Coasting – The Importance of Rest

If you’re coasting, you’re either losing momentum or else you’re headed downhill.

I suppose that’s true.

Cyclists don’t get stronger or faster by coasting. The only way to increase performance is to pedal as hard as possible, even on downhill stretches. When you coast, you don’t improve.

But I don’t think coasting is always negative. I think we’re making a mistake to always equate coasting with laziness and waste.

We can get awfully focused on productivity and efficiency, working hard, maximizing potential gains. Nothing wrong with that.

But a cyclist also realizes that it’s imprudent to pedal as hard as possible all the time. A certain amount of coasting is necessary. Perhaps sacrificing some momentum, slowing down, and taking in the scenery is an essential aspect of the journey.

Cycling teaches me a lot about life. Here are a few of the principles that I’ve learned about coasting in cycling and in life.

    * You can’t coast all the time. If you want to keep moving, you have to invest some effort.
    * If you coast at every opportunity, fitness suffers and it’s a lot harder to climb the hills.
    * Rest and recovery are required for maximum long-term performance. You need to monitor energy levels, hydrate, and maintain proper nutrition.
    * After periods of maximum effort, it’s important to rest and recover. You have to pedal uphill, so take it a little easier, coast a bit, on the downhill terrain.
    * Minimal effort yields minimal progress, and constant maximum effort depletes resources and results in burnout. The key is balance—a sustainable pace yields the best long-term results.
    * Enjoy the scenery. Coast, or even stop, to appreciate the view. It’s not all about getting somewhere as quickly as possible.

Life shouldn’t be all about going as hard as possible every minute of every day. There has to be some balance between being productive and enjoying the fruits of productivity. And you have to take time to rest, recharge the batteries, and replenish reserves of physical, emotional, and mental energy. If you constantly work at top speed, you eventually run out of resources.

Anything else? What have you learned or struggled with regarding coasting?