Blackheath Personal Training

Jim-Ashworth Beaumont, our Resident Running Specialist Shares His Experience Running Marathons


Having worked within the defense industry for almost a decade in various capacities, Jim has enjoyed careers in semi-pro athletics and engineering retail management. e qualified as a state- registered Orthotist in 2000 and has been employed as a senior clinician at one of the UK's top orthopaedic hospitals for close on 10 years.

Meanwhile, he has underpinned his understanding of life sciences and health interventions with studies to Doctorate level within one of the highest ranked UK physiotherapy faculties. These experiences have led him to develop his knowledge and skills towards combining fitness improvement with injury prevention within a fun and positive exercise environment.

With 35+ years of successful endurance, running-centered eventing and marathon experience under his belt, Jim tells you the dos and don'ts whether you are planning to run a 5K, 10K or the next big marathon.

1.How did you marathon journey start?

I’ve been involved in all sorts of endurance sports since pre-teenage years, competing at distances 5-100km at national and international level in hundreds of events. So for me the marathon distance isn’t special in itself as the bottom line requirement is for the athlete to sustain the intensity of physical and mental effort for the necessary period of time. I can’t see myself ever retiring from running. As I’m getting older, the wide range of Masters level events available constantly present new training challenges and opportunities.

In a lot of ways the marathon distance is an easy option because it’s well-known what is expected. Running something like a 5k or 10k requires just as much motivation and training but with the benefit that you can race more often and see the benefits of your training much more quickly. So I would encourage everyone to have a go at these shorter distances as they are potentially much more gratifying while requiring a little less sustained training dedication. Such distances also provide good preparation for long distance training. Research has shown that mature athletes can still train as hard as younger athletes – understanding your strengths and weaknesses when setting out your training plan is the key.

2.What training schedule should any marathon hopeful stick to in order to reach the finish line?

Any person of sound body and sufficient motivation can complete any race distance, so in a way the barriers to exercise are the same as in relation to any other activity. However, the better you are able to prepare, the quicker and more comfortable you can be while reducing your risk of injury during the process of training or competing.

A good start is to have a realistic estimate of how fit you currently are in relation to what is required to complete your target event. From here you can calculate realistic objectives and how you are going to attain those. Then, it’s important to get the timing of training progression right.

It’s common to see athletes either over-training across the board, or training aspects of fitness which either don’t add anything or actively interfere with the event and performance they are trying to train for. Likewise, tailoring your nutrition correctly is another big way to tune your body for effective race performance. Minimising excess body fat and making sure you will have adequate energy stores are very important factors in event performance. Your appetite will naturally increase but it’s important to maintain the quality of the food you eat: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and dairy. Weight control can be an issue as well-selected, well-timed and sufficient carb intake before and after sessions are critical for effective training in order to maintain the glycogen stores in your muscles.

3. What has been the one thing you have done in this marathon or the ones before this that you feel helped you most to achieve your target time/reach the finish line?

Endurance runners need to be both strong and efficient. This time around, I knew that I would need to cope with the additional stresses of completing 3 races (2 marathons and a 10k) within 6 days. I completed 8 weeks of high intensity strength and agility training before starting the marathon training plan proper.

Preparing for or accompanying your event training with dedicated strength training in the gym will reduce your injury risk during the coming weeks.

Finally, I added a further 1 or 2 sessions of maximal strength and power training per week in the final few weeks before the event. This increases power efficiency, improve running economy, stamina and race performance.

4.What mistake have you made in a marathon you have run that you think proved costly?

Peaking too early and then maintaining training volume or intensity during training increases the risk of significant injuries and fatigue later on (recovery is the most important factor in training effectiveness!).

While it is highly effective to train components of fitness in dedicated sessions, it is an error to not regularly train at around race pace. Training at ‘tempo’ helps to fine tune your body’s energy systems and improves pacing and confidence on race day.

5.What activities do you get involved in post-marathon to help with recovery?

In terms of physical recovery in the several days following an event I’ll work on CV at recovery intensities which helps to rehabilitate micro-traumas to body structures including overload to heart and respiratory muscles, and flexibility to counter the joint stiffness that will have developed during the race. I usually make sure that I have a new event on the horizon – in the current case I have a series of 5 mile and 10k races coming up. For my mental health, this helps me get over the inevitable ‘grief process’ associated with the end of a period of dedicated event-centred training!




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