Marathon running has been booming for some time, triathlons have flourished recently and now people are flocking to gruelling assault courses. But how did recreational sport get so extreme?
I’d been wondering a little bit about this myself. My own experiments with the Paleo Diet (still works a treat thanks!) and gym going led me towards ‘functional fitness’, which is going to be partly the appeal of these more extreme endurance sports. Indeed, whilst cycling has been my main fitness tool of choice, my current leanings have been towards slightly more arduous forms, such as off-road cycling (or Rough Stuff as its known, to distinguish it from mere mountain biking) on the basis that if I combine cycling with occasionally necessary walking and sometimes carrying of the bike and any load, I’ll get a more all round workout than peddling alone (and get to some places that others wouldn’t think of).
But when I think deeply about it, what I’m doing as much as anything is trying to avoid the regimentation that all forms of sport seem to come under these days. I just want to be free and active to do as I please in the countryside, to not be constrained by ‘cycle here, walk there’ rules which seem to be created in the name of open access but are often anything but. I’m not a competitive sportsman, in the sense that I don’t yearn for a medal to prove my accomplishments, merely the fact of having been there and done it at all, and come back with a tale to tell. Isn’t that what life is meant to be about?