Joseph Bieret is a former Penn Relays Gold Medalist and Atlantic 10 Track and Field First-Team All-Conference member. Today, as a professional CPA in Arizona, Joseph Bieret continues to run for the physical and mental health benefits it provides him. When fellow runners learn of his background, they often ask for tips on increasing their speed. Many runners will compete with themselves to break personal records in the mile or 5K. The problem is that most runners stick to their normal routine and eventually plateau. Today, Joseph Bieret will offer advice on how runners can break through stagnation in their running times and set personal speed records.

When looking to improve running speed, runners should consider how they spend their time when they are not running. For starters, Joseph Bieret notes that running is a full-body exercise that requires a person to rely on every muscle from their head to their toes. Therefore, weight training can help strengthen muscles and lead to more robust performance during runs.

In addition to strength training, runners must take the time to stretch. Joseph Bieret is a strong proponent of dedicating entire workouts to stretching, as it helps loosen muscles, increase flexibility and ultimately reduces the likelihood of running injuries. A runner should think of their body as a sports car. A sports car cannot run properly without the appropriate fuel. It may still run with regular gas but needs premium gas to run its absolute best. Runners should eat a meal with plenty of carbs two to three hours before their run. Runners will not want their carb-rich meal full of dairy and saturated fats as that may cause digestive issues or even cramp on your run (almost like putting diesel in your gas engine).

Joe Bieret recommends warming up to make the most of training time. Too many runners get out of the car or walk out of their houses and immediately start running. This may work for younger runners, but it is challenging to pull off without injury when we get older. The warm-up process is vital to get the blood flowing and increase circulation. The best warmup moves for runners include high knees, butt kick, and lunges. Once the workout begins, it is great to incorporate interval training since it is a great way to both improve and accelerate cardiovascular endurance. This type of training demands that a runner alternate between sprints at high intensity and a walk or jogging pace. When practicing interval training, those practicing running on a treadmill can change resistance levels by raising the incline and/or dialing up the speed.

Falling in love with training is great for any runner, but there are huge benefits to taking days off from running. The best rule of thumb is to take off the day after a strenuous running regimen. This is not to say that a runner cannot still exercise on their day off, but they should probably consider strength training or working on their flexibility via yoga or Pilates, i.e., cross-training

The gear a runner wears can make a difference. Many runners are interested in purchasing shoes and outfits that help them look their best, but Joseph Bieret recommends focusing on the fit rather than the style. The best running shoes offer ample arch support and just enough room to remain tight but allow the toes to avoid blistering. Great shoes can even help improve a runner’s posture. Improving posture is a great way to increase speed as it helps engage your core muscles and quicken your running pace. Joseph Bieret recommends keeping a neutral spine with the eyes always looking forward when running. It can help to visualize an open fist between your chin and your neck. Staying cognizant of how a runner is carrying their shoulders can help a runner realize when they are tense. Relaxed shoulders allow a runner to run more fluidly.

Finally, Joseph Bieret notes that experienced runners will always work on their breathing techniques. The muscles of a runner need oxygen in order to perform to their highest capabilities. Just as a meditator focuses on controlling their breathing through the mouth and nose so should a runner. Over time, the best thing a runner can do is sync up their breath with their running strides. When the breath and the stride work in unison, runners will notice a significant improvement in their endurance levels on long runs. Drive those knees and you will generate more power during the shorter runs.

Stayed tuned for more running tips from Joseph Bieret in his next featured article “Running and Music: What is the right mix?”v

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