Des Linden has proven herself time and time again as one of the U.S.’ best marathoners. Her smart, tactical racing has placed her in the top five at four of the six World Marathon Majors, including first-for-the-U.S. honors at the 2014 New York City Marathon and the 2015 Boston Marathon. At this race, though, she’s out for the win.
But what will it take for her to make the team, how is she preparing and what does she think of the race?
Read through our Q&A and be sure to cheer on Des and her teammates as they #runhappytorio!
What is your favorite part about the marathon?
I love the pivotal moment late in the race, when everything hurts and your body is telling you to slow down or stop. You get to make the decision to continue to hurt and find out what you’re made of, or back down. It’s the “You vs. You” moment that defines the race, it’s exactly what we train for; when you can get through and get the most out of yourself it’s incredibly rewarding.
When you hit a low point in training—physically or mentally—what do you tell yourself to get back on track?
I like to remind myself that training is all about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. When I hit the heavy fatigue and really start the marathon grind, it means I’m doing it right. I embrace the hurt because not many people can even get to that point; it’s a bit like a battle wound – sure it hurts, but it heals up stronger and makes for a great story later.
What are you most looking forward to at the Trials?
I always look forward to getting out there and competing. I love that the Olympic Trials are such a big event and consider it a great opportunity to pour out my best stuff on one of the biggest stages.
Can you share your goal? What will be a “great day” for you in February?
A ‘great day’ would be winning the dang thing! To break the tape and get to do the victory dance I’ve practiced in front of the mirror and visualized on so many runs over the years would really just be the best. Of course the Trials are unique in that any spot in the top three is as good as gold, so punching a trip to Rio in any spot would have to be considered a success.
What will the couple days before the race look like for you?
Everything will be pretty low key a couple days out, a bit of light running and a few pre-race press commitments. Other than that, I’ll be kicking my feet up relaxing and trying to contain all my excitement before the gun goes off.
What kind of motivation or inspiration do you get from your teammates?
I think each and every teammate brings something inspiring and motivating to the table. Our younger team members have so much passion and enthusiasm for the sport, each experience is new and exciting and they’re making huge fitness gains all the time. It’s fun to watch them learn and improve, and it’s a daily reminder that what we are doing is fun. My older teammates have so much experience and knowledge it’s great to watch these masters of the sport navigate the marathon grind and actually make it look easy. The older crew knows all about the ups and downs of the sport, and I admire their perseverance and commitment to continually seek excellence.
Is there a person on the team who makes each run you do with them a little bit better? Why?
I couldn’t pick just one person. We all have our good days and our bad days, that’s the beauty of the group, there is always someone there for you if you’re in a rut and vice-versa. I can say that team dynamics are incredibly important, when the group is really clicking, like we are now, we are all better because of it.
For someone inspired by you and your team who’s considering trying the marathon for the first time, what would you tell them?
Just sign up! Stop finding reasons you can’t and focus on all the reasons that you can. Once you sign up and are committed to a race you’ll stop questioning and start doing. It will be a trying and challenging journey all the way to the finish line, but if you commit and follow through, it will be incredibly rewarding and, believe it or not, it will be fun.