Des Linden is one of the most accomplished marathoners of her generation, with 26 marathons under her belt and counting. The two-time Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon Champion continues to inspire athletes through her dedicated training and precise pacing strategies. Her mantra, "Keep showing up", is testament to her consistency and commitment to the sport.

While Des maintains a high training volume over the season, she prioritizes key workouts as she gets closer to race day. Leading up to the Boston Marathon, Des will focus on her long run marathon pace workout, which she considers as a "staple of my marathon build". Click the link below to try this long run workout based on your own pace zones, and read more about how Des prepares for the marathon distance.

Find Des' Workout here: Des Linden Marathon Pace Workout

Watch Used: COROS PACE 3

Heart Rate Monitor: COROS HRM


Watch Des as she takes you through her workout and explains why it's so valuable.

Des Linden's Marathon Pace Workout

Workout zones are customized based on your current COROS Threshold Pace.

COROS Education. Marathon pace refers to the average intensity you can sustain for a full marathon (26.2 miles). When looking at your COROS Threshold Pace zones, most runners will have their marathon pace between the Aerobic Endurance and Aerobic Power zones. For elite athletes such as Des, they can run a full marathon much closer to their threshold pace, almost dipping into their Threshold zone.

Des' marathon workout refers to a long run with a dedicated marathon pace section in the middle. This type of workout is ideal for preparing athletes for both the physical and mental struggles they will face near the end of their race.

  • Warm Up: 12 miles at Aerobic Endurance
  • Marathon Pace: 5 miles at Aerobic Power
  • Cool Down: 3 miles at Aerobic Endurance

Des emphasizes the importance of long runs at easy intensity as it helps build a strong aerobic base. Only once the aerobic base is established can intensity be introduced for specific pacing.

The mental energy of trying to hit marathon pace after an effort like this is one of the hardest things to kind of get comfortable with.

This specific marathon pace workout becomes a great session to monitor over time for Des. While this workout may be a struggle at the beginning, it allows her to strengthen her mind and build comfort as the weeks go by.

I tend to struggle with this workout early in the build and then I see it get progressively better. When I struggle in this workout, it's a really good reminder of like "this is the mental effort and fortitude that it's going to take to get through those tough miles in the marathon and you can still gain a lot from it.

Training Effort Leading up to a Marathon?

Des Linden's HR zones distribution in the last six weeks.

Des's last six weeks have been focused on specific intensities (zones 2 and 4) as seen above. This intensity distribution reflects her key workout since the long run section is done in zone 2, while her goal marathon pace in this workout is performed on the border of zones 3 and 4.

The key to success in the marathon is identifying the pace or zone you can sustain for 26.2 miles. Running too fast leads to burning out mid race, while running too slow prevents you from reaching your time goal. Every runner has a unique pace range that they can sustain for this distance, which will be based on your fitness and experience as a runner. As you enter your marathon training block, we recommend you perform this workout as its a great tool to understand your marathon pace and abilities going forward.

For more information on how to pace yourself for any road race, check out our  Pacing Strategy Guide!