Sidetracks are Where the Fun Happens

Justin Spencer-Young
3 min readApr 6, 2022


Many people are fearful of the ever-watching eye of “big brother”. The conspirators amongst us might suggest that Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or insert any other “evil overlord” wants to track our every move.

The reality is, in our pockets or handbags is a device that is permanently connected to a GPS satellite and your mobile service provider knows exactly where you are 24/7.

I have no doubt that I am the easiest person to find on this planet. Firstly, I am a creature of habit. And secondly, I actively record the routes that I run every day. My running heatmap is a spider web of all the roads I have run on. The picture insert is just the southern end of Johannesburg.

On any day of the week at 5:30 in the morning, I am either at Croft Coffee in Tyrone Ave or Seattle Coffee in Bryanston. Running with a crew of fellow coffee-loving runners is my preferred way to start each day.

As my heatmap suggests, I have covered many streets on different routes. However, there are a handful of regular routes. Those streets show up as bright yellow.

Running a regular route is a great measure of progress. It provides a benchmark to track performance. “Am I getting better?” is the eternal question.

The downside to running a regular route is obvious. Anything that you do repeatedly gets boring — like most things in life, finding a balance between staying in your comfort zone and stretching yourself to do new things is essential.

I get excited when I run on new roads and add to my heatmap. There are different sights to see and experiences to be had. I recently ran through “horse country” in Midrand. Dirt roads, large animals to navigate around, way less traffic, and the feeling of wide-open spaces.

Running is an analogy for life. If you look closely at your daily activities, you will find that you have habits and regular activities that you do most days. You probably engage in those activities with “unconscious competence”. Something might shake you awake, and then you find yourself asking, “did I pack the kid’s lunch?” Of course you did. You were just unconscious while you did it. This is you “running” the same routes every day.

Taking a sidetrack is the equivalent of breaking out of the routine and comfort of our daily existence. The very nature of going down a “road” that you have never travelled requires the use of all your senses. You cannot travel a new road outside of your area of competence while you are in a state of unconsciousness.

Taking a sidetrack is especially enjoyable when done spontaneously. As much as I know that to be true, every part of me wants to resist it. Planning and certainty are naturally comforting, but uncertainty can be surprising and exciting if you let it be.

Note to self — seek out the sidetracks! Actively look to do new things outside of the warm and cosy comfort zone.

By the way, I am not changing the Friday Seattle route!

Justin Spencer-Young



Justin Spencer-Young

Daily content creator at Fast Forward Business. Chief Valueologist. Fast Forward Business Podcast…look out for my daily podcast…a shot of value in your day