CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Preparing for the Cooper River Bridge Run begins with plenty of hydration, rest, and stretching.

The 45th annual Cooper River Bridge Run will take place on Saturday, April 2nd, and if this is your first time participating, it’s important to take steps to ensure your health and safety as you work to get over the bridge.

Dr. Heather McIntosh, an orthopedic surgeon at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, said runners need to be well-prepared and train not only weeks before the big race, but the week of the race.

Making sure you adequately stretch is a key in the training process. “Even if you haven’t trained as much as you would have liked to, stretching the morning of and the day before” is important.

Staying well-hydrated is another key aspect to keep you moving. “Not just hydration the day before or the morning of, but all week to prevent heatstroke and injuries like muscle strains and sprains,” she said.

Dr. McIntosh said hydration is a top issue for runners. She said there are typically more people who end up with IVs in the medical tents getting rehydrated pr passing out than any other issue.

“Make sure you take the time to stop and drink some water if there is some available, or plan ahead and stay well-hydrated.”

Getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you are well-rested will ensure you are not worn out come race day. “If you do get tired, stop and walk or do intervals,” said Dr. McIntosh. “Sometimes people have better [race] times if they stop and walk for 30 seconds and then resume running at their usual pace.”

If you do suffer an injury while running, take a break and walk it out. Dr. McIntosh said if you cannot get back to running, don’t force yourself and do not cause a worse injury. Find medical personnel and be evaluated.

Above all, she says runners and walkers should have fun and enjoy the race. “Do your best to be healthy,” she said.