A Q&A with Des Linden

May 21, 2024


Des Linden answers some of our questions about Choosing to Run—and other favorite books—in our latest author Q&A.

ChoosingToRun.jpgWhen Des woke up on April 16, 2018, the morning of the Boston Marathon, it was 39 degrees and raining, with high, gusty winds. The weather didn’t bother her. In fact, she thought it might be a blessing. She was far from peak form—recovering from illness and questioning her running future—and didn’t expect much of herself that day.

But as she ticked off mile after mile in the brutal conditions, passing familiar landmarks on the course she knew by heart, something shifted. Opportunity unexpectedly presented itself. Des tapped into her inner strength and remembered all of the reasons she loved to race.

Coming off Heartbreak Hill at Mile 22, Des took the lead and never relinquished it, becoming the 2018 Boston Marathon champion and the first American woman to win the race in thirty-three years. 

Her career has always been defined by tenacity and an independent spirit, stretching back to her first competitive race in San Diego, when she beat better-outfitted, more experienced kids. Des was a two-time All-American at Arizona State University, and as her collegiate years wound down, she decided she wasn’t done with the sport. Des gambled on herself and moved to Michigan to give professional running a try. As she rose through the elite ranks, she became increasingly determined to do things her way in an industry often bound by the status quo.

In her first book, readers will learn the story behind that resolve: the way Des trains, the way she thinks, her relationships with other great runners of her generation, and how much she values her family and friends. They’ll read about her deep connection to the most famous marathon in the world, her two very different Olympic experiences, and how she defined new goals and set a world record at the 50-kilometer distance.

Most of all, they’ll learn what makes her get up and run every day.

Des recently took some time to sign book plates for Choosing to Run and answer some of our questions about the book—and other favorites. Order by this Wednesday, May 22nd, and you'll receive a signed bookplate copy of the book before Global Running Day on June 5th.


Porchlight Book Company: Writing a book is no small undertaking. What compelled you to write this one? 

Des Linden: Winning the Boston Marathon in 2018 just felt like the exclamation point on my career in Boston. After being two seconds away from the win in 2011 and bringing people on my journey from that moment on, it felt like an end of sorts. There was also so much that happened behind the scenes on race day in 2018 that I knew needed to be shared. A book felt like the proper space to really share it all, and on my own terms.  

PBC: Writing (and reading) always prompts as many new questions as it offers answers. What is one unanswered question you encountered as you wrote the book that you are most interested in answering? 

DL: Being a professional marathoner is such a tough career path—it’s mentally and physically taxing, there’s not much fanfare, and let’s be real, the pay kind of sucks. So, it was fun to dig into different phases of my career and understand why I was so attached to the job. It was something that popped up chapter after chapter, when things got tough having a strong ‘why’ helped get me to finish lines. While I answered it a few times throughout the book, the answer changed and evolved throughout my career. After the Boston win, finding a new ‘why’ became murkier, and now it’s coupled with, what’s next?   

PBC: If there is only one thing a reader takes away from reading this book, what would you hope it to be?  

DL: I hope people walk away with a deeper appreciation for consistency. It’s not the sexiest value to talk about, but it’s so reliable. Instant gratification is all the rage, but it was nice to write a story where long game thinking and steady progress got me to the top. And it’s universal, whatever the craft is, if you put your head down, stay focused and work at it for a long period of time, you’ll see results.  

PBC: One of the great things about books is that they tend to lead readers to other books. What book[s] related to this topic would you recommend people read after (or perhaps even before) reading your book?  

DL: A few favorites:  

Once a Runner – John L. Parker, Jr. 

Endure – Alex Hutchinson  

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami 

Players – Matt Futterman   

The Rise of Superman – Steven Kotler  

The Longest Race – Kara Goucher  

Let Your Mind Run – Deena Kastor  

What is your personal favorite book? 

DL: Oh, that’s an impossible question. I do love me some Amor Towles, so I’ll go with A Gentleman in Moscow 

What are you reading now?  

DL: I’m one of those people that reads multiple books at a time – I apologize for nothing!  

Stephen King – On Writing 

Barbara Kingsolver – The Lacuna  

Bonnie Tsui – On Muscle: The Stuff That Moves Us and Why It Matters   

PBC: Do you have any future projects in the works that we can look forward to?   

DL: Writing is crazy hard! For now, most of my storytelling is happening on my podcast, Nobody Asked Us with Des & Kara 


About the Author

Des Linden grew up in San Diego, graduated from Arizona State University, and has been a professional runner since 2006. She is the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, a two-time Olympian, and set a 50k world record in 2021. A bourbon and coffee aficionado, she and her husband, Ryan, live in Michigan with their dogs, Atlas and Boston.

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