How has Anthony Whiteman kept himself in shape to run a 3:58 mile at 40?
Anthony Whiteman’s sub-four-minute mile exploits at the age of 40 are every bit as impressive as the performances of London 2012-bound Olympians.
Running 3:58.79 in Nashville on Saturday to become the first over-40 runner to break four minutes outdoors, he has defied Father Time and proved that life as an athlete does not have to end when you reach 40.
So what are his “secrets” of athletics immortality?
» Experience counts. Whiteman says he’s a magpie who has “cherry-picked” the best ideas during his life and ditched the rest.
» Quality over quantity. Whiteman adds he does about 60% of the training he used to and races 800m and 4x400m for speed.
» Nutrition. “I just follow a normal, sensible diet,” he says, adding that he weighs only marginally more than in his heyday.
» Avoid injury. Crucially, he explains, he retired from international athletics “on his own terms” while still fit and injury-free.
» Finally, have fun. “I’d love to get to the final of the British Olympic Trials just to annoy the other athletes,” he grins.
Whiteman is not a one-off either, though. On the same weekend, Lance Armstrong beat a good field to win the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii triathlon race and the seven-time Tour de France champion, now aged 40, is aiming for Ironman France on June 24 and Ironman Hawaii in October.
Back in the world of track and field, Yamilé Aldama, who turns 40 in August, won the world indoor triple jump title in March and is one of Britain’s leading medal hopes going into the London Games.
Distance running is particularly laden with golden oldies. Paula Radcliffe, 38, will try to win an Olympic marathon title that was won in Beijing four years ago by 38-year-old Constantina Diţă-Tomescu.
Radcliffe is joined in the British marathon team by 38-year-old Mara Yamauchi. Elsewhere, Bernard Lagat, 37, will be one of the favourites to challenge Mo Farah in the 5000m at the Games.
I could go on. But suffice to say Whiteman is the best middle-aged middle-distance runner on the planet and his sub-four mile shows club athletes with creaky limbs that athletics life doesn’t need to end at 40.
» A longer interview with Anthony Whiteman on the secrets of his success and countdown to his sub-four mile attempt can be seen here.