Surviving And Winning

I woke up coughing ..


Shit ..


Day 5 of selection.


I didn’t need this ..


I didn’t want this ..


I had this ..


A chest infection.


A few hours later we stood to attention on parade ..


0600 hrs ..


Physical training time ..


With torsion bars ..




I wasn’t the best of runners at the best of times ..


With a chest infection ..


I was fucked ..


Good and proper.


We took off ..


As a team ..


Barely 400 meters into it and I was falling off the back ..


Struggling ..


Coughing ..




Then I saw it ..


A hill ..


In the distance ..


Were we going up it ..?


We were going up it.


Not once ..


But the entire session ..


Shit again.


My struggle was obvious ..


No chance of being the grey man today ..




The instructor was onto me ..


Like a fly on shit ..


Like tartan on a Scotsman ..


Like guilt on McDonalds ..


Thorough ..


Obsessive ..




“Get up the front ..


Now ..


And stay there.”


Wheezing ..


Spluttering ..


Burning lungs.


I was at the front ..


Leading ..


Being about as effective as diet coke with a snickers bar ..


Sunscreen at midnight ..


Saying ‘no’ to a toddler ..




The instructor ..


Running beside me ..


Yelling ..


“Hurry up candidate 41 ..


Fucken stay at the front ..


You want to hit me don’t you ..


Do it ..?”


Could barely hear him ..


Had no energy to strike him anyway ..


Focusing on breathing ..


Staying conscious ..




That’s all I could do.


This wasn’t my day to dominate ..


My day to kill it ..


My day to excel ..


I just had to survive.


Survive the abuse ..


Survive the session ..


Survive the day.


Tomorrow would be day 6 ..


Another day down ..


Another day to dominate.


Right now though ..


Survival was key ..


It was paramount ..


It was how I would win.


My mind went blank ..


I couldn’t see the instructor ..


Just the hill ..


Just the sprints ..


Just what was in front of me.




Heartburn ..


Diarrhea ..


That’s what confronted me ..


That’s what I needed to overcome.


60 mins later ..


And many hill sprints down ..


“Continue down the hill!”


Back to barracks ..


Back to the showers ..


Back to the medic.


Job done ..


I’d survived ..


I’d won.


(Sometimes you have shit days, sometimes all you can do is survive. That's how you win.)


Rhys Dowden

Operator Edge

Mindset is a choice

About the Author

Rhys Dowden is the owner of Operator Edge, a company through which he provides to his clients extensive mental conditioning along with military, self-defense, and physical training.

Growing up in Queensland, Rhys enlisted in the Army as soon as he was 18 and then served a little more than four years in the Royal Australian Armored Corps. Later in his career, he served on Steve Irwin’s personal security detail at the Australia Zoo for six months and then worked as a private security contractor in Iraq between 2004 and 2006 before re-enlisting in the Army and going through the Commando Selection and Training Course in 2008.