In a time when a new high school record seems to be set every day, the prospect of breaking an old mark can be daunting. That was especially the case for Harrisburg High School junior Gary Martin, who hoped to break one of the oldest records in track and field – the 4-minute mile. But after much research and planning, Gary smashed that mark at his school’s indoor track meet on Jan. 26 — becoming the first Pennsylvania high schooler to do it in under 4 minutes: 3:59.9 to be exact. This wasn’t just any sub-5 mile, however; it was also a prep record (read our explainer on prep vs HS records here). So while his accomplishment won’t go down as a national ranking like a prep record usually does, Martin can take comfort knowing that he is now the sole holder of a major prep indoor track and field distance best time — period.
How Gary Martin Broke the 4-minute Mile Record
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Martin’s record-breaking sub-4 mile took a lot of work and preparation. That’s because the 4-minute mile is not only one of the most iconic records in track and field but also one of the most difficult records to break — especially in high school. If you break down the numbers, the mile is such a long and grueling event that it can take years of consistent training, both on the track and off, to get your body ready for it. For example, while a 100-meter sprint is run in just over 10 seconds, a mile is run in almost 6 minutes — roughly the same amount of time it takes to fly from New York to Los Angeles.
Other Records Set By Gary Martin
In addition to breaking the 4-minute mile, Martin also broke a record for the indoor 2-mile — clocking at 9:13:81. In fact, Martin has a few other notable marks to his name, including the school record in the 800-meter run (1:54.35), which he set earlier this year and ranks 13th-fastest in the entire state of Pennsylvania. We can’t stress enough how impressive it is for Martin to have achieved all of this-not just in one season, but in just one indoor track season alone. Most high school track and field seasons last between February and March, which means Martin only had 2 months to train for the indoor track season.
Training for a 4-minute Mile
As mentioned above, Martin had 2 months to prepare to break the 4-minute mile. To do so, he had to up his training significantly — by roughly 2 or 3 times the amount of his normal routine. For example, Martin estimates that he trained for the indoor track season by running “85 miles a week on average.” For the sub-4 mile alone, he upped his weekly mileage to “110 miles.”
As impressive as Martin’s sub-4 mile is, it’s important to remember that it was done indoors on a track — not on grass or dirt like at most outdoor track meets. That means Martin was running on a much more forgiving surface, which can often shave off seconds from one’s time. A true outdoor sub-4 mile would be more impressive than this indoor one. Still, Martin’s time doesn’t just break the indoor record for 4-minute miles. It also breaks the outdoor state record for high school boys by almost two seconds — setting a new standard that has been in place since 1993. That’s almost 25 years of someone holding a record that Martin broke in just 2 months. Talk about a big mark to leave behind.