It’s been several months since my first attempt at running and finally, I don’t feel as if I’m going to die each time.

That’s progress people. Major progress.

I am currently running 3.25 K (or 25 mins straight), a bit past the half way mark to my goal of “couch to  5 K.”

For the first 7/8 weeks or so, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was running on an outdoor treadmill. My pounding heart and limited lung capacity felt wholly incommensurate with the nominal ground I was covering. Every run was hard, like really hard – and I seriously doubted that would ever change.

I would interrogate every self-proclaimed runner I met with sweeping questions like “will this ever not be grueling?” and “tell me again why running is awesome.”

Runners are liars or at best masochists, I muttered not-so under my breath.

Then, once again, something happened.

I reached a long awaited goal. Not my ultimate goal… but the next big goal on my docket. I ran further and longer with more breath control and more ease than I ever had… after months of dipping my toes into and around my threshold – I sailed right through it.

I was amazed at what my body was able to do and I continue to be amazed by its capacity. For a short while, I allowed myself to believe I had flipped a switch or shifted gears which allowed this new feat to “happen.”

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is I’ve been laying down the hard, tedious, bone-sore groundwork to make this “happen” for months. Endurance isn’t an app you can download. You’ve got to earn that beast. And after many long weeks of barely managing to run for 10 minutes straight – I’m doing 25 minutes of pure jog like a champ.

A slow and sweaty champ.

As much as I have resisted it, this is a life lesson I desperately need to internalize.

I’m a “go-hard-or-go-home,” “in-it-to-win-it,” “make-it-work” kind of gal. But life isn’t always hospitable to that kind of bravado. Sometimes going hard doesn’t take me “home.” In fact, I lose often and with some regularity.

Living a life well, with purpose and intention, has very little to do with “gunning through it” and winning. It has way more to do with the simple, boring stuff like showing up daily. Doing reps on life’s chin-up bar. Sticking it out through the hard stuff even when it’s really, really hard.

I’ll be darned if that’s not the stuff that character is built from.