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A Favorite Story on Mentality and Resilience from Special Forces Recruits.

Special Forces Recruits

During selection, the recruits are assessed on individual and team events. Some are physical such as runs, PT tests and loaded ruck marches.

You’ve probably seen Who Dares Wins. Same same, but different.

On this particular day the recruits had an individual run of an unspecified distance.

Let’s just say it was more than 5 miles and less than 10 miles.

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  • It was an individual assessment.
  • They did not know the distance.
  • They were sleep deprived and about 5 days into the 21-day process.
  • They had never run more than 4x1km tempo runs in the 8-week prep course I had lead for them.

*more about that bit later.

So, here is where it gets fun.

The recruits set off.

As one solid blob. Moving across the ground shoulder to shoulder.

The slowest into the middle, the studs on the outside protecting the slugs, pushing guiding, encouraging and moving in unison.

It was quite beautiful to watch actually. As a civilian, I felt pride and deep respect. The cadre said nothing. When they finished the distance they were elated, a lot had never run that far.

They hugged, smiled, high-fived, some vomited and everyone laughed. But there was a problem. This was not a team event. This was very clear in the brief.

It was an individual event where they were to be assessed on their own physical endurance.

So, the cadre gave them a short rest, refueled and put them back on the line. They were made to do it again. There was no back chat, no complaining.

Just a lot of angry lads looking up at the sky for being rumbled. They knew what they were doing, and now they had to face the music.

Every man made it back. Double the prescribed distance. Closer to 20miles than 10.

We’d built animals. Blaggers yes, but still animals.

The lesson here is about the dark place they had to go to, push through and sit in for a very very long period of time.

The elation they felt, only for it to be snatched away from them for reasons of their own making. But that day they smashed any pre-conceived idea about what they could and could not achieve.

That day empowered them (and drew a line in the concrete around following instructions as well). They became limitless.

Your limits are likely nowhere near where you think they are, they are probably much further, we just don’t test them.

Doing hard things stretches us to achieve our dreams.

*For those thinking “How did they manage to run closer to 20 miles than 10 miles with max distances of only 4x1km tempo runs in their 8-week train up?

Because I based training prescription off accumulative weekly load of ALL activities, ruck marches, land nav (accounting for getting lost!), SUT (small unit tactics), resistance training and general time on feet.

They simply did not need any more volume of work, some intensity work yes, volume? Absolutely not. The proof was in the pudding (double portions) in fact.

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