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I’m no running scientist (if that’s a real job I want it), but I have observed a curious occurrence as of late. It used to be my energy would plummet with every mile, leaving me wobbly after the 3.3 mile loop in the park and sore for days. I wasn’t pacing myself or stretching after, and didn’t realize I was going about it wrong because it hurt and running’s supposed to hurt. Pain!

The more I read about conditioning, the more I learned. Once I started running slower, I was able to increase mileage and completely eliminate walking breaks. That feeling that my muscles were turning to cement and my were lungs straining for oxygen went away. With endurance came the ability to make it up steep hills without wheezing. Even better, the second wind at last made my acquaintance right at the top of the hill.

Now I almost always get a second wind after an incline, a fresh burst of strength and energy. Where it comes come, I don’t know. I like this second wind and try not to take it for granted. More and more I continue beyond my old stopping point and I run until it hurts. Then a little more.

Earlier this year I began noticing a third wind sometime between mile 7 and 9. It sort of feels like cheating, like I’m stealing someone else’s second wind. I don’t trust it, but I take it. It’s mine.

I’ve only recently found myself running daily. I used to take a day off after 2 days of running. Now breaks come maybe every 5 days simply because I don’t feel like I need them. The third day in a row is when fatigue hits. As long as I stretch for more than a quick toe-touch, the fourth day is like running giddy at recess. These are my wild card days when I allow myself to do as much or as little as I want to. Sometimes these end up being my longest runs of the week, other times I take more scenic shortcuts.

Day five is pure experimentation. If there’s a fifth wind for me out there, I’m going to find it. I credit yoga and not stretching like a 5-year-old with my best year of running yet. And my magical ancient crumbling running shoes, but I’m not ready to write about those yet. That 1400th mile is within striking distance. Maybe that’s the fifth wind. Maybe every 1400th mile feels like flying.

Have you noted a pattern in your 2nd, 3rd, 4th winds? Find your 5th yet?