"Second wind" is an exercise phenomenon, where after hitting a wall, and getting the feeling you need to stop, you are able to rally your body, and find strength again to carry on at good performance.

This is also used as an idiom in life, career...

When consulting dictionaries I mainly get translations which I get the feeling, are more related to the idiom usage and not to the specific sport phenomenon. Things I've found:

  • neuen Aufschwung bekommen
  • frischen Auftrieb bekommen
  • zweiter Frühling
  • Energieschub

I'm also not that happy with, as it isn't specific to this phenomenon. You can always get an energy boost. :)

At this moment, I'm mostly inclined to just describe it, as I did at the beginning of this question, without using a specific word/formulation for it - or is there a better way?

  • 1
    Not sure that I fully understand your description, but would be "zweiter Anlauf" (kind of: second attempt) be suitable? Nov 29, 2023 at 13:34
  • 2
    The Wikipedia article may be helpful if you're having trouble with what this means, but there is no corresponding article in German. I'm actually kind of surprised by this; I thought going on 15km hikes up the side of a mountain was a popular pastime in German speaking regions. In the US, land of the couch potato, not so much.
    – RDBury
    Nov 29, 2023 at 17:19
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    Another wording for the "wall" (used in German as "gegen die Wand laufen") is also "der Mann mit dem Hammer" (the man with the hammer) who hits the athletes. And "die Mauer überwinden" seems to be a good translation Nov 29, 2023 at 20:38
  • 2
    Just a "historical" remark: There's a great movie by Jean-Pierre Melville with Lino Ventura as main actor - the movie is named originally "Le deuxième souffle" / "The Second Wind" which was translated into german as "Der zweite Atem".
    – tohuwawohu
    Nov 30, 2023 at 10:28
  • 2
    We had the same problem when playing Dungeons and Dragons 5e (where "Second Wind" is a fighter power you can use) in a German-language group. The concept of "second wind" just isn't a thing here, and we resorted to just calling it by its English name (and every now and then translated it literally, e.g. "Ich setze meinen zweiten Wind ein" for comedic effect, since that sentence is completely nonsensical in German). According to dnddeutsch.de/uebersetzer, they eventually translated it as "Durchschnaufen" in the German edition of the player's handbook.
    – Heinzi
    Dec 1, 2023 at 8:52

6 Answers 6


While all the previous answers are formally correct, nearly nobody uses these terms in daily life.

As far as I know, „Aufwind“ is mainly used by glider pilots and balloonists because they need this to stay above the ground. If you want to express that you got new energy and things are going easier and faster now you'd say „ich hab' Rückenwind“.

As Dodezv correctly pointed out, „zweite Luft“ is only being used in races. I never heard this in other situations in my whole life.

In my opinion, the most common phrase in sports and gyms for what you mean is „den toten Punkt überwinden" (English: to break/resolve a deadlock). While it is not an exact translation, the focus is on the obstacle one needs to overcome. And once you've done that, you got new motivation and energy.

  • 5
    Rückenwind bedeutet nicht, dass es früher schwieriger war, dass es ein zweiter Wind ist. Rückenwind kann man vom Start weg haben. Nov 29, 2023 at 21:27
  • 2
    @userunknown Das stimmt. Dennoch trifft Rückenwind es besser als Aufwind - das sagt niemand.
    – duise
    Nov 30, 2023 at 6:50
  • 2
    I second this answer. The most common way the idiom is expressed is "sie ist über den toten Punkt". I would not translate it back to English as "resolve a deadlock", it actually means pretty much exactly what the question asked about. Nov 30, 2023 at 12:36
  • The middle paragraph can be considered wrong (neither claims dozdev to the phrase to be only used in races, nor do the DWDS corpora hits confirm that) or biased and spoils the answer.
    – guidot
    Nov 30, 2023 at 15:18
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    "Über den toten Punkt" can be translated as "over the hump" in English. See, e.g. Robert Heinlein, "Starship Troopers".
    – AlDante
    Dec 1, 2023 at 22:10

The word I know is "zweite Luft", which may or not may not be a calque from English*. I know it from a player attribute in FIFA23, so it could actually be not so common. But I would not be surprised by football commentators using it. Googling "zweite Luft" seems to link it almost exclusively to cycling. But this might also be because of cycling being one of the most popular sports centred on endurance.

*(Edit): As by the comments, this phrase seems to be quite old.

  • 14
    I can only say: I never heard it, and would not understand it, unless you explain it like it was explained in the question Nov 29, 2023 at 12:48
  • 2
    I know that phrase and found a recorded use from 1912 via DWDS, see 1st paragraph rather in the middle: gei-digital.gei.de/viewer/image/PPN104357364X/632 as well as a couple of more current ones here: dwds.de/r/?corpus=public&q=zweiten%20Luft I admit, that it may not be understood easily today.
    – guidot
    Nov 29, 2023 at 13:07
  • 1
    @dodezv That´s the one! Nov 30, 2023 at 12:24
  • In the realm of sports, Zweite Luft is definitely correct (if I may say so as a native german speaker).
    – Ridcully
    Dec 2, 2023 at 14:17

While there seems to be a distinct difference between second wind and runner's high in English, I'm not able to find that in German. There is a quite direct translation with Läuferhoch available for runner's high. As well as "zweite Luft" mentioned by Dodezv but before this question I have not encountered this and would not expect people without endurance sport interests to know it.

If it's more of a psychological phenomenon I would also suggest:

neuen Antrieb bekommen

This is more "get a new drive to do something", like when you were not motivated to do something. Or:

frischen Wind in den Segeln haben

which is more of a figurative speech using a sail which catches new wind after a calm.


To approach the phenomenon, you can use »Aufwind«.

[wieder] Aufwind haben
[wieder] Aufwind bekommen

  • Nein, es geht ausdrücklich nicht um Metaphern, wie RDBurys Link unter der Frage zeigt, sondern um ein spezifisches Phänomen die Atmung betreffend. Dec 3, 2023 at 23:10
  • 1
    @userunknown: Zum einen ist »second wind« selbst eine Metapher, zum anderen steht in der Frage »This is also used as an idiom in life, career«.
    – Pollitzer
    Dec 4, 2023 at 6:50
  • Das ist aber invertierte Logik. "Wind" in "second wind" ist eine Metapher, da hast Du wohl recht. "Auftrieb bekommen" ist eine Metapher aus der Luftfahrt. "When consulting dictionaries I mainly get translations which I get the feeling, are more related to the idiom usage and not to the specific sport phenomenon." Auftrieb bekommen ist aber keine spezifische Metapher für das Phänomen, dass nach einem Zwischentief das Luftholen wieder leichter fällt, auch wenn es als Metapher auch darauf passt. Wenn ein Reporter das benutzt, weißt Du nicht, ob er speziell auf die Atmung abstellt. Dec 4, 2023 at 19:49

Very similar would be "die Schallmauer durchbrechen" ("breaking through the sound barrier"), but this is formulated in a very extreme way. It means being able to reach your destination uninhibited after breaking down a few barriers. But it means much more the point in time, the breakthrough. However, it is also implicitly interpreted to mean that someone is more energised afterwards.

A conversation could be

Alice: "How is Charlie's business going?"
Bob: "As far as I know, absolutely outstanding. After his teething troubles, he's finally broken through the sound barrier."

In german:

Alice: "Wie läuft das Unternehmen bei Charlie?"
Bob: "Soweit ich weiß absolut überragend. Nach seinen Startschwierigkeiten konnte er endlich die Schallmauer durchbrechen."

  • 2
    Good suggestion, though this would more correspond "reached critical mass" in English. Nov 30, 2023 at 12:37
  • Nein, es geht ausdrücklich nicht um Metaphern, wie RDBurys Link unter der Frage zeigt, sondern um ein spezifisches Phänomen die Atmung betreffend. Dec 3, 2023 at 23:11

I would just say "zweites wind" but... I'm American and learned English and German simultaneously. While I've spent quite a bit of time in Germany, I've never lived there, so my technical and idiomatic vocab is somewhat lacking not to mention all the stuff that drips out of declarative memory (then when in an immersive environment fills back up as if from a torrent). I'll often speak a literally translated english->german, even homophonic-style literal translations like when I'm driving: "Ich brauch zur gas station" instead of "tankstelle" fur "benzene" I'm basically going to (what to me flipped in english would sound like) "the vapor station". So I have an interesting time occasionally as I sound like a native, accent-less speaker but then say something that and get strange looks, or offend people like when I confuse the word for humid and homosexual while addressing everyone in the familiar.

  • 1
    Nun, wenn dann wäre es "zweiter Wind" wie auch "Benzin" und auch die Tankstelle werden groß geschrieben. Wenn Du schon sagst, dass Du für wörtliche Übersetzungen, die oft nicht passen, notorisch bekannt bist, so sei darauf hingewiesen, dass "Wind" für "Atem, Atemluft" kein übliches Synonym ist, auch wenn Wind mit Luft große Schnittmengen hat, und Luft mit Atem. Wind als etwas, dass der unteren Körperhälfte entweicht, hat man jedoch schon manchmal gehört. Dec 2, 2023 at 20:00

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