James Hansen is an emerging middle-distance runner from Melbourne, Australia. Currently in training with the goal of qualifying for his first Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, James’ target event is the Men’s 1500m race. In 2019 James’ world ranking peaked at 47; he is also the current Australian Mile Champion.
James’ running career had a familiar beginning – as a participant in Little Athletics, his mother wisely recognising that sport was an important developmental tool for children, and running was her first choice for her son. James showed immediate talent, winning numerous races early in his career, but with that came a great deal of pressure. James suffered severe anxiety before his races at the age of 8 and would do almost anything to avoid racing. It was fair to say he completely resented running.
That changed for James when, later in his teens he identified and ambition to compete at an Olympic Games. This posed a problem for James, who was very aware of where his talents lay – in running. Fortunately for James, not long after discovering his dream, a coach entered his life who taught him how to train as an elite athlete. It required consistency, discipline, a science-based approach, along with James trusting and believing that his new mentor’s principles would help him achieve the results he was aiming for.
Suddenly, the anxiety James faced as a young boy completely subsided before races. He knew now that by having a training plan he could control the outcome. This completely changed the way he viewed running; he actually found himself finding joy in the process and finding his mental and physical limits as a runner.
In 2018, James wrote a quote for International Running Day, describing what running now means to him and how through learning to train effectively, anyone can experience the joy of running:
It wasn’t till recently that I really understood how powerful running is. It’s not about winning the race against others, it’s about winning the race against yourself. Every day you fight a battle with your flesh telling you to quit and your spirit telling you to push harder. It’s always the size of your dream which determines which one wins. I don’t know any other sport which pushes your mind and body to the level which running does. But when you give your all, there is nothing more satisfying. It doesn’t matter what level you are at; it’s about winning that battle within your mind and body to truly understand your physical and mental limits.
James reveals his favourite running story is of British middle-distance champion Roger Bannister, breaking the once-impossible 4-minute mile. In the early 1950s scientists declared that humans did not have the capacity to run a mile in a time of under 4 minutes and trying to do so could put the athletes’ life in danger. One man, however, didn’t allow this to alter his destiny and he decided to believe in the impossible. He trained harder and smarter than any before him, and on the 6th of May 1954, in front of a crowd of over 1000 doubters Roger Bannister became the first person to break this so-called unattainable feat. Two years ago, James became only the 69th Australian to break the same barrier, and regards it as one of his proudest achievements because of what it represents:
One person fighting for their dream and through that, helping many others break through their own barriers.
Now, James wants to be that person for others:
‘I’ll always believe in you more that you believe in yourself. Together I believe that we can achieve your running related goal, regardless of how big or small it may be.’
Mile (1609m): 3.59.32
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