Scotland international half marathon runner Jenny Bannerman, of Inverness Harriers, was inspired to try to break the world mile record after hearing about Chelsea footballer Ross Barkley’s suspicious 5km performance.
The England midfielder was widely mocked last month when Chelsea posted a story saying he had run a 5km in 16min 11secs, only for an analysis of his GPS account to show that he had covered the distance in a number of stages.
Instead of being one continuous 5km, Barkley’s workout took the form of a number of shorter efforts over varying distances, all with significant recoveries spread over a one-hour period.
In response, Bannerman and members of her Inverness training group were encouraged to attempt to run what they called a “cheat mile” in a similar fashion.
She completed the task in 3min 39secs, impressive indeed when compared with the current men’s and women’s real world records of 3:43.13 and 4:12.33 respectively. Bannerman’s official best is 4:55.
She said: “After the Ross Barkley story came out someone in our training group suggested a cheat mile.
“We discussed it in our group chat on social media and decided to go for it.
“The rules were that we had 30 minutes to run a mile as fast as possible, breaking it up in any way we chose.
“It was to be done alone and in line with the current restrictions.
“We decided that the best way was to do it as a series of short efforts with long recoveries. So I did 10 or 11 short sprints on a long straight with the wind behind me. I jogged back very slowly for a recovery.
“I didn’t know I was capable of running so quickly, but obviously the long recoveries really helped.
“But, as soon as I finished, I asked myself why I had done it. My legs were so sore.
“I wasn’t the fastest of our group, however, as one of the other guys, James Geddes, did his mile in 3:23.”
Bannerman is a fan of the virtual racing challenges put in place during the coronavirus lockdown, albeit abiding by appropriate guidelines to ensure as far as possible that Barkley-type performances are eliminated.
She said: “I enjoy virtual racing in the absence of any real competitions. We’ve done quite a lot of it in our training group and I’ve also done some of the scottishathletics ones.
“Our group did a virtual relay recently with teams of four running the full marathon distance.
“Each person did either eight, seven, six or 5.2 miles to make up the full 26.2 miles. That was good fun.
“It’s good that scottishathletics have put in place some strict rules about how their virtual races are to be held.”