Rucking is a term I’ve heard thrown around a lot lately. The funny thing is when I was in the military I loved to hate rucking! It usually meant going for a 15 -20 mile run with 35+ pounds in your ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) pack while also wearing combat boots and cami’s. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me now either!
With the popularization of military-style fitness and training programs, rucking has taken on a civilian aspect as well. Most of us don’t need to train like we’re going into an indoctrination or selection process, so our ruck-training will be considerably different than our military professionals.
SO WHAT IS RUCKING?
The term “ruck” is short for “rucksack” which is derived from the German word for your back, der Rücken, combined with what you carry on it, a sack. Most people, especially in the civilian populous, simply call it a backpack.
So when you combine a rucksack with a foot march, you get a “ruck march”, which is the term we used frequently in the Marine Corps. We did have other names for it as well, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
If you have ever gone on a hike and carried supplies in your backpack (like water, food, change of clothes, or camping gear) then you’ve been rucking; or, have gone on a ruck.
When my son and I backpacked to Havasu Falls we each carried about a 50-pound pack for the 10-mile hike in. Our primary purpose was to camp and experience the amazingly beautiful waterfalls. We didn’t have a pace to keep and frequently stopped to take pictures and to take in our environment.
When I completed my first GORUCK Light Challenge I carried just shy of 30-pounds for just over 8.5 miles. The primary purpose of rucking is the physical exercise and training (for upcoming backpacking adventures and GORUCK events) by traveling on varied terrain over extended distances while carrying weight.
The military standard for a “ruck march” is 15-minute miles while under a full load, typically around 50 pounds. Outside of some professions and tactical athletes, most of us won’t need to carry 50 pounds or more on our backs and maintain that pace for 20+ miles.
WHY YOU SHOULD RUCK
Rucking has many benefits to anyone with the ability to walk. Even though I have trouble walking due to the nerve damage in both my legs I find rucking to be very helpful both physically and mentally. I am not a doctor, but I do personally feel the benefits of rucking.
Physically, rucking is a great way to improve your aerobic conditioning, overall strength, and even your posture. Rucking is a full body workout that when done properly will improve your posture.
Mentally, rucking gives you the opportunity to get outside and discover your environment. It gives you the ability to slow down and connect with nature and clear your head.
3 Tips for Better Rucking
1. The Kitchen Sink?
Whether you are training or doing an event the one thing to remember is to pack ONLY the essentials. Thaks to the military, I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to packing (lessons learnded the hard way). The bottom line is don’t pack anythig you will not or do not plan on using.
Here are a few resources to help you pack your ruck:
2. Standing Tall & Looking Good
Rucking can help improve your posture… or make it worse. You will have a slight lean forward, but you want to remain as upright as possble (stand tall), take shorter strides – espeially with heavier loads, and DFQ.
DO NOT roll your shoulders forward; let the pack pull them back. You’ll know very quickly if you’re rolling your shoulders, you will feel it!
You should not be looking at your feet or the ground directly in front of them. Keep your gaze 15-20 feet in front of you (when terrain allows). This will also help your posture, reduce fatigue and keep you looking good.
3. I Can Walk to ... Like This!
It’s important to be realistic when picking your route. What I mean by that is don’t throw a 50lb pack on your back and get dropped off 20 miles from home for your first ruck. Know your physical limitations and fitness level.
Here are a few training plans to consider, whether you’re a total beginner or experienced GRT.
#stillrucking #rucktraining #ruckit #ruckon