Don’t quiet your inner voice.
I’ve been fortunate to spend an inordinate amount of time around many of running’s best athletes, observing how they operate on and off the race course. Watching these stars compete is thrilling in and of itself but the unique insights I’ve gained into what makes the people behind those mind-blowing performances truly excel is exciting, inspiring and revealing in its own special way.
One of the athletes who has surprised, impressed and taught me the most over the years is Desiree Linden. The San Diego native wasn’t on anyone’s radar when she first joined the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project out of college in 2006 but over the course of the last 10 years, she’s patiently established herself as one of the most respected and feared racers in the sport. Obviously she works hard, and her steady progression as an athlete is certainly admirable and noteworthy, but the quiet confidence, unassuming aggressiveness and methodical tenacity Linden operates with when she laces up her racing flats are what have always impressed me most. When Linden races, she’s something of a silent assassin—innocent and unassuming until she decides to go after you, then you damn well better start running for your life.
“My inner voice says 'You are ready for this. Go out and rip some @#%#T heads off. Have fun,’” Linden told innervoice.life recently for this great first-person piece. “It's a very (possibly overly) confident and a bit aggressive inner voice.”
The other key quality Linden possesses in spades is that she’s not easily rattled—by anything—even when she’s not racing. I’ve witnessed this firsthand in press conferences when she’s been served tough interview questions, in the middle of a high-stakes race when she’s facing pressure from her competitors, and even when she’s been on the sidelines recovering from a devastating injury. Linden is a master at owning whatever situation she finds herself in and controlling the things she’s able to control without worrying about the rest. Whether you’re a world-class athlete, struggling writer, a stressed-out employee or an overwhelmed parent, this is a lesson worth taking to heart.
“When things get tough in life, I make sure to focus on the things that I can control and try to fix or improve the situation,” Linden said in the innervoice.life piece. “I’m not a big fan of worrying; I’ve never been able to worry myself out of a tough situation and have things turn out better.”