Running A Sub 4 Minute Mile at age 35. Here’s How and Why.
By Alexander Wechsler
Entrepreneur & Former Collegiate Runner
I’ve been running for a long time, and had a reasonably successful career in high school and college, enough that I was able to join a professional team in NJ/NYC area after I graduated from Lafayette College. However, years after graduation, my time in the mile still haunts me, and as I get older and wiser, I’m starting to understand why I may not have broken the 4-minute mile.
I AM NOT SUPERMAN
As I look back, the main reason I didn't meet my goals as a runner was because I took the fun out of the running, and made it a job rather than a satisfying release or challenge to be enjoyed. It took me about ten years to come to this conclusion. When I refer to Superman, what I mean is that my ego was so fragile while in high school and college, that I refused to listen to coaches about resting - everyday I trained all out, believing that was my ticket to success.
I refused to listen to the trainers, visit the doctors and get my proper blood work or admit that I even needed to recover from hard workouts because even the slightest inclination that something was weak or wrong with me would alter my vision of myself, make me question my goals and dreams, and dampen my enthusiasm on my quest to join the elite ranks of competitive running.
As a younger man, I basically couldn't have anything interfere with my beliefs, and because of that Superman mentality, I failed.
WHY ATTEMPT TO BREAK 4-MINUTES NOW
This is not a quest to go back and complete some unfinished business. I am working toward this goal with a view toward the future, mine and that of my future family.
I want to change my genetic code for future generations. Research has shown (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/is-success-in-our-genes.html), that the achievement of large accomplishments in certain sectors of one’s life can have a significant impact on their offspring and their offspring’s offspring. In other words, it can have a multi-generational effect. maybe this explains why you have some many multi-generation success stories in sports, business, art, etc. I want to give my children, and future generations, the foundation to do amazing things, and to do that, it will start with me when I break 4 minutes!
TRACKING THE JOURNEY TO 3:59
Having started a multi-million dollar company that gives me the flexible time and resources I will need to reach my goal, I can now look at running in a new light, a release! I am now looking to achieving something I might have done when I was younger, but I did have have the mindset to compete — to run under 4:00 min in the mile.
I started my track career at the age of 5, when I was forced by my parents to do sports for all three seasons with the hope I would be too busy to fall into bad habits. So, I ran track and played soccer, and switched between the two for indoor seasons. My first real race in high school was the half mile (800m) and I ran about 2:30 as a freshman, which is nothing special.
However, my junior year summer, going into my senior year, I decided to really focus on track and see what I could do. Everyday, I would run the same three-mile loop has hard as I could. That was my training routine. My coach would send me workouts to do, but I never did them. I just kept running the same hilly three-mile loop over and over again. I remember like it was yesterday.
Going into my senior year, my older sister’s friend Dana (yes, you Dana) told my family that I wasn't good or talented enough to hit my goal of breaking 2:00 min in the half mile (800m). My best time up until this point had been 2:07 (junior year). Dana felt that in order to go under 2:00, I would have to had run 2:01-2:00 min my junior year, which I hadn't. Dana just might have given me the necessary push. In my first race of the indoor season senior year, I just went out and ran as hard as I could and finished with a personal record 800 time... 1:58.1. Mission accomplished.
Now, fast forward past my college career (results: 4:09 mile, 9:04 steeplechase, 3:49 1500m), and I find myself as one of the original professional NJ/NY Track Club team members, coached by legendary Coach Frank Gagliano. I ran for Gags for about one year, but didn’t have the fire I once had, or needed to compete in this elite setting. Additionally, I had met someone who I really cared for and saw a future with, and felt that track was no longer aligned with my values and my future plans. I can recall calling Gags and telling him my decision to retire, an emotional moment for me. I finished my career running 3:45 in the metric mile (1500m), not bad but short of my potential. Something felt unfinished when I retired, but I was too consumed with starting the next phase of my life to give it much thought.
STARTING TO RUN AGAIN, WITH A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Many things have brought me back to the track. The fact that I am about to turn thirty-five has played a role. I am contemplating the next stages of my life and starting a family.
Growing my company over the past few years has consumed too much of my time, and has kept me from exercising as regularly as I should. And then I read the study I referenced above. Can something I do really change the genetic code I pass to my kids? Can running a sub 4-minute mile influence the lives of my kids? It was just the added push I needed to get me back into training. I believe that my business, my relationships, my mental and physical health will all improve as well. So, here I go. This Project 3:59 blog will let you take the journey with me.
I am currently being coached by running guru's: Robert Johnson (Rojo, co-founder of letsrun.com) and John Kellogg. We are excited to go after this personal best attempt, and believe it to be an actual World Record for someone to run 4:00 in the mile for the first time after turning thirty-five.
Since I am having fun with running again, and going after this goal - I asked myself, "What would I want to see to learn from someone attempting this?" After speaking with my good friend, Robert Mazzucchelli, a fellow athlete and Chairman of SportsEdTV, we determined that tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPI) during the journey would be informative and instructive. We set out to track how, by setting my mind to this goal and accomplishing it, I could have a measurably positive impact on the other areas of my life. Below are some KPIs we will be tracking on my quest:
Blood Composition (Lab Results)
Whoop Analytics and Tracking (Sleep, Recovery, Strain)
Final Surge Workout and Times
Time spent with other elites (monthly basis)
Vitamins and Supplements
Times for all events
% Change in monthly personal income (Audited by my accountants)
% Growth in company revenue (Audited by my accountants)
% Improvement on credit score
Relationship Score (1-10 rated by my gf monthly)
Mental Health Assessment (Psych review)
Please visit SportsEdTV every two weeks to track my progress. I look forward to sharing my activities, and having some fun chasing a dream. Maybe this will inspire you to do something similar.