Des Linden celebrated her 40th birthday in July, newly designating her a "Masters" runner. But for Des, the new title doesn't mean much; she's as determined and goal-driven as ever. On October 8th, Des will be racing the Chicago marathon, the 25th marathon in her career, and going for the Masters record of 2:27:47 currently held by Deena Kastor. With 2 Olympics under her belt and numerous top 10 finishes in various World Marathon Majors, she solidified herself as one of the most consistent runners of all time with some serious longevity and work ethic in the sport. While she continues to train rigorously, she's also embraced the wisdom that comes with her breadth of experience, adjusting her training regimen and athletic aspirations accordingly.

Des Linden's Build to the Chicago Marathon

Des had a much longer build than normal for her going into the Chicago marathon, which was about 16 weeks compared to normally 10 weeks. The build started out unfocused and continued to get more specific as the weeks went on. Her weekly routine featured two long runs: one emphasizing efforts at 5K to half-marathon, and the other tailored specifically to marathon pace. In the past, Des was known for her high-volume training, often  completing sessions on fatigued legs. A few years ago, she noticed this was taking too much energy to sustain. She has now shifted her strategy, relying on the accumulated training volume from her past training blocks.

This strategic adjustment enables her to tackle quality sessions with the advantage of well-rested legs. "I am now more focused on quicker stuff because that is what declines most rapidly as you age. The volume I have done in the past doesn't need to be repeated," she said when speaking with COROS about her training. Bringing down the training volume has allowed Des not to feel like she's bordering the fine line of risking injury.

Des' Base Fitness started at 98 and progressed to 287 before tapering for Chicago.

Continuing to Set Goals and Reevaluate

Des has always enjoyed chasing the front pack while setting goals to win races and set personal records. She understands that racing in her 40s is not all about setting the best times. She now finds balance between being realistic but also optimistic in her goal setting. Des always asks herself before a marathon build, "What is the next thing? What am I chasing?" It is important for Des to reevaluate after every big race and establish her 'why'. The answer is not always the same.

Des has a clear and easily defined goal for her upcoming Chicago marathon. She aims to challenge Deena Kastor's American masters record of 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 47 seconds, established in Chicago in 2015. This pursuit of a record represents a powerful driving force in her marathon journey.

Looking Ahead and Future Goals

Des is continuing to stay focused on the marathon. Nevertheless, as her ambitions continue to evolve, she is exploring opportunities to participate in different race events. Des has openly talked about her interest in ultramarathons and trail races. Her 50k World Record of 2:59:54, which she accomplished in 2021, only fueled the fire for longer races. Her primary interests lie in the Comrades Marathon and one of the UTMB Finals events in Chamonix, France. "There are a few things in the back of my mind that are rapidly pushing to the front," she expressed. Des is motivated and inspired to take on these races in the upcoming year or two, demonstrating her willingness to diversify her racing portfolio and embrace new challenges.

Des Top 5 Tips for Running Later in Life

Age is just a number, and many runners continue to enjoy the sport well into their later years. The key is to adapt your training and listen to your body to ensure a safe and enjoyable running experience as you age. Des provided some additional guidance:

  1. Balance Realism and Optimism: Strive for harmony between acknowledging your current reality and creating a positive outlook about your potential. Continue to explore how you can test yourself with different challenges.
  2. Embrace Training Changes: Maintain a flexible mindset, welcoming alterations in your training routines. Stay open to the fact you may be entering a new season where you have to do things differently.
  3. Value Experience and Consistency: Recognize the crucial role that experience and consistency in your journey. They form the foundations of growth and progress.
  4. Emphasize Health and Stability: Direct your attention toward sustaining good health and stable routines. Recognize that not every day has to be exceptional; the focus should be on maintaining consistent well-being.
  5. Set Ambitious Long-Term Goals: Acknowledge that peaks in performance often come later in life, especially for females. Continue to set ambitious goals and stay committed to your aspirations.

Des Linden's COROS Watch at the 2023 Chicago Marathon

On race day, Des will be strapping on the PACE 3 watch, which she appreciates for its lightweight design and the added bonus that it matches her race day attire. Additionally, she'll be wearing COROS' new heart rate monitor, a familiar product in her training routine.

Regardless of whether you are a seasoned athlete with years of experience or someone just beginning their journey in running, Des Linden's evolution in the sport serves as an inspiring and educational example. Her story emphasizes the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and the pursuit of continuous improvement on the athletic path. Be on the lookout for how Des performs at the 2023 Chicago Marathon!