We rode 80 hot, humid and occasionally stormy miles today through Tallahassee to Perry, FL and though we are feeling the miles we are also experiencing a second wind. Second wind is a phenomenon in endurance sports whereby an athlete who is too tired to continue finds the strength to press on. It also accounts for extreme intellectual and creative breakthroughs. There are mixed theories about where the second wind comes from and whether it is just a physical phenomenon or has a mental component as well. Having been an endurance athlete for many years I have observed this phenomenon in my own body and mind multiple times. While It is very much a physical experience, many say you can’t always count on the body to produce it. I personally believe that with a mindfulness practice you can learn to induce your second wind when you need it.
Navy Seals teach the 40% rule: when you think you are done you still have 60% more left in you. The issue is learning to tap into that 60%, where the second wind can be found. Unfortunately, as William James, founding father of modern psychology, noted: most people never push far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second. Times like these will push everyone to their limits and it is ever so important to feel those limits and learn to move beyond them. James wrote that finding the second wind involves “inner work” and “stillness” rather than a “maximum of locomotion” and goes on to emphasize the importance of creating good habits. I would encourage everyone to read more about his theories on the second wind at https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/15/william-james-the-energies-of-men-second-wind/. A simple habit to cultivate to help conjure that second wind when you need it is to learn to be mindful of negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts that trigger a happy, energetic physical response. For athletes that can be an image of the finish line, for others perhaps the image of a child or loved one. Having those positive, happy thoughts at your beck and call will help you dig deeper, surpass your perceived physical and mental limits and find your second wind. 🙏