3:33.1

That last of Jim Ryun's world records were perhaps his greatest. His 3:51.1 mile was called the finest of them all by Roger Bannister. Straight to the front, no pacesetters, just one man against the clock. That was June 23, 1967.

Two weeks later, Jim Ryun was at it again at the Commonwealth versus the United States in the Los Angeles Coliseum. In the interim, he had disappeared into the mountains of Colorado, based in Alamosa where he ran the sand dunes and runs at 8-9,000 feet of altitude. While America had some of the world's greatest milers at that time (in fact, 6 of the top 10 milers in the world that year came from the AAU final on June 23rd), Ryun knew he would be facing the great Kenyan, Kip Keino, in the Commonwealth meet. 

In preparation for the race, less than one week out, Ryun attempted a one mile time trial. It did not go well. Shooting for a 4:05 in the rarified air of Alamosa, Ryun ran a 4:15 with splits of 67, 2:11 and 3:16. But he didn't panic. He took the rest of the week easy-his training log is filled with "5 miles easy" and "7 miles easy" and even, "30 minutes easy" leading up to the showdown with Keino.

And what a showdown it was. With a pedestrian opening 400m of 60.9, Ryun and Keino lurked at the back of the pack, content to let others do the work. Upon hearing the first 400m split, though, Keino decided he'd go from over 800m out and floored it.

The next 400m was covered in 56.6 seconds as Ryun tucked in behind Keino.

800m slipped by in 1:57.5. It wasn't World Record pace, but it was a race. 

Desperate to escape Ryun's punishing kick, Keino kept the pressure on but could not shake Ryun. The third 400m was covered in 58.5 for a 1200m split of 2:56 flat. Virtually neck and neck with Ryun, Keino strained to summon additional speed while Ryun dropped his head and started his kick. A gap appeared as Ryun took the lead with 300m to go.

5 meters then 10 then 20-Ryun was moving away with ease. Keino was beaten, but Ryun was was not done. 20 meters became 30 and at the top of the homestretch, Ryun's lead grew to almost 40 meters as he crossed the line in 3:33.1.

His final 300m had taken only 37.1 seconds, equivalent to a 50 second last 400m. His last 1200m was clocked in 2:46, one of the fastest ever recorded. Gone was Herb Elliot's World Record of 3:35.6. In a sport where tenths of seconds often decide World Records, Ryun had taken 2.5 seconds off the previous World Record.

It is one of the records that physiologists and followers of the sport have bandied about for years with, "What if. . . ?"

What if Ryun had been running on a Mondo track and not dirt? Some felt he lost a second per lap just for the surface of the track. What if Ryun and Keino had squared off in one of the Scandinavian meets with temperatures in the 60s instead of 100 degrees?

Clearly this record was superior to his 3:51.1 and to this day, when asked, Ryun will say, "I wish I'd been able to run the last 100m+ to finish a mile. I think I might have just had enough to dip under 3:50."

If one was to convert Ryun's 1500m to a mile (17 seconds), it was a 3:50.1 mile. If one were then to take a second off per lap, one doesn't have to stretch the argument too far to realize that Jim Ryun had the ability to run 3:46-47 for the mile.

In 1967. To watch clips of the race, click here.

This is why many call him not only America's greatest miler, but one of the greatest of all time.

EPILOGUE: 

Just weeks later, Ryun and Keino would square off again in White City (London) in the Emsley Carr Mile (race here). Keino switched tactics and decided he would sit on Ryun. After splits of 62 and 2:03, Ryun took the lead from 880 yards out and pushed the pace. 3/4 of mile was covered in 3:02. Keino lurked, easing up on Ryun's shoulder, hoping to turn the tables on him. But as Keino tried to pass with 220 to go, Ryun pushed the accelerator down once. Then twice. In a matter of 50 yards he was 10 yards clear of Keino, a margin that increased down the homestretch as Ryun crossed the line in 3:56, covering his last 440 in 53 seconds. For a highlight reel of the meet, click here.

 

 

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52 Years Ago Today, Jim Ryun Ran 3:58.3 in High School Only Competition

52 years ago, Jim Ryun accomplished another first: he ran under 4 minutes in a high school only competition. That high school competition was the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships and his winning time was 3:58.3.

He led every step of the way.

What a lot of people don't remember is that he split two 21.9 220s on his spring medley that weekend as well, one in the prelims on Friday and one in the final on Saturday AFTER his 3:58.3.

Speed is essential to running under 4 minutes and Jim Ryun proved he had plenty of it.

Here is the footage of his 3:58.3. 

 

The Art of Running, Podcast #14: Sam Bair, Jr.

Continuing a trend with this week's podcast, I had a chance to chat a few days ago with another of the men in dad's 1967 WR mile race, Sam Bair, Jr.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Sam never raced the mile in high school, but three years after he became a full time runner he dipped under 4 minutes in dad's WR race for the first time with a 3:58.7.

How did Sam get there? That to me was one of the more intriguing answers I have gotten so far in this series: "I read your dad and Peter Snell's books and wrote down all the workouts and tried to copy their training."

Not only did we chat about the 1967 race, we also chatted about the 1969 Coliseum mile where dad won and Sam finished second. Here is that race.

As I noted in the post a few days ago, the 1967 race wasn't just any race. It produced some of the fastest times in the world from some of the world's greatest milers.

And Sam Bair, Jr. was one of them.

 

How Good Was The Field in Jim Ryun's 3:51.1 WR Mile? Really good.

Dave Wilborn, who I had a chance to interview a few weeks ago for The Art of Running podcast, just sent me the below. It is a list of the fastest milers in the world in 1967. I added the bold to highlight those in the 1967 WR race.

Drew, indicating how impressive that race was in Bakersfield in 1967.  Below is a list of the fastest individuals in the world in 1967 in the mile (no 1500 equivalents, just the mile):

1) Jim Ryun, obviously, fastest miler in the world in 1967 at 3:51.1

2) Kip Keno (Kenya) 2nd fastest at 3:53.1

3) Jim Grelle 3rd fastest 3:56.1

4) Dave Wilborn 4th fastest at 3:56.2

5) Tom Von Ruden 5th fastest at 3:56.9

6) Roscoe Divine 6th fastest at 3:57.2

7) Andre De Hertoghe (Belgium) 7th fastest at 3:57.3

8) Alan Simpson (Great Britain) 8th fastest at 3:57.6

9) Dave Bailey (Canada) 9th fastest at 3:57.7

10) Anders Garderud (Sweden) 10th fastest at 3:58.6

11) Sam Bair 11th fastest at 3:58.7

12) Allan Rushmer (Great Britain) 12th fastest at 3:58.7

In other words, 6 of the 12 (50.0%) fastest milers in the world in 1967, all from that Bakersfield race!! Someone might say that most of the world ran the 1500 and not the mile.  OK, the results below combine the 1500 and the mile by adding 17 seconds (the most commonly used conversion) to the fastest 1500 runners in the world in 1967 (if an individual had a 1500 time that was better than his mile time, the 1500 time is used below):

1) Jim Ryun fastest at 3:51.1

2) Kip Keno (Kenya) 2nd fastest at 3:53.1

3) Jean Wadoux (France) 3rd fastest at 3:55.4

4) Jim Grelle 4th fastest 3:56.1

5) Dave Wilborn 5th fastest at 3:56.2

6) Ulf Hogberg (Sweden) 6th fastest at 3:56.3

7) Andre De Hertoghe (Belgium) 7th fastest at 3:56.5

8) Anders Garderud (Sweden) 8th fastest at 3:56.6

9) Claude Nicolas (France) 9th fastest at 3:56.7

10) Tom Von Ruden 10th fastest at 3:56.9

11) Roscoe Divine 11th fastest at 3:57.2

12) Manfred Matuschewski (East Germany) 12th fastest at 3:57.2

13) Arne Kvalheim (Norway) 13th fastest at 3:57.4

14) Igor Potapchenko (USSR) 14th fastest at 3:57.4

15) Francesco Arese (Italy) 15th fastest at 3:57.5

16) Bodo Tummler (West Germany) 16th fastest at 3:57.5

17) Alan Simpson (Great Britain) 17th fastest at 3:57.6

18) Olyeg Raiko (USSR) 18th fastest at 3:57.6

Now we have all the fastest 1500/mile runners in the world in 1967 and we still have 5 of the 12 (41.6%) fastest, all from that Bakersfield race.

"The Milers" by Cordner Nelson and Roberto Quercetani.  Published in 1985 by T&F News, Los Altos, CA.  Previous edition published in 1973 under title "Runners andRaces:  1500m./Mile."

The Art of Running, Podcast #13: Dave Wilborn

His is not a name most will recognize, but back in the late 1960s, Dave Wilborn wasn't just one of the fastest American milers (on the right in the picture below). He was one of the fastest in the world and recently, I had the chance to connect with him over the phone to record this podcast about his career, his roller coaster of a ride season in 1967 and what being one of the Men of Oregon was like. 

On June 17 and June 23 of 1967, Dad and Dave Wilborn's careers intersected in the finals of the NCAA and AAU championships. Dad won the NCAA's in Provo with a 4:03 (with a last lap of 52.4). Dave was 5th in 4:05. One week later, dad set the mile WR of 3:51.1 and moving up two spots from his NCAA finish was Dave, getting nipped at the line by Jim Grelle. 

It's always a thrill for me to intersect with the great runners from dad's era. I hope you enjoy this episode of The Art of Running.

Dave Wilborn

The Art of Running, Podcast #12: Marty Liquori

Growing up around my dad, I heard a lot of great stories about his competitors and watched a lot of old black and white films of his races. A name that was synonymous with dad's back in the late 1960s was Marty Liquori.

In three consecutive years, 1965, 1966 and 1967, three American high school boys ran under 4 minutes: Jim Ryun, Tim Danielson and Marty Liquori. A lot of people forget that the race that Marty broke 4 minutes in was the race where dad broke his WR in the mile, running 3:51.1. 

When one thinks of the great footraces in track and field history, one has to think of Bannister versus Landy or Bayi versus Walker and Ovett versus Coe.

Then there is, of course, the Dream Mile of 1971 and Ryun versus Liquori, the rubber match of their 1969 NCAA Mile duels, dad winning indoors, Marty winning outdoors. 

At a time when track and field was at its zenith, the eyes of the nation were on Philadelphia and the Martin Luther King Games where dad and Marty Liquori were to face off in a battle of the mile titans. The race itself, with all the "pre-game" hype did not disappoint and the finishing stretch kick was immortalized on the cover of Sports Illustrated (see below).

Marty was ranked the #1 miler in the world in 1969 and 1971, running his lifetime mile PR of 3:52.2 in 1975 behind Filbert Bayi's 3:51.0, a time that broke dad's World Record. In 1977, he ran 13:15 to set the American Record at 5,000m. 

I had the chance to chat with Marty a few weeks ago for this episode of The Art of Running and he was gracious enough to give me 30 minutes of his time. The result of that time is this podcast. Enjoy!

The Art of Running, Podcast #11: Rich Kenah

I think the first time I became aware of Rich Kenah was 1993 or 1994. I was flipping through Track and Field News (hard copy) and I saw the results of the USA Indoor 800m. Rich had placed 3rd in 1:48 point. Right then and there I started following his career. At that time, he wasn't always the fastest guy in the field, but he was always in the mix.

In 1996, at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta, I was trackside as Rich rolled past 600m in his 800m semi and he seemed to be finding more and more gears while the rest of his competitors hit the wall. He won going away, but in the final, Rich finished in the worst possible position at the Trials, much like my dad in 1972-4th. Top three go to the Olympics, fourth place stays home.

Rich and I met for the first time about 30 minutes after that race, deep in the tunnels underneath Olympic Stadium. I think he was still dazed after just missing the team, but he was gracious enough to spend 20 minutes or so chatting with me about his training. I didn't know it at the time, but another mutual friend, Craig Masback, would talk Rich into giving it at least one more year in the sport of track and field. And what a year it was for Rich.

First came the 1997 Indoor World Championships. Rich won the bronze. Then came the outdoor World Championships and again, Rich finished 3rd and won the bronze, going on to set his eventual PR at 800m of 1:43.38 that summer (to see the WC final, click here. To see his 1:43.38 PR behind Kipketer's 800m WR, click here) . 

Today Rich and his wife Cheri and their children live in Atlanta where Rich is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Track Club. We had a chance to record this podcast about 10 days ago. 

Enjoy!

 

The Art of Running, Podcast #10: Jenny Simpson

I stil remember the first time I met Jenny Simpson. It was after her junior year in high school and she showed up at our Colorado camp on the recommendation of our good friends, Bernie and Clara Taylor. It wasn't just her running ability. It was the way she carried herself-she seemed older. And who could forget the "Everyone Was Kung Fu Fighting" routine she and another camper, Scotch Swango, did during halftime of Trivia Night?

Over the years Jenny has gone on to do great things in the sport of running, winning numerous NCAA Division I titles, becoming the World Champion at 1500m in 2011, silver medallist at the Worlds in 2013 and bronze medallist in the 1500m at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today she is married to Jason (a great runner in his own right and an incredible artist) living and training in Boulder, CO.

I had a chance to connect with her over Zoom last week. The podcast is a little longer than usual, but we had a lot to discuss. 

 

 

The Art of Running, Podcast #9: Ben Payne

I am joined this week by my friend, Ben Payne. For years Ben and I have had many of the same friends but actually did not meet each other until this past summer when he joined us on staff at the Colorado running camp. Coached by Juli Benson, Ben placed 9th at the New York City marathon this past fall and is a guy who exemplifies consistency and perseverance. In this podcast we chat about Ben's journey in running and things he has learned along the way. 

Enjoy!

The Art of Running, Podcast #9: Emily Hanenburg

In this episode of the Art of Running (recorded over last summer), I am joined by Coach Emily Hanenburg of The Classical Academy (TCA) in Colorado Springs, CO. A former camper and current counselor at the Jim Ryun Running Camp, Emily was a multiple Colorado state champion in high school while at TCA and went on to run on scholarship at the University of Colorado with Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn. A talented multi-sport athlete, Emily continues to dominate campers and staff alike in Ultimate Frisbee and pick-up basketball at camp. 

Enjoy!

 

 

The Art of Running, Podcast #8: Coach Juli Benson

In this episode of The Art of Running (done remotely through Zoom.us), I get to chat with my longtime friend, Coach Juli Benson. Former coach at Georgetown and the Air Force Academy, Juli now coaches at the University of Pennsylvania and helped coach the women's cross country team to its first ever appearance at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past fall.

Juli was a great runner in her own right, an All-American and US Olympian (watch her make the 1500m team in 1996). In this podcast, we discuss training, mental preparation, specific advice Juli would give young female runners and a host of other subjects!. As Juli does a lot of TV broadcast these days, I did my best to toss her questions and stay out of the way and she crushed it.

 

The Art of Running, Podcast #7: Creating the Dynamic Runner

In this episode of The Art of Running, I am joined by Coach Aaron Yoder of Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. A great friend, Aaron is also the WR holder in the retro mile (backwards running) with a 5:54 mile. His record was covered by Runner's World just over a year ago.

A former camper and current camp coach for the Jim Ryun Running Camp, Aaron is a wealth of knowledge, especially when it comes to building a more dynamic runner. In this podcast, we discuss the Lunge Matrix (click here to watch), drills (click here to read up on the A Skip), speed development and weight training for runners.

Enjoy!

The Art of Running, Podcast #6: Ryan Hall

In this episode of The Art of Running, I am joined by former camper and Jim Ryun Running Camp counselor, Ryan Hall. Holder of a 2:04:58 marathon PR and the American Record holder in the half marathon at 59:43, Ryan is a two time Olympian and one of the most recognizable American distance runners over the last 10 years. In this episode, we discuss his career and some of his epic workouts. 

The Art of Running, Podcast #5: Injury Prevention

This week I am joined by former camper, Air Force Captain Matt Williams. Matt is a certified physical therapist who is also a sub-64 minute half marathoner. In this podcast we discuss injury prevention for runners and auxiliary drills young runners can do so they can be consistent in their training. 

As a sidenote, Matt mentions in the podcast various strengthening drills and areas of weakness most runners experience. I have found this article to have a lot of great drills that build off this conversation with Matt.

The Art of Running, Podcast #4: Nutrition for Runners

In this episode of The Art of Running, I am joined by former camper and current Jim Ryun Running Camp counselor, Abigail Tankersley. Abigail held a PR of 18:07 for the 5k in high school and ran on scholarship at the University of Alabama. A registered dietitian, Abigail shares some basic nutritional strategies young runners can employ in their diets. As I always tell our campers, the cleaner the fuel into the engine, the better performance you will get. 

Strength Training for Runners

As I tell our campers, if you want to become a better runner, you need to do one thing-run.

Around the running, though, you need to build a calendar of training with the question in mind, "What is the purpose of each workout and each training block?"

One thing I think a lot of young runners ignore is strength training. A lot of the excuses I hear are, "I don't want to bulk up!" or "I don't have time for an hour each day in the weight room!"

One, runners are Ectomorphs, which means they literally cannot bulk up unless they were to stop running altogether and start eating thousands of additional calories each day.

Two, with running as the primary focus, young runners don't need an hour each day in the weight room. But 30 minutes, three days a week will improve performance. Make sure your weight training days correspond with your hard running days. Make your hard days hard, your easy days easy.

What does strength training do for runners? I believe it makes them more injury proof and more dynamic. 

The question a lot of folks ask when developing young runners is, "What makes them faster?"

There are a host of answers, but I think one of the key ones is, "Uninterrupted training."

The stronger a runner is physically, the more punishment they can handle and the less injury they will face. Strength training not only develops stronger muscles, it develops stronger connective tissue and more bone density (critical for younger female runners).

Where to start? Put a plan together for workouts that last 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week. Identify your weak spots. Most runners fight a weak posterior chain (think hamstrings and back, both lower and upper). For introductory lifts, think basic. Hamstring curls, leg extensions, bench press and back rows. Shoot for a weight on each that enables you to lift 6-8 reps per set. You are looking to build strength. Resist the urge to do sets of 12-16 reps. There is no purpose for that kind of lifting. Body builders do those types of sets because hypertrophy leads to bigger muscle gains. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's not. 

As you progress, start thinking about adding some lifts to the ones above. Think squats and deadlifts, maybe even some One Armed Snatches. Allow for gradual adaptation (i.e., don't lift too much too soon and get injured) and always focus on technique. Better to lift lighter with good technique to begin with than too heavy with bad technique. The latter will inevitably lead to injury.

Can strength training make you faster? Yes. I believe Olympic style lifts and plyometrics can make you a faster runner. Combine these elements with hill bounding and some Repetition work, and you will be amazed at your new speed.

So if you're not in the weight room three times a week, carve out some time over this winter, put together a common sense plan (some starting ideas are here) and get started!

The Art of Running, Podcast #3: Dr. Dave Templin on Training the Mind

As my dad told me growing up, racing is 90% mental, 10% physical. It's the physical that gets you to the starting line ready to run well, but it is the mental preparation that enables you to perform at your best in any given race. This year at the San Diego camp we had the pleasure of sports phycologist Dr. Dave Templin joining us to lecture on strategies for training the mind. This podcast catches a few of the nuggets that Dave shared with the campers! He will be with us at all three camps in 2017. Enjoy!

The Art of Running, Podcast #2: Dr. Jack Daniels, the World's Most Interesting Man

I have often said that the commercial has it wrong. The Dos Equis man is not the world's most interesting man. Renowned coach and physiologist Dr. Jack Daniels is. A smoke jumper in college, Jack and his brothers lived in a rustic cabin to save money. It was so rustic Jack says, that if they wanted something to freeze during the Montana winters, they would just leave it on the table in the kitchen.

Winner of two Olympic medals in the modern pentathlon, Jack studied under some of the greatest exercise scientists the world has ever known. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements was when he sounded the alarm regarding the problem the altitude in Mexico City would present to sea level runners. With virtually no funding, Jack recruited and trained some of America's best in Alamosa, CO in 1967 and 1968. One of those athletes was my dad and in the summer of 1967, he broke two World Records.

The think I appreciate the most about Jack is that his principles are time tested. They aren't theory. They are applied science and as I tell the campers each year, even if one just applies part of the Daniels' Running Formula he (or she) will improve dramatically.

So here is Podcast #2 in our series, the Art of Running.