Second Wave

An interesting phenomenon happens in my swim workouts. After finishing a difficult main set and beginning a secondary set shortly after, I often feel this “second wave”. It’s like I’ve unlocked an untapped storage of energy. Yesterday I swam one of my most challenging practices in a long time: the 4000 yard session was worthy enough to be a medium-level high school workout and wasn’t too far off from the regiments that made me a state finalist.

I’m not sure what the biological (or psychological?) explanation is but it’s something I’ve noticed ever since I started paying attention to my endurance. I liken it to a Formula 1 car’s paradoxical characteristics: the car must be warmed up to perform optimally and the faster you drive, the better it performs. My current normal workout is 2000 yards, and upon completing that I usually feel accomplished and fatigued. Halfway into yesterday’s workout (after my 100 IMs- see workout below), this was exactly what I felt. But I decided to challenge myself and turn what would have been the end of my workout into the halfway point. In the 200s that I finished my workout with, I held some of the fastest paces I’ve had since my high school days.

Something else I’ve noticed is that I can make myself more tired when I’m physically in shape. It’s almost as if, when I’m out of shape (no workouts in a few weeks), my body won’t let me deplete my energy. However, when I’m in shape (3+ workouts a week for at least a month), I can completely drain myself and exhaust everything I’ve got.

What I believe this demonstrates is that limits should be looked at as temporary markers and brick walls to break through. The harder you push yourself, the more you realize you’re capable of. During the grind, you’ll be tempted to give up and be satisfied with the status quo. But if you take a deep breath and persevere with a “make myself better than I was yesterday” mentality, you’ll discover what you’re capable of and thank yourself later. For me, this “second wave” mindset transcends swimming and even athletics. It’s my mindset towards self-improvement: to make myself better one day at a time.


For those of you so inclined, workout details are below:

  • 200 Warmup
  • 3x100s Free: 1) No breath off walls 2) Overkick 3) Both
  • 16×25 Dolphin Kick: 1) 10 kicks 2) 12 kicks 3) 14 kicks 4) Full length (~16 kicks)
  • 100 Free (Transition)
  • 10×100 IM @ 1:45
  • 2×100 Free (Transition)
  • 10×50 Fly: Odd) Overkick Butterfly Even) Normal Butterfly Sprint
  • 100 Free (Transition)
  • 5×200 Free @ 3:00 Descending pace (begin at 2:40, end at 2:15)
  • 200 Warmdown

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