In Stride

Des Linden’s Ultimate Playlist

The 2015 Boston Marathon's top American shares the tunes in her head during her training month in Kenya

Des Linden’s Ultimate Playlist

Desiree Linden (left) finished fourth at the 2015 Boston Marathon, the top American. Photo: AP

Before Meb Keflezighi broke the 30-year-long drought in American Boston Marathon winners in 2014, there was a woman whose grit gave U.S. distance running hope. Desiree “Des” Linden (née Davila) was so unknown at the Boston Marathon in 2011 that announcers repeatedly referred to her as “Da Silva.” But like a true dark horse, Linden took control of a leaderless race at 20 miles and ground the field down to three. Then two. In the final stretch of the race down Boylston Street, Linden faltered by four seconds to finish second.

Since that storied race, Linden, 31, has solidified her presence as one of the biggest talents in American distance running, finishing second at the 2012 Olympic team trials, tenth at last year’s Boston Marathon, and fourth at Boston in 2015. In preparation for this year's race, the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project member spent a month in Iten, Kenya, training on the same roads her competitors. These are the songs that helped her train hard:

“Private Lawns,” Angus & Julia Stone
“Probably the most uncomfortable I ever feel in Kenya is when I’m passing a pack of cattle. You have to go in between them, and you’re a little uneasy, like, are these things going to attack me right now? The people say, ‘Oh, no, these are super friendly cattle. Don’t worry.’ The words in the song are a knock on the big-city life, an appreciation of the little things in smaller towns. Iten is certainly that.”

“Lovely Day,” Bill Withers
“Every day you wake up and it’s perfect out there. You have one thing to do, super simple.”

“Toxins,” Mating Ritual
“It’s about waking up in the morning, going through the day, he falls asleep, and then he wakes up again in the morning. ‘Here we go again’ is the catch. We would get up and run at 6:30, eat breakfast at 8:30, and then basically just sit around all day. You take a nap, read a book, and try and get on the internet. You just waste your whole afternoon like that, then go for your second run in the evening. Shower, eat dinner, and usually you’re pretty bored by 9:30, so you just go to bed. Day after day is the same.”

“Sunshine (ft. Reggie Watts),” Flight Facilities
“Reggie Watts is just fun. It’s an upbeat vibe, and I liked the album.”

“Take Our Cars Now!” Saves The Day
“It’s a road trip song. My sister and I took this van ride from Iten to the Masai reservation to go on a safari. It took forever and you’re like, we’re definitely lost, but it just brought up memories of this song.”

“Another Travelin’ Song,” Bright Eyes
“The message is travel is not necessarily great. Getting to the airport, getting on the plane, it takes up your whole day, and it’s exhausting. You’re never really doing anything that should tire you out, but you feel just beat when you’re done. It’s a long trip out to Kenya.”

“Conrad,” Ben Howard
“That was just in my head. The whole album’s pretty solid.”

“Until I Open My Wings,” Small Wonder
“Everyone has there own thing. Even in Kenya, I ended up on my own. It’s putting pressure on myself to make smart decisions and really investing in it.”

“Are You What You Want to Be?” Foster the People
“You’re always questioning yourself, ‘Is this what I want to be doing?’ It’s an introspective, soul-searching song, and that was what the trip was about. You go out there to push yourself and find out how good you can be, but at the same time, you’re always like, Is this the right thing to be doing with my life? Because it is pretty selfish and sometimes empty.”

“My Word for It,” Angus & Julia Stone
“I think people have certain perceptions of what they think Kenya is. Those words stuck in my head: ‘Don’t take my word for it.’ It’s just one of those things you have to go and see.”

“Fit Against the Country,” Horse Feathers
“People think that Kenya is a big struggle. But I think it’s tougher in the U.S. We work every day to just get by. In Kenya they’re very happy because they’re not comparing themselves to what they can’t have. They’re just content with what they do have.”

 “Oats in the Water,” Ben Howard
“I saw this Instagram picture that had the first lines on it, about going your own way. ‘I’ll take the long way ‘round.’ It was this lead-in to a journey. And that’s what this trip was: You just have to find your own way, and you don’t necessarily follow in the footsteps of everyone else.”

Filed To: Road Running, marathon

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