Des Linden Breaks Down The Training Data Behind Her Incredible Master’s Marathon Record

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Des Linden’s recent performance at the Chicago Marathon showed that despite now being labeled a master’s athlete, she is still able to run with the best.

Clocking a time of 2:27:35 led her to knock the previous American master’s marathon record of 2:27:47 set in 2015 by Deena Kastor

Des took a deep dive with us into everything that went into the buildup to Linden’s record-breaking performance. COROS gave us an exclusive insight into Linden’s training and race data.

We got to chat to Des to get her take on her buildup, her run at Chicago, and what’s coming next for her.

des linden running

Building Up to The Chicago Marathon

Linden describes her build-up to the Chicago Marathon as “pretty typical.” Following her 2:27:18 result at the Boston Marathon, her target race for the spring, Linden took some extended time off compared to years prior. 

As a result, she and her coach decided she would need a few extra weeks for her build to the Chicago Marathon. Rather than her typical 10-week build, they opted for a 16-week build to allow her to build into better shape before more focused sessions.

coros watch showing a 2:27 marathon

Looking at her COROS training data, you can see her Base Fitness increase in the first few weeks was slower, as her training was more unstructured. When she and her coach began to dial into more specific workouts for Chicago, her Base Fitness began to take off.

Linden’s strategic adjustment to her build allowed her to reduce fatigue and take on challenging workouts with well-rested legs. Throughout her 16-week build to the Chicago Marathon, her COROS data showed her Base Fitness started at 98 and increased to 287 before tapering for the race.

base fitness from coros

“You can definitely see a slow climb to fitness over the first half of training, and then the following few weeks, fitness really accelerated quickly. I think I hit peak fitness at the right time and never felt burnt out during the build.” Des says as she reflects on her COROS data.

Prioritizing recovery was key to Linden’s success at the Chicago Marathon. Des credits a combination of being in tune with her body and various COROS metrics to keep in check with her daily efforts.

Specifically, using the HRV metric from her COROS watch was key in confirming her fatigue when she was feeling “off” and helped her make day-to-day adjustments to avoid injury or too much fatigue.

“The data confirmed exactly what I was feeling, and I knew that I needed to make some adjustments or would find myself in trouble – with injury or fatigue – if I didn’t.”

As she enters into the master ranks, she says focusing on the little aspects of recovery is key. When you’re young, getting away with a night of poor sleep is much easier.

As we age, it takes longer for our bodies to recover. Des says she makes sleep a high priority in her recovery as she’s found it’s one of the best tools for promoting recovery. 

Des Linden’s Record-Breaking run

Before the race, Des knew she put in the work and was ready to break the record. Reflecting on her COROS data gave her a good confidence boost before the race and confirmed that the goal was within reach.

“Looking back at the weeks and weeks of stacked work is a good reminder that I wasn’t shooting for something outrageous, and all the miles and splits during hard sessions suggested that I had the fitness to get the job done.”

She knew that, despite the training, she still had to execute on race day, and it was going to be a challenge. Her COROS Pace 3 helped her gauge her efforts as she was able to see her splits to ensure she was on pace.

Des said that she was feeling great through mile 21 of the race and thought breaking the record was a “slam dunk.”

But at mile 22, the wheels began to fall off. Struggling through the last 4 miles, her confidence in breaking the record began to dwindle. 

“The last four miles were a real struggle, and I honestly wasn’t confident I was going to surpass the 2:27:47 mark until about the last 200 meters!”

Des Linden Breaks Down The Training Data Behind Her Incredible Master's Marathon Record 1

Looking at the splits that Des’ COROS Pace 3 and Heart Rate Monitor captured, you can see she was able to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race.

Her data shows where her pace began to slow, but with years of experience under her belt, she was able to see the race through to the end and claim the record.

Des Linden Breaks Down The Training Data Behind Her Incredible Master's Marathon Record 2

Here, we can see Des’ mile splits from the back half of the race. Her COROS data shows that as she began to hit a wall at mile 22, her stride length began to shorten, but her cadence increased as she put in more effort to maintain pace.

What’s Next For Des Linden?

While maintaining her passion for racing marathons, Des is also expanding her racing portfolio. She is slated to race the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Florida, on February 3rd, but she also has a few other adventures on her agenda. 

Before gearing up for her 5th Olympic Trials, she will head to Tokyo to rub elbows with some of the world’s best ultra and trail runners for a long trail run.

“I’m excited to test myself on some new surfaces and learn from the best.”

To ensure she’s recovering well from her major events, she uses COROS Training Status Zones. She knows that keeping peak race fitness all year long isn’t possible and that time off and recovery are important for longevity.

COROS Training Status Zones gives Des a perspective on how her year is shaping up. COROS has six Training Status Zones to help athletes monitor their recovery needs and readiness for hard efforts.

Des Linden Breaks Down The Training Data Behind Her Incredible Master's Marathon Record 3

Coming into the Chicago Marathon, her COROS Training Status Zone was “Performance”; she was ready to take on significant physical effort. 

As she takes time off at the tail end of the season, she knows her COROS Training Status Zone may go into “Decreasing,” where she loses a bit of fitness after a break.

“It generally looks like waves — build to fitness, peak fitness, and time off where a bit of fitness is lost. If I look at the Training Status and it’s a straight line all the way across the year, it means I’m doing something wrong.”

Maintaining Longevity in Running

Running can be an exhausting sport, and it is important for athletes to recover both physically and mentally. To have a career the length that she has had, we asked Des what has kept her driven and excited through so many years of running

“Personally, I’ve always kept the passion for competing and testing myself. So far, I’ve been able to find new goals and ways to be excited for the sport.”

From being a front runner at World Major Marathons and chasing times, there’s hardly a shortage of things she’s trying to accomplish.

For now, as she enters the Masters category, she setting new goals.

“I’m excited about competing in my new age category and setting records there, while still trying to upset some of the young bucks who are up and coming.”

The data doesn’t lie; Des Linden, despite entering into the master category, is still a force to be reckoned with. Using her COROS data and relentless determination, it’s certain Des will continue to break barriers in the sport of running.

Photos courtesy of COROS

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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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