Every ride is a chance to push yourself and improve, but if you’ve been SWERVING for a while and have a past PR (aka personal record, or all-time high SWERVE score) you’re chasing down, it can be quite a challenge. So how can it be done?
Instructor Jenna Arndt shared her top 3 tips:
1. Challenge yourself with resistance. Making small, incremental changes during your heavy hills will pay off with points!
2. Races and pushes should be challenging but don't burn yourself out on them. A PR ride isn't a track meet, it's a marathon!
3. Use the recovery periods during the ride. Take time to reset and flush out.
We also asked a few avid SWERVERS for their take:
"I think you have to evaluate where you personally feel strongest on the bike based on your body (everyone's is different!) and capitalize on that. For me, that's typically out of the saddle climbs and jogs where I can optimize a consistent speed and gear – I've noticed that others prefer to do those same segments in the saddle. Also, during flush-out songs at higher speeds, I'll now add a gear to what I think I could maintain at that higher RPM – if I can't, I'll dial it back down. Jenna has said ‘you won't know til you try,’ and I've taken that to heart." – Lily
"I think a big thing to stress is that the score is about an individual’s class. While it’s fun to out-score other people, a PR is really about comparing your score to your best previous performance." – Dan
“I set my intention for the day and really focus on what my body needs to get there. For me, it’s a good night’s sleep, high protein diet, and working on mobility/stretching before class. Having my FitFam around during class helps – and of course, an amazing instructor who can sense when you need encouragement and cheers you on.” – Kris
"Trying to maintain a consistent/constant output in the class will get you the most points. And really capitalize on climbing on heavy hills." – Roger
"Prioritizing a sustainable pace/power output and rapid recovery from pushes (ie. remembering that while sprint wins are great, most of your score comes from the time between the sprints) and scheduling so you can really leave it all on the bike (it's hard to PR when you know you've got to work a full day afterward)" – Ben
“Being well rested, having some good fuel in my system, pacing myself, riding at higher gears, and instructor motivation” are all keys for Deepa
“It depends on the time of day when you prefer working out. My body is only awake in the evening so I have to listen to that. Also, hearing favorite songs halfway through the class is always extremely motivating, as is riding with friends!” – Emma
Lastly, one of those avid riders, Devin, responded with a full-on manual, and it’s too good not to share (almost) the whole thing:
PR’ing is a mentality. It starts with engaging with your goals at the start of your ride all the way until the last sprint of your last song.
Ride with your friends. Having that extra support will give you the extra incentive and adrenaline to help your team reach their goals as well as your own. Also, if your “strongest” friend is OK with it, try to ride next to them and compare scores as you go. You may find yourself in a one on one competition that pushes you both to PR!
Keep the gear heavy, but not at maximum effort. There’s a sweet spot of effort between your sprints and swerve to the beats where you can keep your cadence and gear high without risking your stamina for the course of the ride. Keep playing with the balance between gear and RPM until you find a cadence that allows you to rack up points over the course of the whole ride. And of course, the more you do this, the stronger you look for that sweet spot, the higher your capacity for high gear becomes! This is what truly makes you a stronger rider.
Prioritize resistance over speed for sprints. Turn the gear up a full turn ahead of your sprint. This will increase your capacity to ride at higher gears over the long term, accelerate your score faster than increasing speed, and keep your body ready for subsequent hills.
Focus on your breathing when the going gets tough. After the second HIIT cycle, you may find yourself starting to lose stamina. Very commonly, riders will over-exert themselves too early in the ride and start to rapidly fall off by the last few songs of the ride (especially after upper body). When you find your heart rate climbing to its upper limits (180+ BPM for men) and struggling through every sprint, close your eyes and focus on moderate inhales and exhales for a few breaths to lower your heart rate.
Arrive early. Use those minutes before class starts to do your warmup. Ride at a moderate gear at moderate to fast speeds to kickstart your legs into motion and earn those extra points you deserve!
Don’t double or triple the day before. This is advice mostly for power riders. You’ll find you get that PR after a series of double or triples in one week and then switching your riding cadence to single rides with a day of rest in between. No amount of foam rolls, theraguns, massages, and sleep will help you recover faster than giving your legs at least a day of rest.
Thanks to our riders for contributing! Now go chase that PR, team - good luck!