Champion Form

By now you’ve heard the news…earlier today, through freezing temps, driving rain, and a strong headwind, Desiree Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. And since I recorded the entire event, I thought it would be fun to watch some parts in slo mo and pause the recording periodically to study and analyze her running form. After all, at five-foot-two, she doesn’t exactly the longest legs I’ve ever seen, so I wanted to know how she did it.

Eye Gaze

The first thing I noticed, was that (especially towards the end of the race) she looked straight ahead while she ran. She didn’t spend a lot of time looking around her, or turning her head side-to-side. She just kept her eyes on the road in front of her. She also didn’t look down, or look at her feet (which I do a lot…unfortunately). She’s able to do this for long periods of time because of her strong core. I read an article where she stated that planks are one of her favorite exercises, and she stressed that a strong core was one key to running well.

Flight Time

Another thing I noticed, especially when I paused the recording at just the right moment, was that her flight time was outstanding! When the camera would shoot her running from the side, you could really see it.

Desiree Linden running in the Boston Marathon
Desiree’s feet are not touching the ground in this photo.

When she stretched her forward leg out with each stride, there was a short period of time where she was completely in the air, before her other foot hit the ground. And she also didn’t heel strike…I noticed that she did it only when running down a hill.

Arm Swing

Another thing I looked for was what she did with her arms. It can be tiring to swing your arms for two hours but hers remained strong. Even during the final stretch, she kept her arms right next to her body, somewhat low, and really used them to propel herself along.


And finally, I was really interested in her running cadence. I had to put the recording in slo-motion to be able to count it accurately. I did this several times, and used the time counter in the upper left-hand corner of the television screen to ensure accuracy. No matter which part of the race I checked, her running cadence was a steady 185-190 steps-per-minute. Count for yourself!

Notice that in the final frame of the video, she’s once again, floating in mid-air!!

So here’s what I learned from studying Desiree’s amazing marathon performance today:

  • Build a strong core in-between runs and while running, keep your eyes focused in front of you and don’t look down at your feet!
  • Land on your mid-foot and push off with your back foot, to increase the amount of time you stay in the air before your other foot hits the ground.
  • Swing your arms low and keep them close to your body, and use them as an integral part of the process.
  • And practice increasing your cadence gradually, until you can maintain 185-190 steps-per-minute on a consistent basis.

Did you notice anything else from watching Desiree today? Comment below-I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Keep running to the beat!



One Reply to “Champion Form”

  1. I am always really impressed with people who can get into things like cadence and where you’re landing with your foot–it feels impossible to me–I feel like i just run the way I run. Maybe I will have to work with a running coach or something one day!
    Anyway, really enjoyed watching Desi yesterday, she was INCREDIBLE, especially in that weather!


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