In further explication of their life, she reveals that every morning David wakes her with a cup of tea.
"Get that down," says Moorcroft, descending from a now quiet bedroom. "Finally a virtue on record."
David and Linda were married in 1975. Moorcroft taught school near Leicester and made the progress in his running that let him reach the Olympic 1,500 final at Montreal in 1976. "I was running uninhibitedly then," he says. "Enjoying it without really appreciating it, if that makes any sense."
It does in the context of what followed, five years of off-and-on injury. He had run the mile in 3:57.1 in 1976. A back injury plagued him in 1977, and he did only 4:02.0 that year.
The back eased enough to allow his Commonwealth win in 1978, but in 1979 he began moving up to the 5,000, and the longer distance hurt him first in the calves. "They would simply lock solid after a race, and even with ice and ultrasound, it was still a week before I could run freely again," he says. This was compartment syndrome; the sheaths around the calf muscles were restricting blood flow. The condition had also slowed John Walker and Mary Decker Tabb. Running thereafter was a struggle.
The Moscow Olympics loomed. "Nineteen eighty was my most unbalanced year," he says. "I was torn between the 1,500 and 5,000 and conscious that if I chose the 5,000, it would be seen as being scared out of the 1,500 by Ovett and Coe. [In fact, the move up had long been planned by Moorcroft and his coach, John Anderson.] I didn't teach or work at all that year, just trained, and it drove me daffy. I was paranoid about possibly not doing well at the Olympics, but didn't really know why I wanted to win there. There was lots of pressure, imposed pressure that I let get to me. Moscow itself was a disaster."
A stomach bug went through Moorcroft at just the wrong time. He was ninth in his 5,000 semifinal. "And I ran even worse after the Games."
It was a time of disillusion. In response, Dave and Linda and a friend, Terry Colton, spent four months driving a motor home 13,000 miles back and forth across the U.S. Colton is a legendary accumulator of running mileage as well. "We drove eight-hour days," recalls David, "and he ran 20 miles a day. I had to get running more."
The road training didn't bother his calves. He ran in several road races, getting seconds behind Thom Hunt and Alberto Salazar and, in a San Francisco indoor mile, Steve Scott. And he thought about things. "I'd had no ambition before 1976 and 1980 except the Olympics. It was winning I cared about. When I was injured, I began to realize what I'd had, how much I wanted just to do my best. I came to see what an extrinsic aim trying to win the gold medal had been. If that's your concern, it's not who you beat or how you do it, it's simply winning. I made a decision to spend the rest of my career on intrinsic, controllable things I could do without having to be told I had to do them on a certain track at a certain date. At one point I'd about decided to give up the track for the roads in America. But I knew I hadn't done my best. I had to try one more time."
Yet when he stepped on the track in 1981, his calves seized again. "By September of that year there wasn't a lot of choice," he says. "It was either have an operation or get resigned to jogging around. It was do or die. The doctors really made no guarantee of help."