Training Insight Series: Chris Buckley 2:15 Marathoner & Welsh International

Chris Buckley


Chris Buckley is a Westbury Harrier through and through and wouldn’t have it any other way. There was always fierce rivalry between the two Bristol clubs, Bristol AC and Westbury Harriers, especially in the 1980’s and 90’s as both had strong squads of distance runners.

My coach Wayne Buxton of Classic Running was a Bristol stalwart and said that you always knew it would be tough to beat Westbury when Chris turned up.

Never afraid to lead from the front Chris won many races including the historic Polytechnic Marathon in 1994, which was first held in 1909 and was the premier British marathon event before the arrival of the London Marathon.

Key Achievement’s / PBs


  • 800: 1.53
  • 1500: 3.45
  • Mile: 4.01
  • 3000: 7.58
  • 5000: 3.41
  • 10,000: 29.30
  • 10,000: Auckland NZ Champion


  • 5 miles: 23.03 (a second or two either way)
  • 10k: 28.50
  • 10 miles: 48.03
  • Half marathon: 63.05
  • Marathon: 2.15.48
  • AAA 10 mile Champion
  • Welsh 10k Champion

Cross Country

  • Twice Midland XC Champion.
  • English National XC 9th/11th/14th/34th/42nd.
  • Welsh National XC Runner-Up Twice.
  • Welsh National XC Runner-Up Twice.
  • Represented Wales in 9 World XC Championship

How did you get involved in athletics?

I ran school cross country and track with my next door neighbour, Maurice Cowman, who also became an international athlete representing Ireland. His cousin, George Blackburn, came to live here from Ireland and started coaching us both, he produced at least 7 international athletes from our group, he coached us both from the age of 11.

Did you do any track?

Yes, lots of track in my career. 800-10,000m. Track speed work is very important part of athletics, what ever discipline you are doing. Track once a week in the winter, and twice in the summer.

How did you progress/get into marathon running?

I was an athlete for 30 years, it was a natural progression for me, from schoolboy 1,500/cross-country to the marathon, maybe I took up marathon running a little late at 31.

What would a typical training week in a build up to a marathon look like? (e.g. mileage/sessions etc)

3 speed sessions a week, track, hills on grass or road, endurance session 1k/ miles grass or road.

  • Monday. a.m. 7 miles, p.m. 13 miles.
  • Tuesday a.m. 5 miles, p.m. 4 x mile or 6 x 1k or 20 x 400m
  • Wednesday as Monday.
  • Thursday a.m. 5 miles, p.m. hills 10/12 x 1 minute.
  • Friday a.m. 7 miles, p.m. 10 miles.
  • Saturday a.m. 8 x 1k, p.m. 6 miles
  • Sunday 16/22 miles.

Mon/Wed/Fri were group fartlek runs, sometimes it was faster than the speed sessions, learning how to race and drop your mates ?.

What sort of races do you like to include in a marathon build up and how far out from race day?

Typical winter was good cross-country, league races, area/National championships.
Road relays and probably a half marathon before London Marathon.

How much rest and sleep did you get when you are in a marathon build up?

Sleep is just as important as training, through any period of training/racing I wouldn’t function if I didn’t get good sleep, it gave me that extra 10%.

Did you follow a specific diet when training?

No diet, not in our day, just lots of carbs, chocolate, cakes and big roasts, not to much alcohol for us boring ….

Did you complete regular strength and conditioning exercises (including mobility/technique drills and stretching)?

Yes, I did 2 weight sessions a week, obviously not big weights or 1 weights and a circuit training session and some stretching lol.

What role did physio / massage / osteo play in your training?

An important one, I had a massage every week and sometimes twice a week, when building up to London.
I used to fall asleep on the couch and could barely stand when I got off.

Yes, also Osteopath work from time to time.

Did you rotate your footwear for different sessions throughout the week?

Yes, spikes for grass sessions, probably racing flats for road/track sessions.
I was sponsored for almost 20 years, so very helpful to have plenty of choice.

Did you have any mental preparation strategies/routines when you are racing?

We used to train hard, even our fartlek sessions were very fast, I trained with 4 internationals and very good club runners, so there wasn’t much hanging about, lots of tough runs, lots of my races I wanted to do well, so I was self motivated and prepared for the race.

Considering I’d run 48.03 for 10 miles and 63.05 for a half, I was disappointed to only run 2.15, but that’s why the marathon is so tough and a very different discipline to other races.

I hope that you found Chris’ training insight interesting, if you have any questions or thoughts then please get in touch with me.

If you’re having any niggles or if you’re interested in improving your performance and would like to be connected with a UKA qualified coach, then get in touch with me at [email protected]

Happy running and keep safe.