The interesting thing about this video isn't that a Spartan racer almost gets killed by a runaway tractor tire. It's that there's such a thing as a Spartan Race. (Disclosure: my son George works for Spartan.) This obstacle-course series--along with its competitor, Tough Mudder--are leading a rapidly growing sport. Tough Mudder alone attracted more than half a million participants last year.
It would be amusing to show that tire video in a village in Ghana and watch people's faces when they learn that Americans pay to do that stuff. Or maybe we wouldn't have to go that far. This American Life recently did a a report on Hale County, Alabama, where a quarter of working-age adults are on disability. When the reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, asked people with bad backs whether they might get a job that involved sitting down, they looked confused. Most had never seen a job that entails sitting.
"It seems as though the population is getting divided in more ways than just income and politics," a friend said to me. "You're now getting the morbidly obese, the hyperfit, and fewer and fewer normal people like me."
Sometimes I'd like to be normal. This morning, for instance. I'm in that phase of training where my heart rate is up, I have trouble getting to sleep, and I feel flu-like symptoms. Classic over-exercise syndrome. Got up at 4 nonetheless and did an hour-long Insanity workout, the most intense one. Got through it, but it wasn't pretty. I'll be traveling most of next week, doing Insanity in hotel gyms and hitting the treadmill. After that, I start running outside in the fresh air.
That will feel normal.