Having a plan that allows for the unexpected. In his race with Landy, Bannister exhibited his ability to change plans during the race. When Landy had built up a commanding lead by the end of the second lap and showed no signs of tiring, Bannister realized that he would have to forego his prerace plan.
To have any “finish’ ’ left I must be able to follow at his shoulder throughout the early part of the last lap. How could I close the gap before the bell? If I were to stand any chance of winning I must reach his shoulder before then.
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I must abandon my own time schedule and run to his. This was the turning point of the race. (Bannister, 1955, p. 214)
Mental preparation. For the last 5 days before the Iffley Road race, Bannister rested as he began to store “nervous energy.” Then he began to run the race in his mind.
Each night in the week before the race there came a moment when I saw myself at the starting line. My whole body would grow nervous and tremble.
I ran the race over in my mind. Then I would calm myself and sometimes go off to sleep. (Bannister, 1955, p. 186)