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Old 06-25-12, 07:40 AM   #1
bluefoxicy
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I'm too slow, doing something wrong...

Okay so I've been wearing Vibram FiveFingers KSO a lot, and I taught myself proper barefoot run technique--strike on the ball of the foot, plant the heel. A heel strike creates a brake and is rough. I mean I had the shoes, may as well, right?

Two things I noticed here.

First off, my calves hurt. The tendons and muscles are getting a lot of work. My arch and ankles are getting worked too, but they don't hurt. My calves HURT, the tendons are stretching and the muscles are controlling my landing with every step (all that stuff down there needs to be pulled somewhat taut or it won't supply shock absorption).

Second, I'm fast. I mean I'm no Jamaican, but I've got to be nearing or breaking 15mph. I hate walking, it's slow; I used to run whenever when I was a kid, hence bicycles being so awesome--they're fast. But I could only ever manage 8mph, almost, not quite; 6mph is tough and exhausting. Now I'm doing fair sprints at ridiculous speeds (let's not talk about running downhill), and that came instantly with a technique correction.

I tend to bike around 12-15mph, though 18mph is pretty leisurely on perfectly flat ground, and a slight incline will keep me at 8-10mph. Sprints take me to nearly 25mph on level ground, usually I can break 25-26 downhill; an extreme hill can get me to 30 or even 40, but that's all gravity--I'm talking about the kind of hill you don't climb because you have to be standing over the handlebars to keep the bike from flipping over backwards.

This makes no sense. It takes about 4 times as much energy to walk as it does to bike at the same speed, yet my sprint speed is only what 50% faster on a bike for the same effort? It should be 300% faster. And I can run now...I used to not be able to go very far at all, but I can keep the power going for a good block or three; when I bike, I rest a LOT, even in between strokes for a half a second, often pedaling hard for 3-5 seconds and then resting (spinning sometimes, even still pushing but not nearly as strong; other times just coasting) for 2-3.

Perhaps it's the same problem: all technique. I'm not shifting my body correctly as I pedal, I'm not pushing my muscles with the right amount of force at the right time, I'm not following my strokes through, not assuming the correct posture, not pulling up with my legs (clipless pedals~), etc?

I do push/pull when I climb hills or want FAST acceleration--one leg goes down, the other deliberately pulls up, then as the power wanes on each side I swap which is pushing and which is pulling. I don't do that most of the time, though; usually I just push the pedals blindly, with no thought to specific technique.

... I'm losing half my power and doing way too much work, aren't I?
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Old 06-25-12, 10:23 AM   #2
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Of course your calves hurt. Keep that up and you can injure yourself, RSI. Counting paces, try walking 100, running 50, etc. Gradually shift that until you're running 100, walking 50, etc. Stretch after your run. Cut back the running until your calf soreness goes away, or almost away. It's not OK. Don't reach forward with your foot. Make contact right under your body. Try for a sense of falling forward and just catching yourself. Plenty of follow-through behind you. Let your foot come up high with a well-bent knee. Let your hips move forward in a straight line, not up and down.

As far as the biking goes, it takes time to get stronger. It's probably not your technique as much as just lack of time in the saddle. Let distance=strength be your motto. When you've worked up to riding 150 miles/week, you'll be plenty strong enough for ego purposes even if the studly still ride past you. 80 mile rides are the ticket to strength. All that interval and strength training stuff is unnecessary. Just ride long hilly routes and it's all taken care of automatically. You want to see lung bits on your shoes once a week.

Power necessary to produce a speed on the bike goes up as the cube of the speed. It's really hard to get a 1 mph faster average. 2 mph faster is a heroic change. An 18 mph cruise on the flat is a good pace. There aren't many people who can cruise solo at 20. 19.3 was all I could ever do, hour after hour. 25 is the realm of the very talented and well trained.

On technique, try to hold your upper body completely still. You shouldn't move back and forth. Your front wheel should also be completely still. Push forward at the top, pull back at the bottom. Try not to have a sense of pushing down. Don't pull up on the backstroke, just unweight the pedal. Let your heel drop naturally, don't tense your calf. Try for a sense of pedaling with your heel cups. One can improve pedal stroke by pedaling very, very fast in a very low gear. If you try that, have a sense of a cushion of air between the bottom of your foot and the insole of your shoe. Try to pedal just one perfect stroke. Then try for 3 in a row, etc.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:07 AM   #3
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Try for a sense of falling forward and just catching yourself. Plenty of follow-through behind you. Let your foot come up high with a well-bent knee. Let your hips move forward in a straight line, not up and down.
Find a grassy steep hill and run down it. We used to do this in track and it was pretty consistent to see the people with the quickest run down the steep hill had the fastest top speed.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
As far as the biking goes, it takes time to get stronger. It's probably not your technique as much as just lack of time in the saddle. Let distance=strength be your motto. When you've worked up to riding 150 miles/week, you'll be plenty strong enough for ego purposes even if the studly still ride past you. 80 mile rides are the ticket to strength.
150/week is a lot. I was biking 16 miles/day to work every day last year for months, about 350 miles per month. Topped 420-ish? That's barely even 100 per week.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:51 AM   #5
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150/week is a lot. I was biking 16 miles/day to work every day last year for months, about 350 miles per month. Topped 420-ish? That's barely even 100 per week.
And exclusively short rides. If you were doing that plus a long ride at the weekend - a ride of in excess of three hours - you'd make more rapid progress.
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