WWYD? My 20 miler.

It’s What Would You Do? Wednesday! Usually I’m pretty good at making decisions by myself, but today I’m stumped and who better to turn to with a pressing question about running than the wonderful online running community?

The answer to that is of course nobody.

Here’s my conundrum.

This weekend is the first in a set of two 20 mile long runs. I clearly remember that last year my anxiety was in overdrive over such a thing. This year I’m all


But just like every day for the past couple months the weather is stressing me out. Mother Nature cannot make up her damn mind. Monday and Tuesday were both beautiful and then it all started to go downhill from there. Friday they are calling for the  s-word yet again. I can think of more than one s-word that applies to this situation.

Anyway the best possible weather for my run would be Saturday afternoon: sunny and in the mid-50’s. Unfortunately Saturday afternoon is not available to me as Mr. Salt works so I have to weigh my other options. They are as follows:

Option 1: Saturday Morning

  • Start Time: 4:30 am
  • Forecasted Start Temp: 33 degrees
  • Wind: 2MPH


33 is chilly, but it’s not the worst thing ever. The lack of wind would be nice. It would also be nice to get this run out of the way at the beginning of the weekend so I don’t spend all day Saturday over-thinking it.


4:30 am is stupid early, but I want to make sure I have a little more than 3 hours to finish this run and Mr. Salt leaves for work around 8 am. A 20 miler that early in the morning and in the dark will be boring and lonely. Thinking about it makes me a little sad.

Option 2: Sunday Morning

  • Start Time: 8:00 am
  • Forecasted Start Temp: 34 degrees
  • Wind: 8MPH


If I went this route I would be starting off at a race.  It’s a 15K. The distance would cover nearly half of my long run and then after I crossed the finish line I would just continue on for another 10 miles. I like this option because it gives me the opportunity to not only sleep in a little later (because 4:30 is EWWWWWW), but also go on a nice little run with friends for while. Definitely nto as boring and solitary as option 1. Because it’s a club event, it will only cost me $2. Mr. Salt does not work on Sunday so I don’t have to hurry home.

This race is on a trail. Not off the beaten path or anything…it’s a rail trail and mostly crushed gravel and dirt. If the conditions on the trail are good, then the run will be flat and pretty easy on my legs. It would be nice to get another run in on a flat course because my marathon is flat.


I can’t go to this race in race mode. The point is not to PR because once I’m done I will still have the same distance plus a little extra to add on top of it.

Now back to those rail trail conditions. I really have no idea whether they are crap or not because I haven’t run over there since last year. We just had a terrible winter. With the new weather moving through on Friday it might make it even worse. For this race last year there was quite a bit of mud and potholes. Also it will be windier than Saturday. (Though I guess not by much.)

Option 3: Sunday Afternoon

  • Start Time: Whenever the heck I want. Let’s just say noon.
  • Forecasted Start Temp: The high on Sunday is supposed to be 43.
  • Wind: 13MPH with higher gusts.


I can sleep in. I can run around my neighborhood where I know there isn’t any ice or snow (yet) and I can take as long as I want.


If it were going to be warmer I wouldn’t mind the wind so much, but as it stands the conditions won’t be so great. Also I don’t love the idea of running later in the day on Sunday because it eats into time with my family. We don’t get a lot of time to hang out each week because our schedules are so opposite. At least if I ran on Sunday morning I would (theoretically) be done by 11-ish and would have the rest of the day ahead of me.

Now this is where you come in. 


What would you do in my situation? I set up a little poll for people to vote. I am definitely leaning a couple different ways, but the results of this poll will most likely help me make up my mind.

Thank you in advance!

Do you stress about your long runs? Have you ever run part of your long run in a race before? (If so, do you have any advice for me?)




88 thoughts on “WWYD? My 20 miler.

  1. Karen Shinnick says:

    You’re so cute!! I chose Sunday AM. Get up run early and have more family time..my kids are much older and looking back I wish I had more family time. Con…watch those ankles and knees if trail conditions are a little mushy!

  2. wendyistakingthelongwayhome says:

    I would do the race + extra miles. Sounds perfect. Yep, I stress over stuff like this. Last year before my marathon, I had to do my long run on a Thursday, 2 days before I normally would have done it. Did it matter? Nope. Just do it!

  3. seetinarun says:

    I would do the Saturday morning solo run, assuming you have a safe route to do so at that time. I would love getting it done with little wind and decent temps and being able to relax the rest of the weekend and not worry that weather changes, trail conditions, family plans might derail my run. It’s ok that it will be a little boring – consider it mental prep.
    The trail conditions would concern me, especially if your marathon is not a trail race (and I don’t think it is?). Could be an absolute mess and an ankle twist or worse waiting to happen.
    Leaving the run until Sunday afternoon would stress me out just because if something derailed it, I’d have no other opportunities to get it done at a later time.
    This winter stunk and I started stressing about how I was going to fit my long run in between snow storms and family activities nearly every week. And I actually enjoy long runs- hate that the S word has caused so much stress!! GL – xo

    • runsaltrun says:

      The route is safe…just one of my usual ones that I do and I’m very familiar with.
      The trail conditions are what worry me the most too, but I will say that it’s rail trail and not like off the beaten path or anything. Mostly crushed gravel and some dirt.

  4. Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says:

    I voted for early Saturday morning and I will tell you why 🙂 For me, there is nothing worse than having a 20 miler hanging over your head all weekend so I like to just get it done. For one of my 20 milers last year, I ran and half marathon and then 7 miles and its VERY hard to not get caught up in the excitement of the race and push it too much even when you tell yourself 100 times you will not do it. I was really good the first half of the race and then went WAY too fast the second half. Also, lets be honest, the weather is freaking nuts, you never know how that trail is going to look like, even if it looks fine today and an injury is not what you need right now. 4:30 a.m. sucks, but then its over and you have the rest of the weekend to recover, relax (as much as you can running after B) and be done with it! And…33 degrees is cold at first but once you warm up, its actually a really good temp to run in. Just my $0.02! Have a great day lady!

    • runsaltrun says:

      All very valid points! Having it hang over my head for the day on Saturday is the thing that worries me the most too, but I did okay with it when I moved my 18 miler to Sunday, so at least it’s something I’ve done before! Thank you very much!

  5. SuzLyfe says:

    I like to do extra miles then race, but the trail aspect does race more questions. And besides, my then you would be running early anyway. You really are in a pickle, eh? I say not the afternoon. Because that is as far from race prep as possible. That is the only help that I can be.

    • runsaltrun says:

      haha I put it in as an option, but that one is really the least attractive of the three to me. I’m right in between options A and B. The trail is rail trail so crushed gravel and dirt. Not like off the beaten path or anything.

  6. aliceruns says:

    I voted for Sunday race+solo rest. It’s OK to split your run, I heard. And not every race has to be a PR. The time with friends and the atmosphere should compensate for the fact that you should take it easy, right? At least that’s what I think. Not that I am any experienced in that or nothing.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I did split a run earlier in this cycle and it went great! Plus it wouldn’t REALLY be splitting because I would only be stopping long enough for them to take my info tag. 🙂 Very good thoughts!

  7. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says:

    I love reaching out to the running community for help with these kinds of decisions! I voted for Saturday morning because 1) I am refusing to believe we will get any significant snow on Friday that would interfere with your run 2) I like getting my runs over with the earlier the better 3) knowing you have to be back at a certain time will make you run faster! and 4) I am worried for you about how that trail will be. When I was at my new house the other day we were trying to walk around it with the inspector and it was just piles of mud where there had been snow all winter. I couldn’t even make it all the way around the house because I was wearing Toms and I was already up to my ankles in mud. You could always go try to check out the trail before the weekend, but I have a feeling all the rain/snow on Friday will only make things worse.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I am refusing to believe that as well because if I do I might go insane.
      I do sometimes like having the time constraints and yes definitely I love getting runs out of the way! Unfortunately I don’t know when I would get to check the trail myself, but I could always ask the Road Runners FB group. There is always someone running out there in all conditions!

  8. Running Boston and Beyond says:

    I would run 3-5 before the race, run the race however you want, then finish the remaining miles. Long runs aren’t meant to be fast anyway, so just do that cuz 4:30 am? Tad psycho 🙂 I get not wanting to cut into family time Sunday either, so just rest up and eat/sleep saturday and run Sunday. I’m sure I’m the 1200th person to tell you this 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oooo this is an option that I did not consider at all! You are the FIRST person to tell me this! I like the idea of getting 5 done, running 9 and then just having a smidge left over.

      • Running Boston and Beyond says:

        You can always pick up the pace in the last bit of you feel the race was too “slow”. But getting the miles in is the important part, you’re doing your speed work! I do this all the time when I want to race and have a longer run.

  9. Chaitali says:

    I voted for Sunday morning too. I just feel like 4:30 start sounds painful. You mentioned friends running the race on Sunday. Is there anyone there who you could run with that has a race pace close to your long run pace? That might help with the holding your pace back not going too fast.

    • runsaltrun says:

      This is something else I didn’t consider. I do have a couple friends running the race, but I don’t think there will be anyone with a pace similar to what I’m trying to accomplish unfortunately. That’s a great suggestion though!

  10. Eat Pray Run, DC says:

    i also vote for Sunday race + extra. More sleep still done early in the day and not totally alone. As for the s word…I’m in complete denial and will be PISSED if it comes to fruition.

    • runsaltrun says:

      ME TOO. I am so over this!!!
      I definitely am down for more sleep. If I did Sunday I would get up around 6:30 on Saturday and head to yoga which sounds nice. 🙂

  11. DarlinRae says:

    Best of luck this weekend! I try really hard not to stress out about my long runs, because that usually just leads to a anxiety, a bad attitude, and a crappy run. Also, I’ve never done part of a long run during a race, but I feel like it’s a pretty common strategy, and would certainly make me feel better about tackling 20 miles if I got to run with other runners/volunteers/aid stations for part of it. Just keep to your 20 mile pace and not your 15k pace!

  12. Sweaty Mess says:

    I’m totally voting for Sunday AM because I will be there doing my long run as a race. If you are concerned about pace, stick with me. LOL. This weather is such a mindf***.

    • runsaltrun says:

      After Lisa mentioned that we are supposed to get 1-3 inches of snow I went to look and yeah. Looks like it. Hopefully the trail will be okay for Sunday. Now I would be worried about the roads for Saturday morning early on!

      I had totally forgotten about this race until you reminded me! It would be so fun to run with you!

  13. Lori Connors says:

    I would do the Sunday race. But, I would switch it up and do the extra miles first. That way you won’t want to race:-) Learned that one the hard way!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I wish I could do 10+ miles first, but the issue with that is darkness. 🙂 The rail trail doesn’t have lights on it and I would have to start around 6:30 am. I would do that in a second if I could see!

  14. laurenwayjurlee says:

    I don’t know why my stupid computer is not showing the poll. If it were me, I’d want to do it Saturday to get it out of the way. BUT, 4:30am is too freaking early to be doing anything but sleeping. I vote for Sunday AM. I agree w/everyone that says to do the excess miles before the race so you don’t race it.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I definitely like the idea of doing some of the miles first (even if I can’t fit them all in!). I’m with you…4:30am is way early. Sleeping in is most definitely an attractive option!

  15. Rebecca Jo says:

    I like option 2… start off a bunch of miles with other people … don’t worry about your time.. .just enjoy the company 🙂 & not getting up at 4:30… BLAH!!!

  16. charissarunning says:

    I think the most fun option would be including the race in your 20-miler. 20 miles is a hard feat and to do that all alone when getting up at 4:30am? No thank you! Including some of your miles with a bunch of other people just sounds so much more appealing to me – even if the trail doesn’t have perfect conditions. Whichever you pick though, I think the Sunday afternoon option is probably the least desirable (yes, even less desirable than waking up at 4:30!). Spend that time with your family (even if you need a little nap with Betty after running your 20 miles that morning!). Good luck on your 20-miler 😀

    • runsaltrun says:

      I am such a dolt. I should have had that up there as an option as well. It’s an excellent one what with the way the weather is looking for Friday. I might need the 50’s on Saturday to melt some of it!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I think Sunday morning is your best bet and what I would pick. Waking up at 4:30 am would be a recipe for disaster for me, I would just keep hitting snooze and never wake up and family time on Sunday afternoon is just as important as getting your run in imo!

    • Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! says:

      Yeah, your last point is why I think Sunday is better – I would be stressed about getting back on time for Mr. Salt. Sometimes on my long runs something happens like I get every red light on the way to the park I run in, or need a bathroom stop, or something weird with my shoe – whatever, you don’t want to be racing home! And waking up at 4:30 sounds horrible. 😛

  18. Sam @ The Running Graduate says:

    Stress is my middle name when it comes to long runs! I always feel great the day before and after, but right before I go out I crumple with anxiety. Not. Fun.
    My opinion is do it Sunday morning. You’d be done early enough in the day to enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and hanging out with the cutest little girl ever. And you would get to do the first half of your run with other people which will break it up a bit! I don’t think running in the wind Sunday afternoon would be very fun. But this is coming from someone who’s house is shaking from the 35-40 mph winds right now…

    • runsaltrun says:

      I would be treadmilling it in that kind of wind! That said I do want to get a little bit of wind training in. Marathon is at the beach. Chance of wind will be likely. 🙂

  19. Jessica says:

    I choose option number two. It sounds like that would make you the most happy 🙂 you should do what makes you the most happy.! why stress about something you love to do. but I totally get it.. I stress about long runs too. and I usually end up doing what I wanted to anyways. lol.

  20. klregan says:

    Haha! This is great! I always stress about my long runs, and I have no idea why! I say do the race and then run the rest of your distance. It sucks to run in the dark and doing it in the middle of the day sounds like it will get in the way of things.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I wish it wasn’t so darn dark earlier or else I would run the entire extra half before the race and finish that way! Running in the afternoon seems like my least favorite option though. I don’t even know why I mentioned it haha.

  21. Jess@Flying Feet In Faith says:

    I laughed inside as I read this post because I have been exactly where you are!! I voted first thing Sunday morning because you would just have it DONE! Little wind. Wind can really break my stride. I do stress over the long runs because there are so many variables that go into planning a freaking three hour run. I try not to stress too much though because it causes my tummy to go wonky. But lets face it. A lot can happen over the course of 20 miles. Oh, and as far as the whole keep running after a race thing… I tried that once with a 10 miler race but was way too sore and tired to keep on so I just left my long run at 10 instead of 16 that day. I think giving a hard effort during a race kinda equals a long easy effort…maybe? But did run a few easy miles the next day. Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to read about how you rocked 20 miles.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I definitely hate wind, but I know that I should probably train in it at least a bit because chances are good that there will be some on race day. (Fingers crossed that won’t happen!) SO much can happen in 20 miles! I’m kind of looking forward to it though. It’s been a long time since I ran that distance! Thank you!

  22. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    I’m kind of in the same dilemma this weekend as well. 4:30 am is SOOOOO early, but an afternoon run isn’t possible. And I can’t get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday because I have to work night shift Sunday night and don’t want to be up for 36 hours straight…..dilemmas!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I hate that you might have to do it too, but kind of glad I’m not the only one who may be waking up super early to run on Saturday. Yeaaah I don’t think I’d want to do 36 hours straight either!

  23. Judith / soveryslightlymad says:

    I did a training run/race as part of a 16 miler, and really enjoyed doing it that way. But I did the extra miles before the half marathon. That way I could go as fast as I felt like at the end of the race and not worry about finishing up the run. I also only had about a 15 minute break between the first leg and the race, which was mentally easier for me.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I wish I had the option to do 10 first! It would be way too dark then. Although I guess I could get myself a headlamp or something this weekend. I would definitely be timing it so I would only have to stop my watch for a couple minutes at a time so it’s not really like splitting it at all. (Just like what you did!)

  24. Jennifer says:

    Is option 2B available (Solo Run + Race)? That is what I usually do, but again it would tire your legs to race the 15K. I ended up voting for option 1 so you could have the entire weekend free by 8:00am 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      I wish it was! The trail isn’t lit so I don’t know how I’d be feeling running 10 miles on there in the dark. I would have picked that option if it were though!

  25. Court says:

    I voted for the race + extra miles afterwards. I remember my 20-miler being so boring and thinking I should have found a race to run for the first few miles. You could always do some before the race and some after the race!

  26. Nora @ 2 Generations Running says:

    Haha, I love the poll idea! I voted for Sunday morning, because I know for me, it would definitely help to run part of a 20 miler with friends. 🙂 but really this weather needs to just STOP so we can go back to normal running plans 🙂

  27. Hailey @ Striding Strong says:

    I chose the Saturday morning one. I know 4:30 is not fun. at all. But that way you can sleep in a recover and spend time with your family on Sunday :). The conditions of the trails of that race make me a little bit nervous for you, granted you don’t know if they’re good or bad, but you have been having such stellar training that I would hate for a silly twist, trip, fall, take that all away. Good luck with your decision! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      This is true. The trail did have a lot of potholes after last winter and the weather leading up to the race then was better than it has been recently. UGH WHY IS THIS DECISION SO HARD!? (4:30 is so gross!)

  28. Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says:

    I know it’s terrible, but get it over with! Saturday morning for sure! You’ll feel like a CHAMP the rest of the weekend and your whole weekend won’t revolve around thinking about it. Just my two cents!

  29. Jess @hellotofit says:

    As lonely/boring/dark/cold as it sounds, I don’t like delaying things, so I voted for the Saturday AM solo run! As long as it’s safe to run that early where you are, it might be nice to get it out of the way, especially if you won’t be as “in the zone” for the Saturday race. And, Sunday family time is important, in my book ❤ xoxo!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Getting it out of the way is definitely an awesome option. I love the feeling of having all day Saturday to hang out with Betty after knocking out a long run! Thanks, lovely! ❤

  30. ambertherunner says:

    Sunday morning- either way, you don’t want to race before your marathon, so making it part of your long run would definitely remove the temptation. And if the rail trail doesn’t have great conditions no thanks to the s***** s***, you can just bump it to Sunday afternoon. Both sound significantly better than running in the dark on Saturday.
    I did my half this weekend as part of my long run. Only 16 miles total that day, but I’m glad I did it that way. It was a fun break from my other long runs that have either been on the treadmill or just with podcasts for company 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      That’s a good thought too. I have been keeping track of the BRRC Facebook and they have people going out to check trail conditions so I should know what’s up by Saturday afternoon. I’m having some unplanned shoulder issues so I’m thinking that skipping a Saturday workout altogether and taking a rest day tomorrow too makes good sense before going through all that.
      Plus it definitely sounds more fun than doing it alone!

  31. FLRunnerBoy says:

    I used to stress over long runs big time and still do on occasion but I’ve to break them up into 5K segments so that don’t seem so daunting. I tell myself in my head they are just 5K intervals and this usually gets me through.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I sometimes like to break down long runs in my head like that too! I like the idea of breaking them into 5Ks though. Short and sweet and gives you little blocks of time to focus on at a time! Smart!

  32. sweatyandfit says:

    I say Saturday morning! I agree that 4:30 is a ridiculous time, but think of all the FREE time you’ll have the rest of your weekend! Also any sort of wind makes me unnecessarily angry on a run haha, and 2 mph isn’t bad at all 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Wind makes me angry too. Actually the forecast has changed a bit so we are supposed to have about the same amount of wind on both days and the temps will be warmer Sunday. BUT getting it out of the way really does sound nice!

  33. the mile report says:

    Okay I thought long and hard about this (seriously, I read this post before I ran today and spent 7 miles thinking about what I would do). I would run Sunday morning but fit in a few miles before the race and a few miles after the race OR run 10 miles before the race. That way, you won’t have to worry about going out too fast in the race, you won’t have to worry about what to do if your shoes get muddy, and you’re finished earlier!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I think this is exactly what I’m going to do. Honestly I wish I could do the whole first half pre-race, but the area isn’t lit and I wouldn’t be able to see a thing. So I would love to get in 5 and change before race start, race, and then get the last 5 in after that. I love that you took so much time thinking for me though! You are a good friend. 🙂

      You also bring up a good point and maybe I’ll pack extra shoes. 🙂

  34. Sun says:

    I remember stressing about the weather and 20 milers last summer. Why can’t Mother Nature just behave for us runners? 🙂

    Knowing you, I think you could make any of those options work. I like the race + 10 option though. You won’t have to start at an ungodly hour and also get the benefit of running with others for half the run. If you’re afraid you might run the race too fast, might you have time to get in the 10 miler before the race? Could be great practice for running the last portion of a marathon on tired legs!

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