The Chicago Marathon is fast approaching, and while most of us are spectators rather than participants, there’s a lot we can learn from those amazing runners. Their commitment to the sport, their focus on the goal, the training they undergo—all add up to a winning formula that can turn beginners into winners, no matter what the sport. Here are some tips to consider:

Plan the work and work the plan. Every marathoner develops a training plan—a running schedule (including times, distances, speeds, etc.) and a set of activities that spans weeks and months, creating a structured workout schedule. The lesson for us: Set the goal, then create a plan to achieve it.

Start slowly. And pace yourself. There are no shortcuts—you won’t get to the finish line faster by working your body too hard or too long when you’re just beginning. And that’s even true on marathon day. When Catherine Ndereba set a world record at the 2001 Chicago she eased into it by running the first 5-K at just over a 5:40-per-mile pace. Then she picked up speed and went on to average about 5:20 per mile for the overall race. The lesson for us: You won’t win by cramming for the test—you need to do the work.

Friends make it fun. Many marathon runners are part of a running club where they work together and commit to a common goal. The lesson for us: You’ll be less tempted to sleep in if your workout partner is waiting for you at the gym.

Take care of your body. One reason marathoners train so diligently is to make sure their body is in peak condition come race day. Seasoned athletes know themselves and their bodies well enough to know when they need to seek advice about an issue that has arisen. The lesson for us: the only way to get back in the game if you’ve been injured is to get the right care.

The sports medicine physicians at IBJI understand your pain. Whether you’ve suffered an injury or have simply overused a muscle or a joint, they will diagnose your condition and get you the right combination of rehabilitation, medication, or surgery to get you back up to speed.

Best wishes for a great finish to the athletes running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 11, 2015 from all of us at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute!