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How to incorporate running into your exercise regime

It’s not just a matter of putting on your shoes and pounding the pavement.

Whether you're training towards a specific goal, like taking part in your first 10km race, or just looking to switch things up in your workout routine, adding running to your exercise regime  - and taking it seriously - can be intimidating (and painful).

But do it right, and you might just experience the Nirvana bliss that so many people refer to as "runner’s high". 

Keep these pointers from health and fitness experts in mind before you start on your next run. Your body will thank you for it. 

#1 Make sure you eat right

"Ensure that you consume a balanced and holistic diet that includes carbohydrates, protein and fat. Adding nutritional supplements to your diet, like a good quality multivitamin (e.g. Blackmores Women’s Vitality Multi), can be useful especially if your diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals.

To boost energy and build strength, make sure you get adequate amounts of calcium (milk, yoghurt and cheese), magnesium (dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, almonds, cashews and pine nuts), zinc (beef, egg yolk, liver, milk and herring) and vitamin D (dairy products, soy milk and fortified cereal)."

- Chua Kay Tse, Blackmores Naturopath health educator and senior training manager, Singapore

#2 Stay hydrated

"Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, even when you're not exercising. Room temperature beverages (or slightly cooler) are more easily absorbed than warm beverages.

It's also important to pay attention to signs of dehydration, like unusual decreases in weight and darker urine. Keep hydrating every 15 minutes, and before exercise, try to drink 5-7ml/kg body weight four hours before your run. At the same time, moderation is key - drinking more water than the recommended amount can also be harmful."

- Dr Lim Baoying, senior staff registrar at the Changi Sports Medicine Centre

#3 Spend time working out your glutes, ankles and stretches

"Train your glutes by incorporating bridging (a common Pilates move) into your routine - developing this essential muscle group improves hip strength and stability. To safely train ankle stability, try using a wobble cushion to train your joints’ ability to stabilise your body and keep balance on a wobbly surface.

Ankles are prone to twists and sprains, and repeated injuries will cause weakness and instability of the legs. Don't forget to put effort into your stretches over time - when the muscles and joints of the body are kept supple and flexible, you will become stronger and less prone to injury."

Dr Timothy Maiden, senior podiatrist at The Foot Practice

#4 Be consistent and don’t forget to rest

"Start slow and gradually increase your pace over time to help your body adapt. This will develop your cardiovascular strength. Choose consistency over intensity - you won't get fit by running for nine hours straight just once a month!

Do also invest time in recovery - over-training is just as bad as under-training. Training tears your muscles, depletes energy stores and dehydrates your body, so you need to rest!"

Ben Pullham, running coach and founder of Coached

#5 Keep things fresh and fun

"Pay attention to your running form, stay on the balls of your feet and make sure you pick the right shoes to support your foot type. To keep things fun and fresh, join group runs as those can help you push yourself for longer distances over time and help increase performance standards."

Faith Tan, ultra-distance runner