Movie Quote Thursday – Running Faster


Movie Quote Thursday – Running Faster

Do you know how long it’s been since Sir Roger Bannister broke the 4:00 mile mark? It was actually 62 years ago yesterday. Not only was his run historic in that it set an easily relatable point of reference for measuring the 1-mile distance in running, but looking back decades later, it was a magical starting point for the larger discussion of how fast humans can become. If we could break the 4:00-mile mark, what about 3:50, 3:40, or faster? How fast could we run a 10K or a marathon? What are our limits? Can we keep getting faster and faster as time goes by? It’s almost as though Roger Bannister gave us the belief that we could witness our own evolution in real time. He didn’t break the 4:00-mile, he gave us a new watch.

With regards to running, we are actually not much faster than we were 60 years ago. The men’s mile world record has only gone down by 17 seconds in that span of time, and hasn’t been broken in about 15 years. The women’s record of 4:12 has stood for about 20 years. Both the men and women’s marathon records are about 10 years old. These faster times may be due to a few “non-evolutionary” factors: 1) track surfaces have improved, 2) shoe and clothing technology has improved, 3) training and nutrition theory have evolved, and most notably, 4) we pick our athletes better; the average runner 60 years ago was just like the average baseball player, and the average shot putter, and the average soccer player – they were all about the same build. Advances in technology and becoming better at matching the type of athlete for the specific sport have had the most impact – maybe all of the impact – but that’s a type of evolution. One way or another, we are faster – and we will keep getting faster.

You see, we just got that new watch, and using it to measure how much better we can become has inspired us to advance our technologies, and our selection, and our knowledge of the human body. Sir Roger’s watch has allowed us to consciously affect our own evolution; we see ourselves getting faster, so we make ourselves go even faster. We select better people for the task and we invent tools to aid us. We are propelling ourselves to new heights in ever more imaginative and remarkable ways. When we look down at the watch and see ourselves actually become a little faster on purpose, it gives us belief that we can get faster still, and also a little smarter, and a little more enlightened. We believe we can become more and we have a way to prove it – just look at the watch we were given 62 years ago. We should all thank Sir Roger Bannister for that gift.

A few movies quotes on the thoughts come to mind.

“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.” –Donald Sutherland in Without Limits

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Colin Firth in Kingsman: The Secret Service

“The great and terrible thing about life is there’s just so much bloody potential” –Bill Nighy in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

“If there’s one thing that evolution has taught us, it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers…” – Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park