Are you planning to run a marathon in the near future? You’re probably preoccupied with thoughts of all of the miles you’re going to be running in the next weeks and months. While you do need to put in the miles to build endurance, you also need to ensure you don’t collapse on the course or steps from the finish line. Here are six tips to prevent injuries and make your race enjoyable.

1. Get plenty of rest

Limit your physical activity during the week prior to race day. Elite runners often stay off their feet as much as possible the day before the marathon. Get your laundry done early in the week, make sure your fridge is stocked and let the rest of the family know they’ll have to fend for themselves on the day prior to your race.

2. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the race to keep your body functioning in prime condition. On race day, carry your beverage of choice to the starting line so you can take one last gulp before darting off. Be sure to consume water early in the race so your body has enough time to absorb it. Drink a bit more around mile 24 to give your body a little more edge to keep going during those final miles. You can even drink your morning cup of joe before the race; many runners feel they exert less effort as they run when they’re fueled in part by caffeine.

3. Wear appropriate gear

Race day is not the day to try out that new pair of Asics running shoes you just bought. Stick to your routine on race day. Wear clothes and shoes that are already broken in and that you know are comfortable. Dress as if the weather is 10 degrees warmer than it actually is. As you run and as the day progresses, you’ll warm up and need fewer clothes. Make sure the clothes you choose have no raised seams or otherwise irritate your skin. Rub a lubricant on your skin in areas which you are prone to chafe.

4. Run smart

Make sure you do a pre-race warm up to loosen your muscles and see whether you feel you should add or remove pieces of clothing. Keep it short so you don’t expend too much energy. As you run, keep an even pace and run slowly enough that you feel like you’re holding yourself back. This process will allow you to maintain a steady pace throughout the race.

5. Give your body the proper fuel

Never skip breakfast on race day. As you start running, your body will quickly burn through its stored carbohydrates. Have a light but carb-filled breakfast such as toast, bagels or whole-grain cereal and some fresh fruit.

6. Protect yourself

You’re moving and you’re only out in the sun for four to five hours, tops, so you don’t need to apply sunscreen, right? Wrong. Many courses have large areas that are unshaded. As long as the sun is shining, you’re exposed to its UV rays. In the half-hour prior to starting, apply a non-greasy sunblock to all of the areas which will be exposed.

Keep these tips in mind as you train and prepare for race day. Following them will help you prevent injuries or illnesses as you run a whopping 26.2 miles. They might even make it so easy that you get addicted and run marathons every chance you get.

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