Every runner knows the feeling of finding her second wind.
It's a magic sort of strength that allows her to run better, with less effort, than before.
But the second wind doesn't appear of its own accord. The runner must earn it.
For before the runner earns her second wind, every part of her is telling her to stop.
She is in pain. She is losing steam. She does not want to continue.
But she knows that if she keeps going, she will actually gather the strength that she needs.
In latin, there is a phrase:
Vires Acquirit Eundo.
It translates to "She gathers strength as she goes."
It's true. We gather strength as we go. And the secret is knowing that to be true even when it doesn't feel true. So when the going gets tough, you can remember that you are actually gaining strength, even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. Because just knowing that is often enough to power you through to your second wind.
In running, there is a physiological explanation for the second wind: During vigorous exercise, we must break down glucose in order to gain energy. This process releases lactic acid, which causes cramping in our muscles. So in order to prevent cramps, our bodies must burn the lactic acid. And this process of burning lactic acid requires oxygen.
And if you're not breathing in enough oxygen, you run up an "oxygen debt" which causes pain.
So you have two options: You can either expend less energy, or bring in more oxygen.
The first option is easy. You simply stop running, or slow down.
The second option is harder, but more effective. You continue running through the pain, and eventually you will reach "oxygen balance," at which point the oxygen you're bringing in is equal to the amount your body needs to burn the lactic acid you are producing.
You gathered the necessary strength as you went, and now you can run more efficiently than ever.
Hidden within this elegant metabolic process is a lesson:
Strength follows Balance.
When we run up oxygen debt, we feel pain. But when we do the necessary work to restore oxygen balance, we earn our second wind.
When we don't understand how to solve a particular problem, our knowledge and skills are out of balance with the task in front of us. It might feel frustrating or futile to continue.
Again we are faced with two options to restore balance: We can find easier problems to solve, or we can do the work required to meet and solve the problems at hand.
If we choose option two, we emerge stronger than ever, because not only does strength follow balance, but the level of strength is proportional to the difficulty of the path we choose.
Balance does not isolate well.
If you have imbalance in one part of your life, it affects other areas.
If you are financially out of balance (i.e. you spend more than you make), then you are weaker and more powerless in all other areas of life.
If your romantic relationship is out of balance, then you will be more distracted and irritable, and your performance at work may suffer.
If you are professionally out of balance (i.e. you are working in a job that drains your spirit), all of your time outside of work will be tinged with discontent.
If you are emotionally out of balance, then your relationships will suffer, which may cause further emotional imbalance and a nasty downward spiral.
On the flip side, if you achieve balance in any area, there is positive spillover to all other areas.
Get in shape, and you will earn your second wind and a happier relationship.
Build a balanced relationship and you will find it easier to achieve emotional stability.
Achieve emotional stability, and your financial situation will improve (because who needs to spend money on stuff they don't need when they are emotionally fulfilled?).
Find financial balance, and you will feel secure enough to leave that dead end job.
It's a virtuous cycle that strengthens every link along the chain.
The hard part is remembering all of this when they're trying to bring you down. When they challenge you and tell you that you're not enough. When they cut you down and questions your motives. When they tell you that you can't, or that you won't. When they lower their expectations, and raise their voice. When they shrink down to size, and expect you to come with them.
When that happens, you can smile, because you know something they don't:
I gather strength as I go.
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