I had always wanted to become a neurologist, which is one of the most demanding vocations in medicine. Where do you stop, after all, with the brain? How does it function? What are its limits? The work seems unending.
There were only 170 neurologists in Britain then and, whether spoken or unspoken, there was this insidious feeling. How can Bannister, a mere athlete, probably spoilt by all the publicity and fame, dare aspire to neurology? But I'd done a lot of research, and my academic record was very good.
Life was very simple. My parents had come from the North of England, which is a fairly rugged, bleak, hard-working part of England, and so there was not the expectation of luxury.
Without the concentration of the mind and the will, performance would not result.
It seems quite impossible to walk in America.
The man who goes on, even when it's the hardest to be the winner.
Your spikes, which were really quite long then, would catch the material of the track and your shoe would get heavier. I was simply filing them down and rubbing some graphite on the spikes. I thought I would run more effectively.
The mile has all the elements of a drama.
If a man coaches himself, then he has only himself to blame when he is beaten.
I raced supremely well. I felt I was as well fitted to do it as I had ever been, and as perhaps I might ever be. I went climbing three weeks before, because I was feeling fed up with running.
No longer conscious of my movement, I discovered a new unity with nature. I had found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never dreamt existed.
The human spirit is indomitable. No one can ever say you must not run faster than this or jump higher than that. There will never be a time when the human spirit will not be able to better existing records.
I couldn't touch my toes with straight legs, but I could break 4 minutes for the mile.
Just because they say it's impossible doesn't mean you can't do it.
If there was the opportunity to climb a mountain, or to go ballooning, or some adventurous activity, I would always be keen to do it. I loved the countryside.
My athleticism was really the core to social acceptance, because in those days the overwhelming number of students came from more of a public school background than I did.
It's amazing that more people have climbed Mount Everest than have broken the 4-minute mile.
The reason sport is attractive to many of the general public is that it's filled with reversals. What you think may happen doesn't happen. A champion is beaten, an unknown becomes a champion.
Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport as about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks.
To move into the lead means making an act requiring fierceness and confidence. But fear must play some part...no relaxation is possible, and all discretion is thrown into the wind.
It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.
Our house was bombed, and the roof fell in. We were sitting under the stairs of the basement, and we were quite safe, but it brought home the realization. In two nights 400 people were killed in small town.
Doctors and scientists said breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.
Sport, like all of life, is about taking your chances.
We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable.
If I faltered, there would be no arms to hold me and the world would be a cold and forbidding place.
It is a paradox to say the human body has no 'limit.' There must be a limit to the speed at which men can run. I feel this may be around 3:30 for the mile. However, another paradox remains - if an athlete manages to run 3:30, another runner could be found to marginally improve on that time.
Whether we athletes liked it or not, the 4-minute mile had become rather like an Everest: a challenge to the human spirit, it was a barrier that seemed to defy all attempts to break it, an irksome reminder that men's striving might be in vain.
My family actually lived in the same village for about 400 years. They had great stability until the last century. People lived and intermarried in small villages.
My concentration was really on getting to university and becoming a doctor. My parents let me know that school marks were important. Achievement was something which came by hard work.
May is a very early time in the year and the weather is usually bad. You cannot run a fast mile race if there is a strong wind, because it makes your running uneven.
I was playing rugby and the other games English school children do, and there was an event in which races were run, and I won these by a considerable margin.
Mothers, unless they were very poor, didn't work. Both of my parents had to leave education. My mother had to work in a cotton mill until 18 or 19, when she took some training in domestic science.
I trained for less than three-quarters of an hour, maybe five days a week - I didn't have time to do more. But it was all about quality, not quantity - so I didn't waste time jogging, ever.
I've always been very impatient. At age 10 I frankly found life boring, and I can remember age 9 having the awful thought, as it seems now looking back on it, A war! That should liven things up a bit!
The Athletic Association competed against the University. So there was an event. You cannot break world records unless it is an established event, and you have three timekeepers, and the whole thing is organized.
I think that is a universal adolescent feeling, trying to find your place. The adolescent who is perfectly adjusted to his environment, I've yet to meet.
I came from such a simple origin, without any great privilege, and I would say I also wanted to make a mark. It wasn't until I was about 15 that I appeared in a race.
Every time I ran the mile I was aware of my own weakness, there was some opponent who could give me a hell of a fight, so I never went into a race with a sense of invincibility. I always had that feeling of fragility and nerves which made me run faster.