Well folks — it CAN be done! I’ve considered the possibility of a 20-miler before work for some time. Ever since Glenn told me he did it a couple of years ago, I thought hmmm, could I rise to the occasion?

Having a Saturday free of the looming long run is of a particular appeal. But it would take more than appeal to rope me into this one. As it happens, I will be unavailable to run this long of a run on the weekend for the next three weekends. Normally I like a good 10-miler on a Saturday but 20 is never a happy thought.

But. But. But. I  had to fit in at least one 20-miler to stay on track. And so, I set my mind to it and determined I would take on this challenge on Thursday morning. I knew I had to decide on Wednesday night 100% or else it wouldn’t happen.

Here’s how it went down…

How to Run 20 Miles Before Work

4:30am: I woke up before alarm, which was set for 4:45 and decided to just get up. Why delay the inevitable, right? I had already filled up my water belt the night before, set my clothes out, packed my snacks, etc. Basically all I  had to do was brush my teeth, gulp some water, eat a mini-Clif bar and head to the gym.

The fuel: What I ate during my 20-miler

4:45am: Arrive at my treadmill with the magazines that would get me through however long it took for the sun to grace it’s presence on the world and make it safe for me to run outdoors in no fear 🙂 Unfortunately, this takes exceptionally too long if you ask. The treadmill in and of itself was probably the major downfall of this whole experiment. Then, I spent 5 minutes trying to find a channel that was not Al-Jazeera or African news. I have no idea why those were the options in the first place.

Thank you “Self” & “Marie Claire” for carrying me through!

4:55am: Begin the run at a 9:30 pace on a .5 incline. Because the treadmill is insanity squared, I had to take breaks. 4 miles, break, 4 miles, break, 3 miles, break. I had a good 9-mile out and back in my head and I figured if I did over half the mileage before going outside, my head would be in a good place.

Terrible way to spend 11 miles.

6: 40am: Head outside to bust out the last 9 miles. There’s a real benefit to cutting it in half this way. In a way, it feels like a totally different run. When I got the mile 16, I was like, dude why are my legs so tired? Oh yeah, because you just ran 16 miles.

Wonderful way to spend 9 miles.

8:10am: Arrive back home and immediately pull out RunKeeper to see how my splits were. It seems I run naturally in the low 9’s, which is good news for a girl trying to break a 4-hour marathon. I remind myself that on marathon day, my body will be in optimal shape and my legs will NOT be tired — but raring to go. This is all a mind game and I intend to win.

So pumped I made it home with time to spare! Normally, I leave my house at 8:30am so this is cutting it close and would give you very little time to make that happen. Yesterday, I happened to have a 10am meeting downtown so I had a little extra time. That being said, you’d only have to adjust this schedule by about 20 minutes to ensure you had a little extra room.

I spent about 10 minutes with the foam roller and another 5 trying to stretch out as best I could but I was in a rush and did a crappy job. I hastily made my morning power juice and re-fueled with toast with almond butter, bananas and honey.

Finished. Love my “Tommie Copper” compression shorts. Long runs are only getting these babies from now on.


  • You already get up early on weekdays so it’s not that big of a change to make it a little earlier. For me, getting up at 4:30 is not that different than getting up at 5 when I normally wake up. 
  • You don’t have to plan your weekend around the long run. You can stay up late on Friday or make plans for Saturday! It’s freeing to get it out of the way. 
  • You can eat two large cookies at lunch and not feel bad about ( I did.)
  • Bragging rights! They are yours for the whole rest of the day. 
  • Satisfaction, because you know are doing what it takes to reach your goal. 


  • No time to take your ice bath or really give yourself proper stretching time. 
  • No getting horizontal on the couch and watching movies. 
  • No leisurely brunch or tapping into whatever crazy craving you happen to have. 
  • Exhaustion throughout the day lingers.
  • It’s really hard to make yourself do it.

I wouldn’t cram this in if it wasn’t necessary but I needed to “just do it” to know it was an option if necessary. It helped me thinking about other runners I know who do the pre-5am thing regularly.

I would also prefer to do all of my run outside but safety precautions prevail. I’ve heard of plenty of women who will run by themselves in the dark but even in a “safe” area, I’m too scared.

QUESTION: What’s the longest run you’ve done on a weekday before work? Would you ever try this if you were training? Thoughts on my experience?
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