Every so often a business trip yields an unexpected opportunity.
On my recent trip to Ontario, I finish work early (thanks to clients who want to go home early), change into my running gear, and head out the hotel door to a local trail — the Etobicoke Creek Trail (which I still can’t pronounce). At the trail-head, I speak with two mountain bike riders. Since the route spans a total of 50 km, I ask questions about safety (because I’ve seen Criminal Minds), trail conditions, and whether the north or south direction yields the most scenic route. The consensus opinion is that the southern route offers the best views of the creek (a river by California’s standards) nestled among the trees. Armed with this information, I begin my slow jog.
I am not disappointed. The trail is a mix of hard packed dirt and asphalt running along the river. Every bend in the road reveals beauty that forces me to break my cadence, gaze at the meandering river, and take a selfie or two. I run over scenic bridges and through wildflowers chased by butterflies and dragonflies. Only once I freak out when a snake slithers across the trail. It’s probably not poisonous, but I carefully weave to the other side of the path.
Between the running, stopping, and picture taking, I suddenly find that I’ve been going for almost an hour. I didn’t plan a two hour run, but it’s too late now. Regretfully, I turn around and retrace my steps. Even though I’d passed this way before, the changing light makes the path look different (and forces me to take more pictures). In fact, the views are so distracting, I miss the trail-head exit. Luckily, it’s only a half-mile mistake.
By the time I finish, I’d run almost 9 miles and could have kept going.
I read once that you have to be in shape to run. This theory always sounded counter-intuitive — don’t I run to get into shape? Isn’t that what training is about? But today, I ran because I was in shape. My running was a means, not an end.
Perhaps this is the value of training. We train so that when the opportunity arises, we can enjoy executing our discipline effortlessly. When Paul speaks of “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3), the value is to perform every good work effortlessly when opportunity arises.
Upon returning to the hotel, I clean up and find another opportunity: Wok of Fame, an all-you-can-eat Asian food buffet. The name is cheesy, but the food is great. And after my long run, I can eat anything I want. I guess there really are benefits to training.