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?