A Lesson In Running-The Infamous Second Wind

Have you ever been running and felt extremely dead tired throughout most of the run, but towards the end you get this crazy second wind and feel like you can take on anything?

This happened to me this past Saturday on my 7 miler. Typically when I go for long runs I am mentally prepared and know how to set my pace straight so I don’t go all out in the beginning only to feel crushed by the end. So this particular feeling has never hit me as hard as it did Saturday.

I started out and immediately my legs (mostly my thighs) felt like bricks. Heavy. Lifting dead weight that did not want to move. Over and over, pounding at the pavement. Every stride felt like 50 strides. What was going on? I had barely started out and I was not running that fast at all. There was no way I was going to complete 7 miles without keeling over.

But, around mile 4 my legs finally loosened up, felt as though they were getting lighter and wanted to pound at the pavement faster and stronger. My whole body felt lighter in general. I was getting this so called “second wind.” And it was more noticeable than ever before.

Oddly enough, the day before this run I read a Q&A section in this month’s issue of Runner’s World that tackled this issue. The following statements are taken directly from the March 2010 issue of Runner’s World.

“Q: I often get tired midrun, but then I get a second wind. Is this all in my head?”

“A: No, it’s real. Your body relies on both carbs and fat for fuel during exercise; carbs are the most accessible energy source, while fat is the most abundant. in the beginning of a run, your primary fuel source is carbohydrates. After about 30-40 minutes of a moderately intense run, your body also starts tapping into your stored fat. That’s when you may get a surge of energy, because the simultaneous use of both energy sources may temporarily make the effort of running seem easier.”-Matt Harber, PH.D., is an assistant professor at Ball State University’s Human Performance Laboratory.

I found myself thinking about this particular question when I got my second wind during my run. I think the fact that this run was so hard in particular was due to my irresponsible margarita drinking the night before 😉 I only had one, but also followed it up with a glass of wine. The two, combined with the heavy dinner I ate, made myself feel sluggish. I was running on my nasty carbs (making it difficult to run because I was not full of complex, good carbs like whole grains and veggies), and then when I got my energy back, my body was using fat and carbs simultaneously.

The human body is a fascinating thing. Even more reason to treat it well and only put good, healthy, wholesome things into it (limit the margs, Sarah). You need to respect and treat your body as a temple. After all, it’s what’s keeping you moving and going every second of the day.

Reward it for the amazing things it does. i.e. don’t fill it with margaritas and wine and then expect it to perform a stellar run. You live and learn.

Now, off to fill my body with wholesome cheese and crackers from Whole Foods 🙂 I know my body digs that.

Tomorrow’s Agenda:

  • 8 mile run in the AM
  • See Valentine’s Day??
  • Stanford bball game
  • Apples to Apples and wine night

Things are looking good 🙂

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One thought on “A Lesson In Running-The Infamous Second Wind

  1. natalielynn says:

    I love the second wind! I couldn’t agree with you more about what you said about the connecting between what we put into our body and its performance: “The human body is a fascinating thing. Even more reason to treat it well and only put good, healthy, wholesome things into it….You need to respect and treat your body as a temple. After all, it’s what’s keeping you moving and going every second of the day.”

    Thanks for the reminder!

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