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Desi Linden

November 30, 2015

In this Competitor interview, Desi Linden discusses her training leading up to the 2016 Olympic marathon trials:

We’re starting in mid-November and a 10- to 12-week buildup is pretty normal. The first two weeks is just about building mileage. I’ll start in the 85-90-mile range and then slowly work up to about 115 over a few weeks and then top out at 120 to 125 miles. We’ll start getting into marathon-paced workouts not too far into the buildup. A few weeks after that, we’ll switch up to faster-than-marathon pace with the same types of workouts—like 5 x 2 miles and 3 x 3 miles at 10 to 15 seconds faster than marathon pace—and we’ll start hitting peak mileage about then—maybe 120 to 125 miles per week.

Yeah, I run double sessions on most days. If it’s not a day in which I’m doing something of substance—a long run or a workout—I’m probably running twice. We’ll start small—8 miles in the morning, 4 miles in the afternoon, then to 10 and 4 and build up from there.

I’ll only go up to 20 miles. In fact, I’ve only gone over that twice. Once during my Olympic buildup in 2012, I went up to 22 and apparently that’s a little too much. I’ll probably run 20 miles five times during my buildup to the Olympic Trials between early December and mid- to late January. Those are run a lot on feel, so once you start getting into it and you’re building your mileage, sometimes you just want to go out and cover the distance or get ‘time on feet’ but we do a lot of progression runs where the final 3 or 4 miles you’re running at marathon pace at the end of a 20-mile long run. And some days you just don’t have it, so you just cover the distance.

Our last big workouts are almost a month out from the race. About 4-5 weeks out, we’ll do the Hanson’s Marathon Simulator 26.2K at marathon pace and 2 x 6 miles about 5 seconds faster than marathon pace and an 8-mile tempo run. Those workouts are all smashed together in close proximity to each other over a week or so. From there, we mostly do lighter workouts where you’re touching on marathon pace after that.

The 2 x 6-mile workout is always a very big indicator. It’s the first time you step back from going 10 minutes faster than marathon pace and you feel pretty relaxed on that first one and then if you can hit that second one at the right pace and sense that it’s comfortably hard, it’s always a good indicator that you’re ready because it really comes on top of a lot of mileage. You’re tired and you’re beat up and if you can hit that, it’s a good sign. But really, there’s no one workout that if you hit or don’t hit you melt down.

For Boston this year, I was shooting for 5:20 pace for those 2 x 6 workouts. But when there are days where it’s super windy, you just go by effort and just roll with it.

We do a couple of things on the track, usually any workout that’s shorter than mile repeats we’ll do on the track. So we might do 10 x 800 at 15 seconds per mile faster than marathon pace. Later on, we’ll do 6 or 8 x mile repeats at 5:10 or so. We’ll just do two of those workouts, just to feel fast, even though you’re not really going that fast.

Our taper is only about two weeks, maybe a week and a half. We keep running super late into the buildup. I’ll run a 12-miler the week of the race.


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