Running races are always a bucket list favorite. They’re basically up there with skydiving, traveling the world and dying your hair blue (or is that just us?). This year, we wanted to make checking “marathon” off your bucket list easy. Just follow these 20 easy steps, get those legs moving and you’ll be well on your way to race day.

1. Find Your Motivation: There are going to be many bumps in the road to running your first marathon (pun intended). It’s good to start strong by finding a clear motivator to keep you pumped throughout your journey. (via Fitspoholic)

2. Check With the Doc: Before starting any strenuous training plan, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He/she will be able to evaluate if you are healthy enough to start training, or give you tips on how to ease into a running rhythm. (via Skinny Mom)

3. Get in Gear: You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but it is important to buy gear tailored to long distance running. This is especially important for your shoes. Try visiting a store that specializes in running gear, so the staff can give you qualified answers on finding your new kicks, like the Nike Flyknit Air Max ($225).

4. Evaluate Your Posture: When you run 26.2 miles, it can do serious damage to your body if you aren’t running correctly. Make sure your posture is perfect by researching various running styles or having a qualified trainer, coach or friend observe you and offer tips. (via FitSugar)

5. Choose a Training Plan: Keep on track by sticking to a training plan. With hundreds of plans out there, you’re going to want to choose one that’s tailored to your schedule, when the race is and how much time you have to devote to training. (via FitSugar)

6. Start Running: Now that you are mentally and physically prepped, it’s time to get out and start running. If you aren’t used to running, start off slow and go from there. Since training can last anywhere from a few months to an entire year, be kind to your body and build up endurance rather than burning out too early. (via FitSugar)

7. Eat Your Veggies: Drop the junk and adopt a healthier diet that will help fuel your body. Obviously, this isn’t 100% necessary, but it will help get your body in peak performance mode during your training and race day. (via Skinny Ms)

8. Consider Trying a Shorter Race: If time allows, it’s great to sign up for a 5k or 10k before running your marathon. This will help you acclimate to a race environments — the crowds, the fellow runners, the energy and even the snacks and mid-run water handouts. (via The Color Run)

9. Register for the Marathon: If it’s your first marathon, don’t push it. Look for a marathon that doesn’t pose too many challenges, like rocky terrain or strenuous environments. (via Active)

10. Reserve Other Accommodations: Though it’s best to run a race close to your home (you’ll be more familiar with the territory), if you do sign up for an away marathon, it’s best to book a hotel well in advance since you’ll be competing for hotel space with hundreds or thousands of fellow runners. (via My Next Run)

11. Make Time to Strength Train: While running is your main focus, it takes other muscles to help you run effectively and efficiently. Every now and then, be sure to get in some cross training to help your muscles work at their best. (via Greatist)

12. Find an Accountability Partner: When you’re finding it difficult to stay focused on your goal, it’s great to have a friend or close family member there for added support. Who knows? They could end up being your running or race partner. (via Metro Leader Newspaper)

13. Don’t be Ruled by Your Plan: Things like illnesses, celebrations, weddings, just plain ol’ bad days and and random life events are going to pop up and may derail your training and your focus. Take these unknowns into account when reviewing your training plan, and don’t beat yourself up if something else takes precedence for a few days. (via Laces and Lattes)

14. Take It Easy: It’s equally as important to train as it is to take days off and stretch, frequently. Not only does this prevent your risk for injury, but it may also improve your performance. (via FitSugar)

15. Peak Training at 20 Miles: Generally speaking, it’s best to cap your training at 20 miles to give your body time to rest and repair itself. Don’t worry, between the adrenaline and the preparation, your body is capable of powering through those last couple miles. (via Training Peaks)

16. Prepare Yourself Mentally: Mental is just as important as physical training when it comes to racing. So make sure to evaluate where you’re at mentally, and practice getting into a good head space for your big day. (via Glamour)

17. Get Ready the Night Before: The night before the marathon, put your nerves at ease by reviewing courses, sign-in policies and even where water stations are located. Knowing all the little variables will help you relax and feel better prepared. (via Livestrong)

18. Wake and Shake It: Up and at ’em. Get ready for the day by having a hearty breakfast (you’ll need it to kick butt through the day), not drinking too much water beforehand and emptying that bladder. (via Competitor)

19. Time to Run: Start your run off slow. Once you find your pace, try to maintain it throughout the majority of the race. Then, work at getting in the zone, mentally, to power through those last few miles. (via Daily Burn)

20. Bask in Your Awesomeness: Congrats on your huge achievement. Spend some time soaking in your accomplishment and reflecting on the hurdles you jumped to get there. Basically, don’t forget to treat yo’ self, because you deserve it. (via Journal Star)

Are you training for any races right now? Have you ever run a marathon? Share your tips for crossing the finish line below!