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Run… And Find Your Second Wind!

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out if they’ve got a second.  Give your dreams all you’ve got, and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.”

 ~ William James

Tune in to the RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE where this post is the topic of a lively discussion. This is a production of Rave Reviews Book Club.

RW - Aspire to Inspire

William James has been called the Father of American Psychology. This late nineteenth century thinker was a philosopher, psychologist, and was also a trained physician. He was the brother of American novelist, Henry James. The James family of New York was not only wealthy, but renowned for their intellectual prowess and academic achievements. This quote came to my attention by way of a friend who thought I might like it enough to make it the centerpiece of an inspirational post. My friend was correct; I was enamoured immediately!

James’ opening sentence may be construed as being critical of most people, but I interpreted the last sentence as filled with hope and inspiration. He opens with an athletic analogy that runners will understand easily. I’m not a runner, but I think I get the gist of what he’s saying. A runner begins with a goal in mind – be it one to cover a certain distance, or to set a new personal best time – or a combination of the two. He also references a runner’s ‘first wind’ and ‘second wind’. Experts agree that a runner, out of breath and fatigued, comes to the end of their first wind. Sometimes a runner fights through this exhaustion and continues to run at peak performance – hence, the term ‘second wind’.

The experts disagree about the phenomenon known as a runner’s second wind. Some believe its roots are in physiology – a physical/chemical explanation. Others argue that a runner’s second wind is purely psychological in its origins. Based on the wording James uses above, I suggest that he falls into the latter group.

First, James speaks of people not running far enough on their first wind – they make a conscious decision to stop their exertion – perhaps fearful that they risk total collapse if they continue. As I said earlier, I’m not a runner, but I am a walker. Each day, my goal is to briskly walk three miles, or five kilometers. Because of my age and my physical condition, I’m careful about pushing myself too hard. I live on a crescent and one circuit is .5 kilometers, so my goal is ten laps. I remember one morning I felt very sluggish as I set out and I wondered if I could finish. After six laps I was literally dragging myself and I wanted to quit. But I convinced myself I could do one more. At the end of that lap and the next one, I continued to make the same decision. After lap nine I was so exhilarated that I stepped up my pace for the tenth lap!

I experienced myself, what William James is talking about. I did walk far enough to find my second wind! What a feeling! You’d think I had just won the Boston Marathon. In his second sentence he speaks of our dreams instead of physical goals. He’s saying precisely the same thing! If we quit our quest to achieve our dreams because of discouragement or failure – or both; we’ll never find our second wind.

Further, James exhorts us to give our dreams everything we have and refuse to quit, that we will discover energy within ourselves that will amaze us! The morning I walked ten laps, when I was filled with doubt after my first lap, one might ask, where did the energy come from? I’m not in great physical condition – far from it. In my mind, I kept making the decision over and over to push through the exhaustion… and the energy came. I was so excited! It was amazing!

William James is encouraging us to dream and never, ever give up on those dreams. Lesson learned… I’m a believer.

Tune in to the RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE where this post is the topic of a lively discussion. This is a production of Rave Reviews Book Club.

RW - Aspire to Inspire

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

3 thoughts on “Run… And Find Your Second Wind!”

  1. Focus Hope is a walk that is carried out each year to raise awareness of the needs of the poor in the community and to fund a school created to help people get out of poverty and learn technical skills. It was started by Fr. Cunningham and has grown into a big walkathon just like the Boston Marathon. I participated a couple of years ago on behalf of my Black Catholic organization to do our part for the cause. I was there for about 2-3 hours before the actual walk began. When it got started to walk, I realized that I was not up to it. Maybe its because of the work I was doing before and it wore me out. But I felt that I couldn’t do it and bowed out. I was really surprised that I had no stamina to do it and was worried about my health. Sometimes I have moments like this and so I do take it easy. I didn’t have that second wind unfortunately and it forced me to pay more attention to my overall health.

    I missed the show too but still left some tweets about it after hearing the re-run.


  2. Get your endorphins where you can is my motto! 😉 My physical muscles are in pretty bad shape but my mental ones… WOW!!! All my life I’ve dreamt of being a ‘proper’ writer and through sheer bloody-mindedness I’m now not only, that but a publisher of other people’s writing as well – it’s all in the your head. Your will rules your muscles whether mental or flesh & blood it’s just a question of scaling it so you don’t lose heart – I have a physical goal to do 1 thing I don’t want to do every day, and that could be washing my hair, cooking a proper meal or just getting up even though I’d much rather stay in bed and ‘rest’. The usual upshot is that I end up doing more than just that one thing and chances are I enjoy doing it – those James boys knew a thing or two! 😀

    I missed your live show on Monday John – so this is say thank you in kind as I wasn’t tweeting while you were talking… 😉


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