That second wind will blow inWhen I was a junior in high school, our basketball coach strongly suggested that we run cross country during the fall to be in extraordinary shape for the upcoming basketball season.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
When I was a junior in high school, our basketball coach strongly suggested that we run cross country during the fall to be in extraordinary shape for the upcoming basketball season. So every day the entire team trudged four miles before breakfast, four miles right after school and another four miles after a short break so that, at 16 or 17 years old, we looked like concentration camp survivors.
By the time basketball season rolled around, we might have been in shape but we were also worn out and wearing uniforms that appeared to be designed for John Candy or Kirstie Alley, post-eating binge.
Of course, this is the same basketball coach who took a baseball bat to the back of a young man in physical education class and dropped him to his knees because he reportedly was not “responding quickly enough,” to instructions; telling you everything you need to know about a man who was never reprimanded simply because he was too successful and because his victim was considered a troublemaker and that’s life in America.
When my senior year rolled around, I was working and going to school simultaneously and told the basketball coach that I would not be running cross country. He immediately told me that I would not be playing basketball, but I ended up playing anyway because, when push came to shove in our little hometown, he needed me if he wanted to be successful. By then, because I hadn’t run 12 miles a day, instead of being burned out I was fresh, ready to go and had a good season.
I bring this up because cross country was my first major introduction to the art of “catching your second wind.”
Now, to me, catching your second wind means coming to the end of your rope in terms of physical or mental exhaustion and then suddenly getting another burst of energy to carry you through, kind of like Popeye before and after spinach.
Since then, I’ve experienced getting a second wind in just about everything from rodeo, my occupation, happy hour and Thanksgiving dinner to having to spend way too much time at a mall, at a wife’s insistence, which is at least as bad as a concentration camp.
Scientists will tell you that what really happens during this second-wind phenomenon is you get a boost from your adrenal glands which speeds up your heart rate and increases your breathing capability because adrenaline opens up the blood vessels and allows for an increase in oxygen changeover.
You see, every cell in our body is equipped with these little power plants called mitochondria. Some cells with a high energy demand, such as heart muscle cells, have thousands of mitochondria. Other cells with low energy needs may only have a few dozen.
The body is also equipped with specific energy-producing methods and so your aerobic capacity is determined by the volume of air moving in and out of your lungs, the efficiency of the oxygen exchange between your lungs and the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells, the effectiveness of your heart in circulating blood throughout the body, and the ability of mitochondria to function efficiently. In other words, it helps to be in shape.
One time, while living in the Los Angeles basin, I was in Rapid City, S.D., on a business trip and needed to get back to Manhattan Beach the next day for my son’s soccer game. So I drove from Rapid City to Los Angeles, 19 hours and 1,326 miles, nonstop, which required a couple of second winds.
Most importantly, I think the second-wind phenomenon was created for much greater purpose because, you see, life isn’t always a bed of roses and sometimes people can get a little down on their luck and if you’re one of those people, it never hurts to remember what singer/songwriter Billy Joel said in his song, “You’re Only Human.”
“Don’t forget your second wind. Wait in your corner until that breeze blows in.
“Don’t forget your second wind. Sooner or later you’ll feel that momentum kick in.”
So hang in there. It will come.
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.