- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
To build speed, Moorcroft sprints sets of 60-and 100-meter dashes. For sustaining it he runs sets of 150s. For "linking" speed with endurance he runs 300s and 600s, not very many (four to six) but always very hard. "Over the years Dave took his workout of four 600s from 100 seconds to 81 for each repetition, and effectively destroyed that session because the effect of 80 seconds of running is different from 100. We had to go to repeated 1,000s."
There is little emphasis in Anderson's schedules on a gradual progression of improvement. "The human body doesn't progress that way." He slashes at the air, great sawtooth shapes. "The body improves in peaks and valleys on the graph. The thing to do is let effort dictate pace. Your guide is the ability to sustain quality. If you practice fast, you run fast. If you practice slow, you run slow."
By June of 1982, thanks to the calf operation, Moorcroft had had his best winter and spring training since 1976. He was running his six 1,000-meter repetitions in 2:26 each or 3:54-mile pace. "It was patently obvious," says Anderson, "that when he got into a race he would run out of this world."
Moorcroft stands. He must leave for another appointment, but the coach isn't done with this visitor yet. He takes him for coffee to a nearby shop. "Here's your usual, Mr. Anderson," says the waitress, placing before him a tea cake toasted so rigorously that it resembles a clay pigeon. Its crusty blackness is running with butter. Anderson looks a little uncomfortable. "My departure from reason is diet," he says.
Speaking of departures, says the visitor, why did Moorcroft decide to lead in Oslo, after a lifetime of staying off the pace?
"Most of that career had been in the mile, of course," says Anderson, "where the gamble of leading is much higher. In the 5,000 the decision was more sensible because there is more time to extend the opposition. But beyond that, it was just time to find out what was there. We've had talks all the way along about no performance being the end, but only a part of the pursuit of still better ones. The philosophy of never being satisfied and the practice of running fast combine to reject the logic of just running to win and get you on toward perfection."
His words recall Moorcroft's own answer. "It had its own logic," he had said. "Its own daffy logic."
"I knew he'd do well in that 5,000," Anderson says, "and Dave knew, too. But you know Dave, he was after me not to talk about it. He'd won the Revco 10,000 on the road in Cleveland in May by a great margin. In June he ran 3:49.34 for the mile behind Scott and Sydney Maree in Oslo. 'You're in absolutely staggering form,' I said. 'You could beat anyone in the world.' Normally he'd stammer and demur. Instead he said, 'You may be right.' I nearly fell off my chair."
Back in his office, Anderson digs through dusty papers. "It must be clear that I'm delighted with David," he says. "If ever I've had a perfect coaching relationship, this is it." He takes out a thick gray file with Moorcroft's name on it in fading black ink. It is filled with training schedules and correspondence. Here is a letter of regard from Bob Moorcroft and the first schedule Anderson had sent to David in 1969, which asked for four stiff 660s. And there is the letter back from the 16-year-old David, in a blocky, ordered hand: "I'll put in all the work you advised and hope that my future progress serves as repayment for your efforts."
"He always was a nice kid," says Anderson.