Abingdon Marathon



  • Steve - welcome to the thread. You certainly will not find many flatter courses than Abo, although after the cheering crowds of London, it is certainly a different atmosphere.

    This will be my 5th Abo, having dropped out of my first one and the one last year at 24 miles with a shin problem, therefore looking for my 3rd finish this year.

    Otherwise your marathon experience is similar to mine, having done London 4 times myself, most recently last year. Interestly I am attempting Halstead for the first time in May, which I note you have also done.  

    Obviously it sounds like your knee is better, are you running a spring marathon?

    Scudulike -  sorry to hear the bad news. I do wish you all the best for the future.

  • Thanks for your welcome AC. I've been attempting to run a marathon each year between the ages of 40 and 50, was doing okay until my knee operation last year. Halstead was my last one in 2010, i think you'll enjoy it. I had a heavy cold and should've pulled out really, but i struggled round in 3.54. (Times range from 4.13 to 3.44 for me, i'm looking to improve on that in October if i can.) If i can keep the pace going for the last 5 miles or so that is!!  image  Going to work hard on endurance i think!

    If you're looking for a certain time, you've a good chance in May i would've thought. It's pretty flat, well organised and not too crowded (about 500 ran i think when i did it - dit different to 36,000!  ) 

    How does the Virgin London compare to the Flora ones? Thought the organisation was fantastic, just wondered if it's any different.

    How's your training going? Do you always run two marathons a year? I did it once in 2007 but found it really tough, though funnily enough i ran my best time in the September one which was more hilly! I don't get this marathon lark at times!

  • Scud - Sorry to hear the news.

    Just come on the thread as I've had to decide on a DNS for Worcester mara next month, had a poor jan and feb running wise and tried to get ready for the mara but body's said no and right calf is playing up, a bit gutted but sort of knew it was going to come to this. Anyway I have an Abo place, this will(hopefully) be my 4th Abo and 7th mara.

    Waves at Fraser, Paul, AGF and AC, and hello to everyone else.

    Still after that elusive sub 3:15. But Abo's been my closest at 3:16 so there's hope yet.

  • Hi Barry - good to see you'll be coming back for some more Abo fun this year. You know it makes sense. Sensible to pull out of Worcester rather than have a miserable experience and regret it

    Welcome to Steve Jolly - great name. Is that your real surname ? I had a teacher called Pete Jolly at school in Leeds in the 80s. No relation I assume ????

  • Steve – thanks for the advice on Halstead. My main concern, is if it turns out to be hot, as I did struggle with cramp in the heat at the end of VLM last year.  The only difference I could see between the Flora and Virgin London marathons was the logo and name, otherwise the rest was the same.

    I have tried running 2 marathons a year for the last few years, as I have found that you do not have to keep building up the training from a low base each time, as you are running relatively high mileage all year round. Also if you to do get a niggle (I get my fair share),you can back off for a few weeks, without worrying too much, as you already have a high level of endurance.

    Barry – sorry to hear you had problems, but your right to look at the bigger picture. I have not had a great March myself (been struggling with adductor strain), and Halstead in May is by no means a certainty.

    FW – good to see you back

  • Barry,  I think your strategy will mean that you will start ABO training with a fully functioning Body and give you the best chance of that 3:15 yet. Good luck with the recovery.

    AC/Fraser, nice to hear your doing the race again this year, am looking forward this forum kicking into life again whilst we start to get underway in earnest !!

    I have Brighton in just over 2 weeks time. I have done about 25% extra training that I did for abingdon last year so I am hoping for a sub4 for my second marathon, lets hope the heat and number of runners do not get in the way !! A few weeks break from running and then the slow build to Abingdon begins !!

  • Hi Steve Jolly & welcome, glad to hear you are fit & able to run a marathon after knee surgery, would you mind saying what surgery you had, really interested as i had menisectomy last week, & hoping to be able to run Abingdon in Oct.

    thanks Jo.

  • Fraser- Yes, Jolly is my real name though my ancestors are from Suffolk farming stock i think, so as far i'm aware no Jollies i know are from Leeds. It's a handy name to have on the front of your runnung top when you're struggling with the latter stages of the marathon though! Got plenty of support, so it comes in handy at times! Closest i get to Leeds is supporting Stoke for my sins, though i suppose that's not that close really.

    AC -  I'm with you with regard to the heat, i'm not sure if you ran London in 2007 but that was the hottest i've ever experienced - the heat seemed to just bounce off the road surface, don't think i've ever drunk so much  image  Halstead was quite warm when i ran it i must admit, hopefully this year it'll be okay for you. I sweat loads (lovely!) so i really struggle in the hotter conditions.

    Jo - I had knee arthroscopy last April (the day before the Royal Wedding!) for torn cartilage and arhtritis. It was also discovered that i have no ACL either! The cartilage was trimmed and everything else 'cleaned up'  I'd say that i was running comfortably again mid July (about 10 weeks after) I did lots of boring gym bike, swimming and leg/hip strengthening exercises on the physios advice. Didn't rush it, but it took a while. Everyone's different though, have you had similar treatment? I'd say you've a good chance for Abingdon although i'm not sure if you'd be able to get the volume of training in for it that you're used to? My consultant advised against marathon running but they're always extra cautious i think and my knee's felt fine for a good while now. Hope this helps a bit, just got to see how you go and definitely do what the physio advises rather than try to rush things. Good luck!


  • i am doing this
  • Steve Thanks, sounds like we had the same op, I'm 10 days post op now & hoping to start the horrible boring gym routine tomorrow. Consultant has said no impact for 6 wks, review things after that, I am worried I won't have enough time to rebuild base before increasing milage for marathon training, but there's always next year. Thanks for info & hope your training goes well.


  • Good luck with your rehab work Jo, i hope it goes well. If you're seeing a physio too i'm sure you'll get back to running in a couple of months. i think if you are pretty fit up until the operation the recovery is between 6-8 weeks, so don't write off your chances just yet! I did loads of bike stuff as soon as the physio gave the okay, you can still do lots of varous interval workouts and x training to keep your fitness up.

    When i increase the mileage for marathon training i'm not sure how the knee will cope, but like you, just have to see how it goes. Think i might have to concentrate on 4 so called 'quality' workouts rather than 5-6 weekly efforts. I think every session is quite demanding and  specific meaning that legs are often pretty tired but apparantly i don't have do run any long runs further than about 16 miles. I've run 7 marathons before and never trained like this but for the sake of my knee i'll try this aprroach. The theory behind the shorter long runs is that you're running the 'last' 16 miles of the marathon rather than the first? I assume this is because you're starting them with more tired legs than normal, i'm not too sure really. Not sure if any of you have any views on this?



  • Thanx Steve, my plan is to do 4 quality runs rather than the 5 I normally do, x2 10m x1 long run (upto 20m) & x1 shorter faster run 6m. Might also x train & swim on non running days. Managed to maintain a reasonable level of fitness upto op so hopefully will be ready for Abingdon. I've never run previous marathons on shorter long run theory so can't comment on that, but personally would prefer to do 20milers, even if it is only for psychological reasons.
  • Steve -   Seriously thinking about doing 3/4 runs a week for Abo cause recenlty I have 5 to 6 weeks of decent training running 5/6 times a week then break down with injury but this is probably a lot do with the fact I don't run my slow runs slowly enough. So 3/4 decent runs with x training inbetween will suit me better. Have you checked out the 3 days a week schedule of the RW website based on the Furman First program.

  • I'm doing Abingdon this year - my first attempt at a marathon. A question for you experienced marathoners - I'm not sure what time I should be realistically aiming for. Been getting slowly faster at 10k and half marathon distances over the last year with a 10 k pb of 49 mins and half marathon pb of 1hr 55. I know times are dependent on the amount and quality of training put in but im not sure what to be aiming at. Does sub 4 hour sound realistic for a first timer?

    Any advice gratefully received!
  • SlokeyJoeSlokeyJoe ✭✭✭
    Hey Barry, I know what you mean - a few weeks of running nearly every day and I break down too. Only problem is, I seem to make big leaps forward by upping the volume. I'm sure there's a sweet spot somewhere. I just haven't found it yet.

    It will be interesting to see how you, Steve and Joe develop your schedules and how you benefit. Keep posting!

    Just back from the physio, have the all clear to start ramping up, but will try not to go too far too soon image
  • Hi SJ, good to hear you are on the road to recovery, it is a fine line we tread trying to push hard to get better.  But in the last 18 months all of my mara campaigns have been hampered by injuries so I think it's time to put my sensible head on, please remind me of this when I am fit and running again.image

    SR - Welcome to the thread, does n't matter if you 're a first timer or on your 10th,  your training, natural ability at long distance running and how bad you want it will dictate your finishing time but for your first mara your first 2 targets should be to finish and then to finish without stopping/walking.  You will find given the right mara training your shorter distance times will come down, and as you get closer to race day you will be able to make a better judgement on race pace.  If you really need a target time for a training plan, given your HM time, 4:00 to 4:15 is probably a  good place to start.

  • Hi SR3, Abo was my first mara some years ago (and second race ever) and my HM pb was 1:53 so not dissimilar. I would say 4:15 is a better target unless your HM PB dips under 1:50.

    A marathon is a bloody long way and most people screw up in their first mara (mainly, on account of there being a lot of time to screw up in, and a lot of time thereafter to suffer the consequences! image). There are some who don't so the question is, "are you feeling lucky?" image

    I was dead set on sub-4 (having naively put my one race time into McMillan!) and when things went a bit Pete Tong around 16 miles (combination of gut problems and not having fueled properly, gels, wot r they, carboloading, well I had a bagel yesterday! dear o dear) I got rather depressed and gave up a bit. Finished in 4:22. Now if my target time had been 4:15 I might have made it (or close) and there would have been much less unpleasantness.

    Pick a time with a bit of wiggle room and you can always beat it the next time, too!

  • Hi SR3

    The best bit of advice that I was given just before my first marathon, Abo 2008, was to not think about times and enjoy the race. 

    In previous years there have been some informal pacing groups that which are very useful, especially at the start, so you don't get to carried away and burn out.  Keep an eye on the thread from August onwards.

     If you log your training on Fetch they have a predicter thingy on the training log which can be useful aswell.

  • Hello thread. Good to see some familiar names AC, Barry, Fraser, ...

    4th Abo for me - and it will be my 5th marathon in total as I'm doing the South Downs Way one in June.

    SR3 - You'll get plenty of good advice from some wise heads on here (not to mention some seriously quick marathoners)

    I just looked back to my 2009 stats, and I ran 3:45 off the back of a handful of 1:40:XX halfs and a 10K PB of 47:XX - don't know if that's in the normal range of experience or not, but I know I ran within myself, at least as far as my heart rate & breathing intensity was concerned. As has already been said, first plan to finish it (in fact, first plan/hope to get yourself to the start line uninjured and not too daunted by the distance. 

  • Barry - Sorry for delay in replying but i've been off work a few days and generally check the thread out then! How naughty! Thanks for your tip about the 3 day schedule, i'll check that out. At the moment i train 4 days (with knee/hip/glute strengthening inbetween - boring but important i think!) including 1 lactate/speed endurance, 1 speed, 1 long run and 1 midweek shorter workout. I see a trainer monthly (who's a much better runner than me!) who helps me with my schedule. All the workouts are quite tough, but apparently i won't have to run much longer than a 16mile ling run in training. I've never done this before in my previous marathons so i'll see how it goes. As Jo says, psyologically i can't imagine not doing a few 20 milers. Hope you can learn by your previous training and this time you'll get to the start line fit and fully rested too, that's a challenge in itself i think!

    SR - Welcome. Well done on your training so far, that's a good start. I agree with what Barry has said, it's good to have a target, and to complete the distance without stopping is a huge achievement in itself i think. I've run 7 and still haven't been able to maintain the pace i wanted in the last 5-6 miles, perhaps this year! Good luck with your training, just take it steady and listen to your body throughout. I tried for sub 3.45 on my first one and finished in 4.13, so my target although relistic at the time, didn't take into account how difficult it is to maintain pace when your body is very tired. After a few tries i'm down to 3.44 and hoping to improve on that. Just enjoy your first one, Are you following any particular scedule?

    SlokeyJoe -  Glad you've got the all clear from the physio. Don't ramp it up too quickly, i think we all take it for granted when we feel okay and can run injury free and get carrid away!  After my knee op i was so jealous of other runners whilst i was swimming/biking etc. I don't want to feel like that again!

    Cheers all


  • Thanks for all the advice so far!

     Steve - I've had a look at various training plans.  It seems that most start 16 weeks before the race. Can't see much advice anywhere on what I should be doing prior to starting the official 16 weeks of training.  Have a few 10 mile and half marathons in the diary.  What do you recommend?

     Is there a particular schedule that is seen to be better (I know it's probably a personal thing).  On good weeks I run 5 times a week with a longer run on a Sunday morning.


  • SR -  For my first marathon i trained wwith a sub 4 runnersworld schedule, i only based that on the half i'd run at the time which was roughly 1.50. Finished my first marathon in 4.13 so wasn't too wildly out. I'm no expert on the best schedules but there is somethng called Smartcoach where you can put in a race time and your training intensity etc and it will create a suitable schedule for you. Perhaps some others on here have tried that maybe?

    Sounds like you're ready to start, especially as you have completed a half already so if i were you i'd just carry on what you're doing and if your runs are of similar type, maybe introduce a bit of speedwork for variety. Not sure if you look at any other forums on here but i find the Asics team ones very useful. There's a first timer on there and also someone looking for 4.15 time i think.

    Enjoy your 'pre' schedule running, just try a few different things without any pressure, it's a nice place to be!  image



  • Hi SR3,

    I've used runners world sub 4 schedule & also Hal Higdon inter- mediate, personally I prefer Hal Higdon, mainly because you build up to long runs earlier in the 18 wk schedule but then do 20milers only on alternate weekends, therefore legs feel more rested. But appreciate this is a personal thing.  Good luck with which ever you choose.


  • SR -  Think Jo's Hal Higdon intermediate is a good shout, i didn't look at that one but doing 20 milers on alternate weekends would definitely swing it for me!

    Jo - How's the rehab going?


  • SlokeyJoeSlokeyJoe ✭✭✭
    Hi SR, before the formal schedule starts it is probably sensible to build up with lots of easy running and some core and leg strength work. No heroic measures needed. Just get yourself a healthy base, be injury free and strong. Oh, and enjoy the freedom of just getting out and running in the sunshine image
  • Hi SR

    Great advice here, also, check out the podcast Marathon Talk  (www.marathontalk.com) run by Tom Williams and Martin Yelling (Liz Yelling's Husband) who have some great advice on episodes about training, racing and race-time predictors. It can also be quite funny, with Tony's Trials! Good luck.

  • Steve,

    thought i was doing ok, have been using x-trainer at gym & attending post op physio, still slightly swollen & bruised, but ok. Went for post op review today tho, seems consultant noticed that my patella (kneecap) is wearing away too. Not happy. image.


  • fully hoping to return to Abingdon

    withdrew at 9 miles last year as prostate was sore

    our pb is there of 4:03

    not bothered about that anymore, but i am wanting to do another marathon

  • All the best of luck with the campaign for this one Mick
  • Well brighton is now out the way.  This means I have 2 weeks off and this its full steam ahead with base building and time to smash 3:30 image
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