Running in the rain: Four lessons

Here are four lessons that pulse through my head as I pass frosty windshields on my winter runs.

LAST FRIDAY, intermittent rain and hail crashed against the erratic skies of the Holy City.’  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
LAST FRIDAY, intermittent rain and hail crashed against the erratic skies of the Holy City.’
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Running in the winter in Jerusalem is frigid, wet and uncomfortable. It’s hidden puddles, muddy sidewalks and dark skies.
It’s frustration that the pedestrian signals are not timed, and bouncing on the corner waiting to cross the street feels like a lifetime.
But somehow, almost every morning, I put on a running jacket, lace up my often still damp shoes and hit the pavement.
Those first breaths of cold air hurt my lungs, and I’ll gasp a little at the capacity of such a life-giving force to suck the life right out of me. Goosebumps. Chattering teeth. Eyes watering from the sting of the winter.
Still, I always take the second step.
And I have come to learn that running in the rain for me is a reminder of the lessons my mother taught me and that I try to pass on to my children. They are easy to forget in the hamster wheel of life, but my 30 minutes to an hour on the roads allows me to refocus.
Here are four lessons that pulse through my head as I pass frosty windshields on my winter runs:
1. This too shall pass

Last Friday, Jerusalem was gross. Intermittent rain and hail crashed against the erratic skies of the Holy City – strikingly blue and then suddenly black.
At one point in the mid-morning, I looked up from my computer to see a stunning and inviting horizon. “Now!” I said to myself, as I abandoned the keyboard for my running tights and watch.
I started running downhill, spellbound by the scent of fresh rain on the sidewalks and in the soil.
I had chosen a there-and-back course and had just completed the “there,” when the sky turned an ugly gray. Rain, and then hail, fell in buckets, pounding against me as I headed back uphill. I could feel my skin turning red, burnt by the bitter cold. I pushed against the weight of the wind, charging forward with determination.
This challenge was unexpected. It came out of nowhere, fast and with no warning. But just as soon as I saw my home on the horizon, the rain let up and I smiled as I stepped into my warm home. I did it.
We all go through difficult times, but like the rainy season, it will end. Stay focused on the future.

2. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Running at 5:30 a.m. on a winter day can be a little unnerving.
The shadows dance around the leaf-barren trees, and the cracks in the sidewalk are still hidden by the black veil of the night.
Despite wearing gloves, my hands sometimes get so cold that its hard to use them even once I get home, and they shake while I try to fashion sandwiches for the children or type a quick WhatsApp to my Internet team.
It was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Intense winter runs help give me the capacity to tackle struggles in other areas of my life. Taking each obstacle as it comes and learning from it makes us stronger and increases our endurance.

3. No matter what happens, you can always start over

Though rain often first makes the world seems darker and dirtier, it likewise has an incredible capacity to clean.
Running in the rain is also in some ways refreshing. Sometime, I will lift my head up to the sky, mouth agape, and just let the rain fall on my face. Drop by drop it washes away anger, stress and sadness, and reawakens me from the inevitable exhaustion I often feel as an overworked mother.
Rain refreshes and reinvigorates. Rain is washing away the past and starting over again and again and again.

4. God is in control

People who know me say I am a Type A personality – high-strung, detail-oriented and a perfectionist. I have to make sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, and I only like to pull the trigger when I feel we will see success. But when I start something, I move fast – really fast.
I like to believe that I can control my destiny: that if I work hard enough, am passionate enough and plan well enough, I will succeed. But sometimes we make plans and God laughs.
Two years ago, I decided to take my husband, Gil, up in a hot air balloon for our anniversary. It was a surprise and I thought that I had done everything right to ensure the success of our special day.
But God had plans for it to rain and our trek skyward was canceled. I thought my love would be very disappointed – after all, what could we figure out last minute that would be special? I was ready to just “cancel” our anniversary and stay home.
Gil told me not to forget all of our plans and that time alone with me is all he really wanted anyway.
We ate dinner at the incredible Makom B’Sejera, drank the perfect wine and nuzzled up in our little room in Gidona. And then just spent a few hours together before heading back to seven children, crazy jobs and the rest of our colorful lives.
The “rain” is God testing our faith. It comes and goes, pours down hard or sprinkles. We must power through – when things go perfectly and also when they don’t.
The writer is news editor and head of online content and strategy at The Jerusalem Post.