"But in terms of training..."
"We've often said if we sat independently and wrote a month's training for Dave, 95 percent of it would be the same."
The fundamental tenet of Moorcroft's training is inescapably simple. "Races are won by the fast," says Anderson. "And here I was presented with this wee boy at 15, maybe 5'6" and eight stone [112 pounds], who said, 'I've got one pace and no changes.' We had to cultivate the speed factor, but you don't learn that in five minutes, especially if you're a late developer. So we set the pattern in training for developing acceleration. We recognized that eventually the 5,000 and 10,000 would be his best distances, but we had to avoid the traditional cycle of plod in winter, race on the track in summer, then give it all away for the grind on the road and sod the rest of the year. That just wasn't on."
Instead, Anderson devised schedules that had Moorcroft doing fast running on grass or the track a couple of times a week nearly year round. "Specificity is a word I quite like," Anderson says. "Dispense with the inessentials, keep to the vitals. Those are speed in all its manifestations, such as pure sprint, sustained speed and change of pace. It is essential to link them in the body. Then there is endurance, the ability to keep going, at a high level."
All these elements are worked at consistently throughout the year under Anderson, a departure from the cycles made popular by New Zealand's Arthur Lydiard, wherein runners do weeks of straight mileage before spending time exclusively on hills and finally going to the track. "Dave, therefore, can come out in the winter and race because his speed work is never dropped completely."
Stacked in a corner of Anderson's office are bundles of scientific papers. "I've tried to interpret the findings of the best physiologists and translate them into sound practices," says Anderson. "That's made me a radical. We've turned some coaching sacred cows on their ear."
For one, Anderson dismisses the stretching that most runners do. "It's rubbish," he says. "The received idea that by touching your toes you lengthen the fibers in your hamstrings is wrong. Soft tissue stretching like that is a learned skill and doesn't carry over into running. Dave requires a flexibility, a joint mobility, but running fast is the right kind of stretching for him."
The world-record holder mutely demonstrates his suppleness by reaching toward his toes. His fingertips get down to about midshin.