When I embarked on my remoulding journey of becoming a Royal Marines Commando our drill instructor was all about ‘standards and bearing’. To a miners son from the back end of a place not many knew existed this was all very new to me. This term cropped up everywhere in training, whether it was down to how you set your kit out, how you march or how your posture should be this term would be followed shortly after any stern instruction.
Amazingly, it was something I was familiar with before life in the forces but just in a completely different sense and you probably are too. Sometimes these standards are something we set as individuals, or aspire to meet to uphold our working life. For example, if you’re a sales person selling a product there’s a baseline limit to achieve in terms of sales and anything more is a bonus, sometimes yours to keep.
Since life in the Royal Marines, and in terms of my fitness mine has always been the 3 mile run (not to be confused with 5k). This is because a basic entry requirement for the Royal Marines is to run 3 miles inside of 22 minutes and 30 seconds, anything over that, you’re out. Anything inside means you get another chomp at whatever hell is next on the list.
My main reasoning for writing this piece is because it’s all around us, that we set these standards or these baseline requirements for ourselves before we take any other action. I would be (and probably will be when the time comes) distraught and annoyed at myself if ever I thought, or performed at a level unsuitable for entry to that role. Similarly people are ‘happy’ if they do 10k in 1 hour, can lift a certain weight a certain amount of times or even if they maintain a body composition that allows them to pull off a certain look, or wear garments of their choosing. If things got so bad that they couldn’t achieve that, just like if I couldn’t run 3 mile in that time, I’d be looking at what course of action to take so that I could.
These standards that we set ourselves can be quite controversial within the fitness industry because there’s always someone saying their way is the best way, whether it’s to build muscle, shed weight or develop a particular skill within a sport. It’s easy to say this, that or the other is the best way but you have to take some enjoyment from some elements of the entire process. If you’re not enjoying the journey, regardless of it being the best way you’ll be reluctant to stay on course.
The other thing with such standards is that it can really help or hinder your progress. If they help, great. If they hinder you to the point of feeling pressured and unhappy then reassessing may be beneficial to boost your confidence and performance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lowering your expectations, because the finished product is going to be a combination of your current ability, motivation and justification, and if either one of those are poorly represented it will impact on the other two and therefore the finished product.
I want to do a sub 10 hour IRONMAN. Right now, my ability doesn’t reflect this, my motivation also isn’t at its all time high right now largely because of the current climate. Finished product; not going to do a sub 10 hour IRONMAN. The latter point with everything that’s going off even makes me question my justification for wanting to do a sub 10 hour IRONMAN.
Even though you might not want to do a sub 10 hour IRONMAN, this point is relatable to a degree in something you yourselves want to achieve.
The idea is to progress and develop, but there does have to be some backwards steps sometimes. Sometimes you have to take a step back from this obstacle, and out of the shadow it’s cast to see a little more clearly and negotiate a path around, through, over or under it. If this helps you move forward long term, it’ll be a mere blip in the timeline of what you’ve set out to do. If you want to achieve something so much, any obstacle will only slow you down but by having your own set of basic standards, you’ll keep yourself in the loop to keep going back and keep trying and keep searching for your way around the obstacles before you. Whether your standard is to do three sessions a week and relax at the weekend or it’s to cover a certain distance in a certain time frame makes no odds, because it’s your standards and nobody else’s. That’s what makes this industry difficult to work within sometimes, but it’s also the reason why it isn’t a one size fits all program that we operate at Body Planners. You’ll have probably got (or had) your own standards whether you know it or not. Now would be a good time to have a little think and potentially reacquaint yourselves with them. It might just be the thing to take you to the next stage of your journey.