Moses trains over the hurdles infrequently, perhaps once a week. His methods are inseparable from his nature. He is precise, maintaining a computer record of all his workouts for the last two years. He is careful, cutting back if he is feeling especially bad or especially good.
He is patient. He waits with deliberate equanimity for his pulse to tell him he is ready to run once more. His workouts take two or three hours. He was educated to be an engineer. He is also an engine. He knows all his working parts. If something takes time, he gives it time.
Moses has been accused of being so protective of the streak that he might arrange to duck a dangerous runner here or there. He has heard that criticism for years. And for years, when the big meets came around, he has been 5 or 10 yards ahead coming off the final turn. Or he hasn't been in the race at all. He sat out the entire 1982 season in order to recover from pneumonia. And last year a knee injury felled him. "My only requirement in deciding whether to go to the starting line is that I am ready to run," he says. "If I am not, I don't. No matter what they say."
And as far as accusations go, he has faced worse. In January 1985, in a celebrated incident, Moses—who gave the Olympic Oath at the 1984 Opening Ceremonies—was charged with soliciting an act of prostitution from an undercover policewoman on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. He was found not guilty. Yes, he had jived with the woman, but instead of meeting her where she had instructed, he had simply driven off. Yet the acquittal could not take away the emotional keelhauling he and his wife, Myrella, had undergone.
"We had tremendous support," he says now. "Personal friends and corporate sponsors were solid. There was no real trauma, no breakdown." Many of his corporate tie-ins and endorsement deals had expired at the end of 1984, and while some sponsors did not renew their contracts with him, Moses says he planned for that. "I still have Adidas," he says. "And Kodak uses me in parts of the world. And I have more time and feel great. I made a lot of money during the years leading up to L.A. I spent three days a week doing ads, books and TV—and it showed. The Olympic final was my slowest ever [47.75] in a major championship."
He meant to devote his newfound time to undistracted track, but on May 10, 1985, going over a hurdle, he twisted his knee in an odd way. When he landed he had injured all three joint tissues you learn about in health class: ligament, tendon and cartilage. He resisted surgery. "We rehabilitated one area at a time. A cartilage can heal if it's near a blood supply. This one was. I was really lucky." The more so because he could still run, though not hurdle. By Christmas he could stretch again in the hurdling position. "It was a year of training without racing," he says.
After his 400s, Moses breaks camp. He drives his Mercedes 300D five minutes to a physical therapy and athletic conditioning center operated by Ken Yoshino. There he sits in a whirlpool bath of cold water, to reduce the risk of muscle inflammation. The water is 52°. Moses shovels in some ice to get it down to 48°. "After about the first three minutes, you don't feel anything anymore," he says. He comes here at least three times a week, and the ice bath isn't the half of it. Since 1982, Moses has submitted to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation in his training.
"PNF is a set of therapy techniques that use the receptors in the muscles—the way muscles talk to each other, really—to help strengthen them and coordinate them," explains Yoshino. "It's complicated, but the keys are that, because muscles are attached at peculiar angles and a lot of movement is rotation, a therapist can work in functional patterns, can simulate the act of running, say, while weightlifting machines can't."
After 15 minutes in the icy pool, Moses dries off and lies supine on a table. Physical therapist Cathy Carreiro raises his left leg, hooks an arm around his ankle and calf and takes a good grip on the toes, rotating his foot to the side. Her other hand is on Moses' lower hamstring. She looks as if she is climbing a juniper tree in a high wind, except that her feet are firmly planted. She stretches the limb toward Moses' head. "Hold," she says and waits. "O.K., pull."
Moses strains against her, trying to force his leg back to the table. The muscles of his hamstring look like coaxial cables. Carreiro prevents any movement. "Relax," she says after a few moments. Then she moves the leg to a new, higher position. "Hold," she says.