How Des Linden Won Boston: Lessons on Big Goals, Showing Up & Loving The Work

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“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”

Des Linden


On April 16, 2018, Des Linden captured the hearts of millions the world over by becoming the first American female in 33 years to win the prestigious Boston Marathon.

It wasn’t just that she won.

It’s how she won.

You see, this wasn’t supposed to be Des’ year. It wasn’t supposed to be Des’ race. Her preparation wasn’t ideal. She didn’t feel great. And doubt crept in. On top of everything, the weather conditions were unprecedented. So Des Linden decided to do what nobody does — sacrifice herself and her personal performance for the benefit of her friends. She famously pulled up when Shalane Flanagan detoured to the porta potty to pace her back to the group. Then selflessly repeated the gesture to help Molly Huddle bridge a separation gap.

These are not things you do when you are in it to win it.

But Des Linden is no ordinary athlete. And this was no ordinary race. At mile 22, Des surged out of nowhere, impossibly depositing her into the lead. In the biggest race of her life — on a day when Mother Nature and her icy rains and 25mph headwinds proved the biggest antagonist — she finally claimed the precious victory that had always previously eluded her.

Today the 2-time Olympian shares her story.

How she did it. What got her there. What it all means. And what’s next.

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This is a conversation with Des and her long-time manager Josh Cox — the U.S. 50K record holder and former elite marathoner in his own right — about a storied athletic career that until now lacked just one thing: a major marathon victory.

It’s about what this particular victory means not just to Des, but to American women’s marathoning and running in general.

It’s about the mindset that propelled her career to this historic moment.

It’s about leveraging past failures as an opportunity to grow — because failure is simply an action, not an identity.

But more than anything, this is a conversation about the power of showing up. Because when you simply keep showing up for that which you love, you make room for the miracle.

Applicable in running. Perhaps even more applicable in life.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.

For the visually inclined, you can watch our entire conversation on YouTube here: http://bit.ly/richanddes

Peace + Plants,

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P.S. – Photo credit for images of Des courtesy of Carrie Cox.

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SHOW NOTES

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

  • Ryan Linden: Des’ husband, Marathon runner turned triathlete, Team Every Man Jack, Roka Sports, Purplepatch Fitness
  • Josh Cox: former long-distance runner. He is the American record holder in the 50k. Cox, a four-time US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and three-time U.S. National Team member and (Des’) sports agent
  • Shalane Flanagan: Olympic long-distance runner, holds the American record times in the 3000 meters, 5000 m and 15K road race and podcast guest
  • Molly Huddle: long-distance runner who competes in track and cross country running events
  • Mamitu Daska: Ethiopian long-distance runner who specialises in road running events, including the marathon; 2 -time team silver medallist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships
  • Gladys Chesir: Kenyan female long-distance runner who competes over distances from 3000 metres up to the marathon; Gold medallist at the Youth Olympics and a Silver medallist at the African Games in 2015
  • Tom Grilk: Boston Athletic Association Chief Executive Officer
  • Sara Hall: professional American middle distance runner. She won the 3000 meter steeplechase in 10:03 at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico representing the United States

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering, interstitial music. Video, editing and graphics by Blake Curtis and Margo Lubin. Theme music by Ana Leimma.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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