Call it just a crazy dream of mine, but I’ve always wanted to run the Los Angeles Marathon. Granted, I’m a fairly consistent runner and try to eat as healthy as possible, but I’ve just never thought that running a full marathon would be something I could actually do, especially when competing against some of the best runners in the world. However, recently, my perspective has been drastically changed since learning more about the legendary career of professional marathon runner and active Honda L.A. Marathon coach, Rod Dixon. His seventeen year career as a professional runner is impressive, to say the least.
A bronze medal Olympian himself, (and later coach of the 1996 Fiji Olympic Team) Dixon has achieved nearly every major goal in professional marathon running. He holds international records for his participation in the Pacific Conference Games with two gold medals under his belt, while also being a two-time World Master Champion. Additionally, he is the internationally recognized champion of the 1500 m and holds records in his native New Zealand, Great Britain, France, and in the United States.
Dixon’s speed as a professional runner is on a level all its own, which is why he’s ranked the #1 Roadrunner in the United States, even after retiring. However, many loyal fans of Dixon’s inspiring career might say his greatest feat as an athlete was his impressive finish at the New York City Marathon in 1983. To just finish the Marathon is an accomplishment any individual can be proud of, but Rod Dixon didn’t just finish, he won. And with a finishing time of 2.08.59, his race is still one to be discussed.
For Rod Dixon, one of the most rewarding aspects of winning the New York City Marathon was having the New York Runners Club, the New York City Athletic Club, as well as his own children at the finish line. In an interview conducted on October 14, 2010 by Matt Morris of indyrunners.org, Dixon reflected on having so many supporters awaiting his victory, especially fellow runners. During the interview, he said, “I feel very honored to have them remember…They have said to me the picture of me at the finish line is the significant moment of their race. They’ve had some incredible finishes and some great, great efforts, and yet wonderfully, they feel that the one moment stamped an image of New York.”
Since retiring, Dixon has channeled this same positive energy and dedication into coaching other runners, especially in his inspiring role as part of the Honda L.A. Marathon staff and with his running tips section of the Marathon’s website.
One of Dixon’s articles that particularly struck me because of its universal message was “Rod Dixon’s Nine Principles For Runners.”
The list (in order as it appears):
- 1. “Set Realistic Goals”
- 2. “Develop Good Habits”
- 3. “Balance Your Activities”
- 4. “Gradual Progression”
- 5. “Stress and Recovery”
- 6. “Consistency”
- 7. “Prepare For Success”
- 8. “Be Prepared to Test Yourself”
- 9. “Savor the Benefits of Being a Runner”
What I love most about Dixon’s advice is that it doesn’t take the enjoyment out of running. Instead, it encourages it. Running, as well as habitual exercise, doesn’t have to be a completely solitary activity, according to Dixon, as running with others provides positive, constructive experiences in the development of an athlete.
Recalling his own experiences, Dixon also wrote about the group running experience in a post on the Honda L.A. Marathon website, entitled “Tips From Coach Rod–Workout With Your Family.” Dixon explains, “Running and jogging with the family is becoming a sight I see more and more in the community, it’s great to see parents encouraging their kids to exercise and once a family makes a habit of being active together, the routine and fun will generate consistency for exercise and physical activity.”
In order to encourage this active lifestyle for children, Dixon has started the Dixon’s Kids Marathon to do just that. The organization teaches children, ages 7 to 12 years old, just how vital a balanced, healthy lifestyle is while growing up. To stress the importance of physical and mental health, (also having an emotional, confidence-building influence on children’s development) the Kid’s Marathon also teaches creative, entertaining techniques for children. Children are educated in health classes to develop their own individual sense of health, and running activities also help reinforce the foundations of teamwork.
Dixon’s organization has even taken their efforts one step further–directly getting children involved in marathons all over the world. Children from Rod Dixon’s Kids Marathon participate in several events, including:
- The Canberra Marathon (in Canberra, Australia)
- The Adidas Auckland Marathon (in Auckland, New Zealand)
- Kid Rock Las Vegas (in Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Litchfield Hills Road Race (in Litchfield, Connecticut)
- Honda L.A. Marathon (in Los Angeles, California
The passion that Rod Dixon has for running, coupled with the dedication that he has had to children, really is impressive and inspiring. So much, that I’m really considering the L.A. Marathon next year. Thank you for being an inspiration, Mr. Dixon. For your tireless work in the community, we’re awarding you a TGiS Gold Star! You deserve it!
- For additional biographic information on Rod Dixon, please visit www.lamarathon.com