Bill Rodgers – marathon legend


By Janice Elizabeth Berte

Bill Rodgers is best known as one of the all-time top marathoners in the world. He won the Boston and New York marathons four times each and has ranked number one in the world three times. In addition, Rodgers has won many other races over the course of his running career.

Rodgers, who is now 67, has been consistently running for 50 years. He retired from running in marathons in 1996, but continues to run in other events. Rodgers is also a prostate cancer survivor who has lent his support to initiatives to raise funds for cancer awareness.

What kind of racing have you been doing since your retirement?
“I run every day and participate in various races across the country. I still run the Falmouth Road Race, the Bix 7, the Boiler Maker in Utica and the Boston Jingle Bell Run in addition to many other races.”

How much running do you schedule in per week?
“Roughly 40 miles per week, but I vary the distances per day including a one day per week speed workout. Sometimes, I run with my girlfriend, Karen. I also love to run on the grass since it is softer on my feet.”

What was your most challenging race that you have ever done?
“Even though I won the Boston Marathon in 1979, Toshihiko Seko of Japan challenged me greatly during that particular race.”

How has the Boston Marathon changed since you ran it back in the 70s?
“There are more women participating and higher prize money. The starting time has changed to morning as opposed to the old noon start time, and a lot more emphasis on fund raising.”

Who inspired you to run?
“In my youth, there was Bob Schul, 1964 Olympic 500m gold medalist.”

What advice would you give to the younger runners?
“I tell the younger runners to run at altitude because it helps increase maximum oxygen consumption, and to join a team and get a professional coach or agent. I also recommend that they not run three or four marathons in a year.”

What would you do differently in terms of training now that you have such a strong history of running behind you?
“I would only run one to two marathons per year as opposed to the three to four marathons that I used to do, and I have cleaned up my diet significantly. I would also consider training at altitude level.”

Do you think the Americans will ever dominate in marathons?
“Yes, but only the ones that train at high altitudes.”

Do you still belong to the Greater Boston Track Club?
“Yes, I am an honorary member. I am 67 years old and I still love running, but find getting older to be tough and challenging at times.”

How do you train on the roads when New England gets treacherous winters?
“I still go out in the bad weather and shuffle along, and wear YakTrax footwear. On occasion, I will go to an indoor track, but love training outdoors in the fresh air.”

Do you cross train?
“I practice yoga, use light weights and an exercise bike. I also do planks and use a rowing machine as well.”

What is your diet like and do you follow a strict diet?
“I do eat smart and include a lot of fish in my food plan. I am not a vegan, but I have gotten stricter with my diet over the years. I do have a cheeseburger on occasion.”

Why didn’t you move to a state that has better weather or move to Oregon/Colorado where a lot of the elite runners are located?
“I did move to California back in 1974, but had to move back since I didn’t know anyone out there and the job prospects were bleak at that time.”

Did you ever consider coaching?
“I have coached my whole life all over the world and do speaking engagements. When I travel to races, I always coach the runners and give them any advice they may need.”

Do you still have your store at Faneuil Hall in Boston?
“I closed the store in 2012 after being in business for 35 years, but still have the on-line store that sells tee shirts, books and posters. I also wrote a book in 2013 with Matthew Shepatin called “Marathon Man” which can be purchased at:”

For more information about Rodgers visit his website,