Although this article is five years old, it was very nice to read it concerning my old career field. We weren’t called ‘infantry;’ to us, that was a general description of our skill sets. When it comes to ruck training, the author of the article provides some excellent advice.
Original article, here; excerpts below. Emphasis added – brackets in #10 for clarity.
Ruck Marching – Every Day is Hump Day
Ruck Marching – Every Day is “Hump Day”
I’ve been carrying a rucksack for more than 20 years and confident I’ve put hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles on my feet with a ruck on my back.
Most people that have experienced life under a ruck often say it’s more mental than physical. I agree with that statement 100% and add that the toughest six inches of any road march is directly between your ears.
Why would someone want to follow a specific program for something that seems as simple as walking? It is necessary for adaptation. Your bones, connective tissue, and muscles need to get accustomed to carrying heavy loads on your back and for long distances. If you fail to follow a program that gradually introduces your body to the type of movements and mechanics of rucking; the body may not adapt properly and problems occur. But if you follow a solid program, you can avoid that fate.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure your kit fits and that you are wearing it properly. This includes weight distribution in your ruck. The majority of your ruck’s weight should rest on your hips, not your shoulders. The shoulder straps are there to merely keep the ruck from falling backwards.
- Do two marches per week — a slow march and a fast march — separated by two to three days. As you increase in distance, you may want to consider using a Saturday or Sunday so you’re not pressed for time before or after work.
- Your pace for the slow march should allow you to hold a steady conversation through the march.
- During your fast march, the pace should limit you to speaking in quick bursts, and you should be just out of breath the entire time. You should not be marching as fast as you can — you have to build load-bearing capacity first.
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and eating plenty of carbohydrates. No creatine or protein powder — just lots of organic carbs and water. If you don’t start hydrating until you step off for your march, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As one of my mentors explained almost two decades ago; “today’s water is for tomorrow.”
- Do not wear cushioned boots — cushion causes joint instability and will cause severe micro-trauma and fatigue. DO NOT WEAR ATHLETIC SHOES!
- Do not alter the body weight percentages outlined in the accompanying plan. Stick to the plan!
- Do not exceed 30% of your body weight in an effort to improve your endurance, ever. Upon completing this plan, limit your rucking to a maximum of four per month, with at least one of them being 30% body weight for nine miles to help maintain your conditioning.
- Never run with a ruck! If the time comes where your life or your mission requires you to run with a ruck, then run with a ruck; but don’t train by running with a ruck or your body will pay the price later in life. However, in the process of your training YOU WILL BE SORE. Learn the difference between soreness and injury. If you are injured (a blister is not an injury), heal, then work your way back into it. Being injured doesn’t do you, your unit, or the mission any good.
- While wearing shorts and athletic clothes may be more comfortable, if you are training for a school such as CLC, Ranger, or Air Assault, [or SHTF] then practice your rucking while wearing the same uniform [or type of clothing] you’ll wear at the school or while on a real-world op.