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Training For Boston? Des Linden Just Told Us Her Top Race-Specific Tips

The marathon veteran will be making her 11th appearance at the 2024 Boston Marathon

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With the anticipation for the Boston Marathon heating up, many runners are looking forward to running the historic race for the first time. 

However, one American icon is gearing up for her 11th edition of the event.

2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden is a veteran of the sport and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the streets of Boston this year, where she will compete against some of the world’s best athletes.

In a candid interview, Linden shared insights into her illustrious career, the evolution of women’s marathon running, her training regimen, and her anticipation for the upcoming Boston Marathon.

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The Boston Marathon: A Recurring Event On Des Linden’s Calendar

The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest and most prestigious marathons in the world. First run in 1897, the race has a rich history, wmaking it a significant event in any runner’s calendar, whether it is to race or just to follow along.

Having taken part in ten editions already, Linden says what brings her back every year is the atmosphere, There’s nothing like it. Every year it’s always so special, the city, the people, they’re all there lining the streets and it really creates this feeling and environment you can’t find anywhere else.”

Reflecting on her journey through the Boston Marathon, Linden recalled the pivotal moments that have helped shape her career. From being her debut marathon in 2007 to her unforgettable victory in 2018, each Boston Marathon holds a special place in her heart. 

She reminisced about the thrill of her near misses and intense battles on the iconic course, highlighting the depth of competition and the historic significance of the event.

“You know, they’ve all been really special. I mean, I think I debuted there in 2007. So, getting to experience my first marathon on that course and really fall in love with the distance makes the event stand out.

“And then, in 2011, I was runner-up by two seconds. So there’s just this really fun battle. And we talk about the history; having that one go in the books as one of the more exciting races of that event was really cool.

“And then a lot of just like near misses or great races, but falling short and figuring out the course and the conditions, there are those things that play in. But they get a little water down with the win and a runner-up performance as well.”

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How Women’s Running Has Changed

Over the years, Linden has witnessed significant changes in women’s marathon running, noting the emergence of new talents and the increasing depth of the field. 

She emphasized the role of iconic figures in paving the way for future generations while celebrating the relentless pursuit of excellence that drives the sport forward. Linden expressed her excitement for the future of women’s marathon running, foreseeing even faster times and fiercer competition on the horizon.

“It’s been crazy. I mean, I think we’ve had our icons throughout the years that really stand out as dominant figures. I think of Katherine Switzer on the Boston course, and Joan Benoit on the American side, you know, they’re just really great women who made their mark.

“And I think now one of the things is, there are still those premiere athletes, but now there’s so much more depth in the sport. And so there’s, you know, people filling in and clipping at the heels of the front runners, which ultimately forces the front end to go faster and break barriers that we didn’t even think were possible.”

“So, seeing the times now is really phenomenal. I think the depth is filling in, and it’s just going to make it more and more competitive. And it’s just really exciting to see how fast women can run. And then, just on top of that, like some really great races with big potential.”

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Maintaining Longevity Through A Long Career

Despite her extensive experience and numerous accolades, Linden’s passion for the sport remains undiminished.

She credits her love for the training routine and the intricacies of marathon preparation with fueling her motivation year after year. Linden finds joy in the challenge of mastering the complexities of the marathon distance, continually refining her approach, and striving for peak performance.

“I love the routine of training. When you’re getting ready for a big event, that routine and discipline and training is just always really fun for me.”

“I think the marathon’s such a long distance that it’s always kind of a puzzle of putting together training, sleep, nutrition, physio, all these different things and getting so much of it right and then executing on race day.”

“I think the further I get in my career, I’ve been able to move a lot of those and make adjustments and tweaks and maintain a high level of performance even though I’m not at my best. I still really enjoy solving that puzzle and seeing how I can move all the pieces, so I still have a really great day.”

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Training On Track For Boston

As she prepares for the upcoming Boston Marathon, Linden feels optimistic about her training and physical condition. 

Following a period of consistent training and strategic recovery, she’s entering the race with confidence and determination. 

Aware of the unpredictable nature of the Boston Marathon, Linden focuses on maintaining her health and executing her race plan with precision, aiming for a strong and satisfying performance.

“It’s been pretty good. The last couple of years have probably been a little bit off, but I feel like this one’s been really consistent. I’m coming off of the US Olympic trials and then just took a brief break. I have a lot of training under the belt, a lot of marathon-specific training under the belt, and I have recovered really well from the trials.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot trying not to overcook it and get injured before the race. I think getting to the line healthy is the most important thing, but I think I’ve never been in a great spot to push to be a little bit better than I have been in the last few years.

When it comes to training and recovery, Linden relies on key metrics from her COROS watch to guide her preparation. 

She pays close attention to heart rate variability and sleep data, using them as valuable indicators of her physical condition and training load. By prioritizing recovery and making adjustments based on these metrics, Linden ensures that she is primed for peak performance on race day.

“I keep an eye on the heart rate variability a fair amount. I think that’s such a new and unique feature, but it’s really predictive. It can let you know if you’re heading into overtraining, or sometimes it’s almost predictive of a couple of days before you’re going to start feeling sick.”

“So if you can get on the front end of that, make sure you’re recovering, and really focus on that a little bit more, I think it’s a good indicator.”

“And then the sleep data, I think, is really interesting. There’s not much you do about it. I think you can be aware of, like, ‘Okay, I’ve had a couple of rough nights of sleep, like maybe try to get to bed a little bit earlier,’ or you can start to look at how it pairs with the training data. Like, ‘Oh yes, I’ve been really pushing into that overtraining, and I’m feeling tired, and now the sleep is suffering.’ So that’s something that’s gotta be tweaked or adjusted.”

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Looking ahead to the Boston Marathon, Linden sets modest yet meaningful goals for herself. 

While she hopes to achieve a competitive time and placement, she remains focused on delivering a solid performance and embracing the unique challenges of the course. 

Linden emphasizes the importance of pacing and strategic execution, aiming to cross the finish line with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

“I think I just want to go and have a really nice solid run. I’d love to be in under 2:26; that would be great, but it’s so tough to predict the time because the weather in Boston can be all over the place.”

“Again, the fields—we talked about depth—have just gotten so much deeper that predicting a place is really tough.

If I’m in the top 10, I think that would be just a phenomenal day. I think it would take a really big effort. But, I mean, I think if I’m controlling things and have a really solid one, I feel like I raced appropriately and, you know, doled out my effort throughout the course correctly. I think I can check a lot of those boxes, whether it be the time or the place or just even crossing the line and feeling like I left a little out there.

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Des Linden’s pro Tips For Anyone Running Boston For The First Time

For first-time Boston Marathon participants, Linden offers invaluable advice and course insights. 

She stresses the importance of incorporating downhill running into training routines and advises against starting too fast, cautioning runners to conserve energy for the demanding and notorious final miles. 

Drawing on her extensive experience on the Boston course, Linden shares strategies for navigating the iconic Newton hills and maximizing recovery on the ensuing descents.

“There’s still a little bit of time where you can get some downhills in your training.”

“Everyone thinks about the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hills. Climbing and hill workouts are important, but you want to prepare your body for running downhill really hard, so if you can incorporate some downhills into your training, this is great.”

“I think on race day, it’s the 101. Don’t go out too hard because Boston just really exposes you to the last six to eight miles.”

“And then I think as far as the Newton hills go, people always forget that climbing those hills is a really nice break from a lot of the downhill. So it feels tough at first, but you’re using a different muscle group. And then, after every one of those climbs in the Newton hills, you have a really nice long downhill to recover from.”

“So I think we get towards the top, and we can almost see it, and we’re like, ‘Ah, just gonna like back off here for a little bit.’ But if you can crest to the top of it, you get a nice long recovery after each of those on the downhill.”

As she prepares to return to Boston, Linden remains steadfast in her strategic approach, leaning on her years of experience and acquired wisdom.

As she embarks on her latest challenge, running fans around the world eagerly await another chapter in her storied career, inspired by her unwavering commitment to excellence and pushing the boundaries as she continues to remain at the peak of the sport.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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