about 1982

Saturday, July 27, 2019

V 9 N.23 Ever Wonder How a Sub 4 Minute Miler Would Perform on a Bike in the Tour de France?

Image result for mike woods former miler

A thirty-two years old Ottawa, Ontario  Canadian, Mike Woods, once ran a 3:57.48 mile when he was 18 years old and attending the University of Michigan.  He was a teammate of  Nick Willis during their Ann Arbor days.  Unfortunately Woods ran into some chronic stress fractures in his foot and had to abandon the sport.  While he was making that decision he would cycle to maintain some of his fitness and found later that he could compete with the good amateurs in that sport.  Now fourteen years later Woods finds himself a pro riding  in his first Tour de France.   At his age, he is pushing the age limits for that level of the sport.   He gained experience in the grand tours last year in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta d'Espanga. 

As a 70 years plus former runner and a hobby road cyclist, I've often wondered what it would be like for a really good runner to compete in one of the grand tours where strength and endurance are only half the prerequisites.  Technical ability on the bike is equally as important, and courage in the face of fear and horrendous crashes are the other aspects that a track or road runner seldom if ever faces.  The main critical injuries in running come from people wearing ear buds listening to music or motivational talks who get hit by cars, trains and buses, deservedly, I might add.  But descending at 50-60 mph on a twisting downhill in a pack of riders and then climbing 6000 feet backup a mountain, before another descent and climb, make cycling a very different sport. 

Mike Woods has done extremely well as an older rookie, despite two major crashes, one of which broke a couple of ribs and left patches of his DNA smeared on the asphalt.  Two days ago he was in the top ten of the climber category although he is no longer there.   The tour credits participants in a number of ways including the overall leader, but it also rewards, the best climber, most aggressive, best young (under 25) and best general classification for finishing high in a lot of stages.   This year  the youngest rider Egan Bernal of Columbia is wearing the yellow jersey signifying leader in total time on the Tour.   Woods is currently 32nd of 155 riders still in the race with one day to go.    The experts pretty much have conceded the win to Bernal.

You can read an in depth interview with Woods from Runner's World which goes into more specific detail on how having been  a sub 4 minute miler aids his becoming a very good cyclist.  Thanks to Bruce Kritzler for bringing this story to our attention.

Runner's World Interview with Mike Woods

George Roy Steve

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

V 9 N. 22 A Canadian Gathering of 1500 Meters Runners

July 22, 2019

Last week,  Canada's first sub 4 minute miler,  David Bailey, sent us a note about an annual gathering of 1500m/milers to have a go at the 1500m distance.

Hi George,

I thought that you might enjoy hearing about our 11th annual 1500 m Night about a month ago at the Western University track. (University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario)
It was another perfect evening for racing with lots of PBs.
This year 399 runners completed the event with races starting at 7 - 10 min intervals between 6:40 and 10:26 pm.
As usual, there was a team of officials at the start and finish to make certain every race went precisely on time.
I was responsible for check-in (see attached photo).

In preparation for this night, I was also asked by the meet director, Steve Weiler, to write a blog for “How They Trained”.

All of this can be found on a recently created website indicated below.

All the best,
David Bailey, checking them in.
The following was printed on the website and used with permission from David Bailey.
My Successful Mile / 1500m Races During the Summer of 1967
By David Bailey
On June 11, 1966, I met one of my career goals of running a sub 4-minute mile (3:59.1).  I was the first Canadian and 74th person since Roger Bannister to do it (see photo).  The Canadian media had high expectations that I would run faster and medal at the Commonwealth Games later that summer.  It did not happen.  In fact, results were subsequently disappointing. 
I needed to be tactically improved and physically stronger in order to be more competitive at the international level.   A major shortcoming was my insufficient basic speed and acceleration to mount much of a real challenge over the final 200m compared to most of the superior class of opponents against whom I would now be racing.  Yet, greats of the mile/1500 like Herb Elliott and 880/800 like Peter Snell were also not blessed with exceptional sprinting speed.  Despite this, they became Olympic Champions and World Record Holders.  Their strong-willed attitude, sound racing strategies and correct training methods meant that they could apply their resolve on the field at any time in the race.  Their competitors were either too far back or too fatigued to have a finishing sprint of any consequence.    
The summer of 1967 was the most successful of my athletic career.  It started at the end of May and concluded in mid-September.  The chronological sequence of races was the California Relays Meet in Modesto (1st in mile – 4:01), Canadian Pan American Games Trials in Saskatoon (1st in 1500m – 3:45) and Canada Day - East York Track Club Meetin Toronto (1st in mile – 4:01 against the 1964 Olympic 800 m silver medalist and good friend Bill Crothers on a rain-soaked cinder track).  This was followed by the Commonwealth vs USA Meet in Los Angeles.  I must admit that I was surprised to be selected with Kip Keino (Kenya) and Alan Simpson (Great Britain) to compete against the first three finishers at the USA Championships.  Despite 38 degrees Centigrade at track level, Jim Ryun of the USA had career defining run (3:33.1 to break Herb Elliott’s seven-year-old World Record by more than 2 seconds).  I got a new National Record (4th in 1500m – 3:41.7 and defeated the Americans, Jim Grelle and Dave Wilborn, see photo).  I won the mile at the Toronto Police Games (3:57.7 after a full day of competition on the cinder track of Varsity Stadium).  It was a new National Record that lasted for 10 years and was the 9th fastest time in the world for 1967.  Other races included the Pan American Games in Winnipeg (3rd in 1500 m – 3:44 after a 65 second first 400 m when I then took the lead and forced Tom Von Ruden of the USA to break the Games Record in order to win),  the World University Games in Tokyo (2nd in 1500 m – 3:43 that was 0.1 seconds behind the European Champion Bodo Tummler of Germany for his new Games Record) and the Pre-Olympic Games in Mexico City (4th in 1500 m – 3:48 at 2500m or 1.5 miles altitude). 
I was originally asked to write just about my training 4 – 5 weeks before a major breakthrough run.  I have tried to do it.   However, the overall success of 1967 was the result of more than 9 months of planning.  This involved altering my mental approach and physical training to maximize my strengths.  Thus, I thought that I would provide a more in-depth and hopefully enlightening blog.
My Psychological Approach to Racing
Good training alone does not guarantee good racing results.  The proper mindset is essential.  Because I had a burning desire to do well, I usually had lots of anxiety a couple of days before the race.  It would often take me several days to prepare mentally.  By then, I had tried to channel much of this nervous energy to a focus of intense concentration.  The many triumphs of teammates like Bill Crothers and Bruce Kidd (Commonwealth Games 6-mile gold medalist at 18 years of age) also provided me with role models so that I might be able to rise to the occasion when it mattered. 
However, there were times when I still had self-doubts right up to race.  I recall desperately hoping that I would make the 1967 Pan American Team at the Canadian Trials even while warming up for the final.  The thought occurred to me that everyone else in the race had the same ambition.  None of them were just going to give it to me uncontested.  I would simply have to take it away from them because I wanted it more.  With 500 m to go in the race, I took control and ran away from the field with a 56 second last 400m to win.
There were other times during warm up when I had to talk myself.  I would non-verbalize, “I can win this.”  Invariably, a little voice in my head would initially reply, “No you can’t”.  So, I would repeat this mantra in my head for about a half hour.  By then, I was totally convinced that I would be unbeatable. 
The great Canadian coach Lloyd Percival once commented to me that I worried too much about where I would finish in the race before it was run.  I lacked a clear tactical plan beforehand.  Also, I needed to be able to alter it as needed as the race progressed.  He said, “Don’t worry about your placing beforehand, the best result will come with a solid effort along with a well thought out run.”.  He was right.  It seems obvious to me now.  However, I was unaware of this problem at the time.  Thereafter, I became more engaged by watching my race develop in order to decide when would be the right moment to challenge for control.   The underlying basis was to test my opponents when they were having self-doubts or a bad spell.  At this point in the race, I figured that I would have a greater chance to defeat them. 
The mile/1500 can be divided into 3 important sections.   The first two laps are often run quickly when racers are high on adrenaline.  Challenging your competitors during this period when they feel good is wasted effort in my opinion.  The third lap is the most important.  It is always the slowest and there is good reason for it.   This is when the race begins to hurt and there is still a sizeable distance yet to be run.  There is uncertainty whether this fast pace can be sustained.  Thus, the pace inevitably slows as runners begin to conserve energy for the finish.  Your opponents are now at their most vulnerable.  They will let you take control of the race without much of a contest.  A decisive move at some point during the 3rd 440/400 can put distance between you and them.  The problem is that you are also having the same physical distress and anxiety.  However, you have the advantage of surprise and have prepared yourself for this moment.
The purpose of this move is not just to lead but to create a gap.  It now needs to be maintained and possibly lengthened.   There may still be opponents who will give chase.  After a brief breather, you now need to start a continued gradual acceleration that is sustained to the finish when you are going as fast as possible.  It is very discouraging for the chasers when they cannot close the gap.  I have done it with success and had it done to me.  The results of the race can be decided at that moment with a decisive attack between 800m to 500m remaining in the race.
Sometimes, I still did not win.  However, I invariably ended up with a better overall placing than I would have had otherwise.  Moreover, I felt good about my run which was the most important thing to me.  I had tested my competitors resolve to win.  They “knew I was there” and that I “made them sweat” before they could claim victory. 
My Training Plan
The mile / 1500m is a combination of 50% aerobic and 50% anaerobic fitness.  The former is slow to develop, can be markedly increased and slow to lose while the latter is the converse.  Therefore, aerobic strength training was my early focus.  Starting in late September of 1966, I ran 3-4 cross-country meets for the University of Toronto and had wins that involved the CIAU (CIS) Championship.  During that period of time, I included a long run (1:45 – 2:00 hours) weekly at any pace that felt comfortable.  I also did this throughout the year whenever possible.  I avoided running on hard surfaces to minimize risk of injury.  I had the good fortune to live close to three almost interconnecting golf courses which had challenging hills that I often ran without much concern from most golfers, something I don’t think would happen very often these days.  I also sought out parks and dirt paths through forested areas even though getting there involved travelling some distance.
The cross-country results set me up for a limited but good indoor racing season following some interval training.  Winning the Toronto Maple Leaf Indoor Games (mile – 4:03) and finishing 2nd at the Milrose Games in New York City’s Madison Square Garden (Wanamaker Mile – 4:02) in the winter of 1967 on 11 laps to the mile banked wooden tracks proved that I was headed in the right direction.
A key workout after the indoor season was hill running starting in late March.  I adapted this aspect to how I would race.  I tended not to run steep and short hills for short duration power but ran a long (about 600 m) gradual grade hill that allowed me to stride out for speed endurance (stamina) fitness.  This hill was through a scenic wooded area on a paved road, which gave good traction.  It was a 20- to 30-minute jog from my home and I ran it once a week for 4 – 6 weeks before returning to interval training.  I would do hill repeats at a quick pace concentrating on relaxed movement until I got tired but not exhausted.  I did at least 10 per session.  Then, I warmed down by jogging home usually with my thighs feeling quite heavy. 
Following completion of third year exams in Pharmacy in early April, I now had the opportunity to include a daily morning run of 30 – 40 minutes.  It was an easy way to add aerobic fitness and to recover from the soreness and fatigue of the harder evening sessions.  I did this at 6:30 am before heading off to my 8:30 am – 4:30 pm summer job (non – manual labour) which paid for university tuition and living expenses (FYI, I had turned down all athletic scholarship offers at several prominent universities in the USA).  I then had supper, took a nap and prepared for my mid- to late-evening workout.  
This schedule meant that I designed my own workouts and trained alone.  It was challenging but I enjoyed being in control.  I avoided running on a track as much as possible to keep this experience fresh.  Instead, I found parks and other esthetically pleasing places to do speed play (fartlek). 
For track workouts, I would park my car a 20- to 30-minutes jog away, carry my spikes and spend as little time there as possible.  I ran concentrating on speed and relaxation to eliminate tension.   I minimized the number of intervals which were usually not timed.  However, they were demanding and simulated the way I would race.
An important early season session was 3 x 800m at race pace (equal distance recovery jog).  Putting two 400m back to back adapted me better to the race circumstance than doing something like 10 x 400m could ever do.  It took less than 20 minutes and also was much less boring.  However, each 800m subsequently got much harder because I suspect that they were around 2:00 minutes.   This workout was sufficiently demanding that I would not do it again for at a least week.  However, this conditioned me mentally and physically for the kind of race that I would run.  I did not do the 3 X 800 m workout after I got into the regular racing schedule. 
I planned races on a two-week cycle.  Starting with Saturday as the race day, Sunday was always a 1-hour easy run recovery day. Then, Monday to the Tuesday of the next week (9 days) would be solid training.  Total distance run was about 165 km (130 km/wk).  Wednesday to Friday (3 days) was for being fresh for the race on Saturday.  This is when I would focus on my mental preparation. I would continue with my usual morning run.  In the evening, I would do a 20-minute jog followed by a dozen strides on grass to bring back quickness.  
The Tuesday before the race I liked to do a race simulation workout on the track.  The Tuesday before I ran my 3:57.7 mile, I remember doing 1 x 800, 1 x 600, 1 x 400, 1 x 200, 1 x 100 with equal distance recovery.  Each interval got faster.  None were timed.  I focused on quick and relaxed running.  When I did the 800m and 600m, I would yell out “ding, ding, ding” with 400m to go!
I used a race warm up routine that involved a 15-minute jog followed by a warm shower about 4 hours before the race.  It required less time to warm up at the track and took away tightness before the race.

These are just some thoughts on how I improved my performances for the mile / 1500m, distances that are demanding because they require emphasis on both speed and endurance.  I hope that you found this to be informative and interesting.  I wish

Exhausted. But it was worth it. Dave Bailey (right) literally is carried by Bill Crothers after Bailey ran mile in 3 minutes, 57.7 seconds at Police Games at Varsity Stadium. It was first sub-4-minute mile run in Canada by Canadian.

Reply #1
This was a reply David Bailey gave to one of the enduranceodyssey readers. 
Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I also enjoyed reading your blog.

Anyways, I just want to clarify that I did do workouts on the track. I just tried to 
minimize thembecause early in my career that is where I would be doing my workouts
 on a regularly basis. With time, I found that it sapped from me the joy that I inherently 
had for running, something that I consider to be an expression of self. 

I think it might be helpful if I were also to try to explain more completely why 
I did not time the intervals that I ran. One reason was that in my day it was not possible
 to do it when training alone. Back then, all stopwatches were mechanical and had to
 be held steady to be accurate. Today, there are all kinds digital devises that can
 time and record everything. 

A fundamental reason for me was that timing intervals became an unwanted mental 
distraction. Ihad, and I think most experienced runners have, an internal clock that
 is amazingly accurate.   Dividing my attention to a pre-set time was a waste of
 me   ntal processing and I think limited me to what I might be able to do on any
 particular day. Moreover, I just seemed to be able ‘to dial innately to the pace that I 
wanted’ without needing a stopwatch. 

A more important concern was running efficiently with speed. This meant constantly 
mentally checking for the develop of tension and strain in movement, which will 
cause diminished speed despite all efforts to push harder, particularly when you start
 to fatigue. Once it occurs it is almost impossible to reverse. The key is prevention. 

Tension usually begins in the hands and spreads up the arms as it gets worse. 
Once your shoulders are affected, you are “carrying a piano”. Keeping the hands 
and relaxed is critical. Putting the tips of your index finger and thumb together can
 be very helpful. 

When you see a great performance, it looks easy. However, this is deceptive.
Internally, there is a constant battle to maintain form when mentally and physically 
things are falling apart. 

Regarding the location of my 600 m hill that I used to run, it was a service road 
between what was then York Downs Golf Course (which I believe is now a park)
 and Don Valley Golf Course. I had a quick look on Google Maps (satellite view) in
 the area of Bathurst and Sheppard Avenues and I think that it is still there secluded 
among the trees that line it. If you find Sandringham Drive (off Bathurst and south 
of Sheppard), follow it for 2 blocks east to this un-named service road that winds 
down to Earl Bales Lake. 

Reply #2

V 9 N. 25 An Inside Story on that 1966 Mile World Record at Berkeley

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