Disclaimer: My views and ideas are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the USMC, MARSOC, SOCOM, the Boy Scouts or anybody else for that matter.
Rucking, carrying a load pretty far.
In ASPOC/A&S a lot of your training will be ruck-centric. Just like SF or the other guys you are expected to be able to carry a significant load over long distance's for an extended period of time.
Most of the audience to this post are Marines. you've walked a few miles or more with your ruck and gear. You've proven at a minimum that you can make it through Basic training and MCT/SOI. Granted most of those milestones probably seem anti-climatic to you. My point is that you can handle yourself to base line levels. So thats where I'm starting from.
Foot Wear: At ASPOC/A&S it is policy last I heard that the training is conducted in EGA bearing Combat Boots, what-ever those are.
Boots and Non-issue boots.
I have found very few pairs of issue boots that I like, and that do not cause me ankle problems or other issues. My philosophy on boots is less is more. I do not recommend heavily padded boots with big rubbery cushion soles. Those are a recipe for disaster. You may find them comfortable and easy to move in at first. The human foot evolved a certain way. Using it naturally is the best way to keep over all foot and lower body health. Padded shoes take away your proprio-ceptive senses when moving. In other words you can get away with shitty movement patterns that would maim you if you didn't have them on. The problem is that these types of foot wear is that they cost you in the mid-term, and especially the long term.
A lot of shoe preference comes down to personnel choice. You may like padded boots like Bates Lights( the old Navy Seal boots we're my favorites back in the day. If I wear them today, I role my ankle if I step on a dime.) You may be able to succeed at A&S/ITC wearing super-padded boots. But over the long and mid term those boots will stress your feet and lower body in ways and have effects that you can only guess at until they happen. Me personally, I had all sorts of back problems, my ITB's would get very tight and cause back issues as well. This would happen from simply wearing the wrong running shoe or PT=ing in the wrong boots.
I prefer and I advise all Soldiers (Marines, Army, Navy AF,etc) to look for hard soled boots, with little to no padding. I usally stick with the insert that comes with the boot.
I know some locations require special boots. I have a pair of ASOLO's for more difficult terrain. I have some thicker boots for cold climates or wet-cold climates,etc. But overall you want boots that almost mimic wearing no shoes at all. That means boots that are light on padding with sturdy soles that are not the tall. For non-issue, I prefer Garmont Recon's. They are light weight and have little padding or sole.
I don't like the huge high soles you typically see on Danners. I told the Danner Boot Sales guy the same thing. He's supposed to get me a pair of low profile light weights much like the Garmonts, I'll test those out and get back to everybody. Look for boots with the smallest heal possible. You don't want boots that make you two inches taller, its not fun when you stand on something and twist your ankle two inches further than normal.
In the End Have a well broken in pair of USMC Regulation boots, and have a pair non-regulation if you desire. You may have found a pair of regulation USMC's that are perfect for you, use them. I'm not saying you need some Gucci boots, but do look around, many companies make excellent boots that will have you moving quite well. Also for your training leading up to ASPOC train in the boots you find most useful. Break in the USMC's during boots and utes PT or in other ways like shorter rucks, until your sure they'd broken in and won't hurt you.
My top choices
Jungle Boots: the old school style jungle boots, are to my mind the best things out there. Hard soled with little padding, you break then in and they last forever. Look for comparable new style boots, desert versions of these types are around.
My most disliked: Any super padded gym-shoey-gucci-boot.
Bates Lights: too much padding, no ankle support.
Issue Danner's: soles are too high, boots too heavy,
Ripple Sole's: you see them around Army base's.
Strong Feet= Strong Body's
If your feet are strong that generally means your strong. Spend as much of your time going bare-foot as possible. Vibram Five Fingers, Merrell's, Reebok Crossfit Shoes, Chuck Taylors, Vans, and other skate boarder type shoes are also highly recommended when wearing shoes( these have no padding or minimal padding.) Your feet we're meant to get you around without shoes. 2,000 years ago our feet we're a lot stronger than today. (Spending time bare-f00t, flip-flops, VFF is a great idea. Go barefoot in your grass, do normal daily activities in minimalist footwear. Get a feeling for how you move with no padding on your feet. This also gets you ready for wearing dive booties on the beach for amphib.)
Before you start running around in your Five Fingers causing all sorts of Functional Fitness Mayhem at the gym, you need to do some reading and some video watching. ( most brand new to VFF's owning guys wear them running for a 3-5 miles and then can't move the next day because there calves are so damn sore. I did the 2008 Camp Lejuene 1/2 Marathon in minimalist shoes. I was Pose running but didn't have the form down yet. End result my calves hurt so bad I could hardly walk for three days.) When your getting used to minimalist foot ware, go easy at first.
I am a firm believer and I practice Ball of Foot method of running. Its called Pose, or Natural Running, or Chi Running or has connotations of cave man running, Free Running as well.
These videos are a good place to start. If your not running with a Ball of the foot method, your not running the way your body evolved too. I know some of you are thinking " I fucking run 5:30 miles so what if my technique is not as good as the Russian guy says?" My answer is you might be able to get away with bad form for awhile or even your whole career. But 90% of runners have some kind of injury every year according to Runners World Magazine. I can almost be certain that if you are reading this, you will have, or have had some type of running injury in your life. So why chance having all the problems associated with bad technique? Why not take the time to learn the proper technique.
Learning to run and move naturally is more efficient and enables you to spend less energy as well.
Why is this important to Rucking? Because at A&S/ITC you will need to be able to run with your ruck on, for short distance as well as long distance. Learning how to run well (proper mechanical technique/ Pose method) will get you there faster and in a safer manner. The miles you put on your body are important, but in ways your probably not thinking of.
Rucking Meat & Potatoes
Socks: I alternate between liking hugely padded socks and just plain old white cotton socks. I put this piece of gear down to shooters preference. Experiment with different types of sock. See what works best for you. Keep in mind the environmental aspects as well. Weather, time of year, moisture, water crossing, etc. I did most of ARS ( East Coast Recon School) in thick wool Dive socks. I loved them for the ruck runs and land navigation as well as patrolling. In Iraq I wore the big green Thor-lo's, in Afghanistan my big green Thor-lo's we're terrible. My feet smelled so bad when I took my boots off, nobody could sleep next to me, kind of lonely. And they gave me blisters. Those same socks in the winter on patrols in North Carolina stood up just fine.
Find the brands that work for you. Be ready to go with thick or thin depending on the environment and weather conditions. Wet wool socks didn't bother my feet, wet cotton sucked. But Cotton tubes socks in Afghan summer heat we're just fine.
This ties into boots as well. Your pair may be broken in for thick socks in the winter, but your now wearing them in the hot sticky summer. Comfort has a lot to do with this, but bad choices for socks can wreck your feet. Choose wisely, experiment, re-check, and don't be afraid to change if something is wrong.
Socks and boots
Make sure your socks are comfortable in your boots. Make sure your feet are not pinched or the circulation is cut off. Be very perceptive of the amount of movement space there is for your toes. They shouldn't be crammed in. The balls of your feet should be able to spread on contact with the ground. What that means is your toe-box can not be restrictive. Your heel should be snugly in place but not so tightly that blood flow is restricted. Luckily if you put a pair of boots on you'll do that naturally just by way of feeling comfortable or not. Be thinking about how the front of your foot moves in the boot.
Some guys swear by having a thin whicking sock on underneath the padded sock. Supposedly this helps keep the feet dry and give a barrier between the skin and blister points. I've never done it, but give is a shot. I prefer a single sock, powdered well.
Something I've told a lot of you is to practice sock changes will your rucking. During your training practice getting your ruck on and off quickly and safely. Practice taking your socks off and powdering your feet.
You are issued a large sized ALICE Patrol Ruck at ASPOC/A&S. I suggest you buy the same one from a military store in your area. Make sure you get the good ones, and it you want get the really high speed ones with all sorts of pockets and pouches. Practice with this one, you won't use it at ASPOC/A&S. But you can and will use it at ITC if your smart. These are nicer versions to.
http://www.google.com/search?tbm=shop&hl=en&q=extreme outfitters&oq=extreme outfitters&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=14866l20696l0l21065l20l20l1l11l3l0l166l970l3.5l8l0#hl=en&tbm=shop&sclient=psy-ab&q=alice rucksack&oq=ruck sa&aq=1ms&aqi=g-s1g-ms1&aql=&gs_sm=1&gs_upl=10740l11898l1l14442l7l7l0l0l0l1l726l1947l0.4.1.0.1.0.1l7l0&gs_l=serp.1.1.0i10j0i5i10.10740l11898l1l14442l7l7l0l0l0l1l726l1947l0j4j1j0j1j0j1l7l0.frgbld.&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=f0239fbcbb433663&biw=1366&bih=659
There are several companies that make higher end Patrol Packs and accessories. I bought Black Hawk Pack Straps. There are decently padded and work well on the ruck frame. For overall comfort get the ones that have the snapping system that helps hold the straps centered on your chest. I call them chest straps. I hate moving around with no chest straps, the ruck will move too much when your jogging with it.
Waist Band or Kidney Pad
Fucking vital, do not ruck with out a waist band. I have one thats not heavily padded, but what its really there for is locking the ruck down and keeping it from moving all over your body when mobile. I think I'd be absolutely miserable without one. Just like not having a chest strap.
Awesome piece of kit, been using them for years. On ruck runs at ARS we used to zip tie them to the top of the ruck, that way they wouldn't get crushed in your ruck and lose the water. Newer versions of the rucks have two side spots for 100 oz Camel Baks. On patrol you'll need those two easily. On a graded ruck event, carry only whats required. For a standard Alice Patrol Ruck issued at ASPOC/A&S you going to have to find away to get the Camel Bak secured without it breaking inside your ruck. Normally you can fit it on top of the gear, then pull the top over and have the hose hanging out. Pull the straps tight and secure the excess. But look into other ways, like the zip tie method.
Great pieces of kit. Better in some ways than canteens. You can use them to mix Gatorade powder or make protein shakes. Standard Canteens its not wise to do this.
What do I wear and does it really manner ( uniform wise)
When I ruck around my neighborhood or on base or back home I wear a pair of flame retardant Desert Digi-tals with no name tapes. I wear non standard boots, and a brown T-Shirt and possibly a Base ball cap with some really cool team logo or company logo. I do not have my boots bloused, ever.
On base: that is a bit tricker. What I just described on main-side MCB Anywhere might draw some Devil Dogs or some serious "life-ings." If you are not wearing or using unit issued gear you can pretty much do what you want. You are essentially having recreational hike. Now if your junior or in a unit full of just returned to the Fleet Drill Instructors, that my be harder. My rule would be don't use or dress inappropriately at any unit training event. Clear any deviations with your chain of command. If you going to be wearing non-standard stuff, or old school cammies with no name tapes and your new $300 ruck sack be ready to explain politely and professionally what you are doing and why you are doing it and that you are not in an actual USMC uniform and you are off duty. Or just train in the National forests, or at night in your neighborhood. I do advise putting a road-guard vest or a reflective belt over your ruck when rucking anywhere near roads, common sense still applies.
In the end make a judgement call on types of pants, shorts, t-shirts, boots etc. Be able to explain to anybody who might stop and ask. Be safe and smart, utilize the training areas available to you.
Distance= Time on your feet, with your ruck on your back
There is a time and place for you to put your ruck on, and walk to the ends of the earth. I love free-play; wild hair up your ass crazy spur of the moment adventures where your asking out loud " What the fuck was I thinking?" You have to do events wheres you just go nuts and push your self to the edge. I get it, you just need to get it in your head that your crazy enough to do what ever needs to be done. At least that's the way I thought, and do still think. But that is not a training plan.
"Gonna run all day till the running s done.." That is one of the stupidest running cadence's ever. Running or rucking huge distances at a negligible pace is not proving anything. It needs to be done from time to time to cover that part of your energy system training, but not all the time.
So what am I talking about? Adding 1-2 miles per week to my long event? Using a gradual progression to get my boddy used to the distance's?
I am not writing you a training plan. But what I am doing is giving you knowledge to help you implement your own, or adapt the one from Marsoc, or where ever.
The fastest recorded 12 mile ruck time at ITC with a 45lbs ruck( not counting water) is 1:51 ( 1 hour 51 m minutes.) That is outstanding, in the true sense of the word. I know the guy, he's a great friend and comrade, among the best men that I have served with.
What does that time tell you about his pace? To move 6 miles in one hour you have to move 10 minute miles. To move below that in say 51 minutes means 8.5 minutes per hour. Averaged out? 9:31 minutes per mile.
I guarantee he didn't get that kind of speed from walking a 3.5 mile per hour pace for 4 hours adding a mile every week. The above case is outstanding and the very top of the performance scale that I have seen. The slow pace is not really preparing you for anyting. Maybe having a ruck on for an extended time, but you can get that mowing your lawn.
My point in all of this, is you have to train to go fast.
"I wanna go fast!" Ricky Bobby ( great American athlete)
Making sense of time under ruck and moving fast
If you've done 6 miles in 1:20, your looking at a 13.33 minute mile. That's not horrible, but not that good either. The minimum standard is 4 miles per hour. For some of you that's fucking nuts, for some of you that's insulting.
What I recommend and the standard I set is 12:00 minutes per mile slowest. I'd like to see guys hold between 10-12 minutes per mile. Thats not easy, but in that range your competitive. 10 minutes per mile is ideal, 2 hours is very respectable and highly competitive.
This does not mean you shouldn't go for the school record, but it means you have to train yourself thoughtfully and with purpose. If asked you should be able to tell someone that pace your holding, etc.
In real life application your move: 1.) two miles at 11:15 per. 2.) next two are 10:45 per mile and3.) the last 2 are 12:15.
That averages to 11:30 per mile. You'll see this due to terrain or weather, of just being cold when you started and tired near the end. The goal is to get those intervals faster in a progressive manner.
I recommend using Distance days and Speed days Intervals. Examples:
Distance day: 8 miles as fast as possible.
Speed days: ruck for 60 minutes, most distance possible.
Intervals:3 x 2 miles fast 1 mile recovery ( walking pace no slower than 15 minute per mile.)
Note You don't just ruck at ASPOC/A&S/ITC. You have to able to cover large distances quickly with a ruck, and then do stuff. Below are some variations on rucking that will help overall in training for A&S and will offer some variety to you training.
Movement to Contact: Cover 2-4 miles at speed pace. Dead lift 225lbs x100 repititions. Do this for time. (Use a weight that you can move safely without hurting yourself. If you don't know how to do an exercise, learn how to do it safely and over time. Try this type of event with exercises that you can do safely and competently, this is training not a gut check.)
Or cover 2-4 miles at speed pace 100 Kettlebell Swings ( heaviest bell you can safely use.)
Ruck & Run: Ruck 2-4 miles: 3x 400m sprints ( rest 2 minutes between efforts. You can sprint with ruck or without.)
Ruck and Swim: Ruck 2-4 miles then swim 500-1000m, Ruck 2-4 miles. You can do this for run/swim/run, or ruck/swim/run.
PT/Ruck: You can use several of the Crossfit wods for the PT. I recommend Cindy ( 5 pull-up, 10 push ups, 15 squats as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes.) Cover 1-2 miles, do the WOD without a ruck, cover 1-2 miles.
Obstacle Course/ Boots and 'utes.' A lot of the Crossfit wods can be easily used in this mode as well. Boot and utes sprints and runs, PT's get your feet used to the boot, and to movement patterns that can aid in tactical movement .
Ruck Sprints: I generally use the intervals above for speed work, but its more of speed/pacing training. Sprints can be anywhere from 10-800 meters. I recommend you think in terms of short distance, or moving quickly across a danger area, LODA SODA linear danger area's etc. So that means lots of 50-100 meter sprints. 10 x 50m
I'm up he sees me, I'm down: from the prone can you quickly and safely get on your feet and cover a short distance and get back down quickly? Can you moving in one direction, turn 180 and sprint in the opposite direction? Things to think about. This training is not just for A&S. Think about all your physical tasks involved with soldiering. We have some serious sport to train for.
You are a professional athlete ( start training like one)
Yes you are, and you better fucking believe it. Think it act it live it. Train hard, learn to recover effectively. Know what you need to do to be a good athlete. Know your body and how to train it, or ask somebody a lot of questions.
The above is a primer of sorts. Notice I did not write out a plan for you to follow. I will not write out a plan to compete with the 10 week A&S Prep program or Military Athletes Ruck based selections programs. What I hope you get from this Primer is a solid idea of how you would utilize various tools to improve your performance injury free. If you have specific questions I can answer them and give some ideas, and opinions and guidance. At the end of the day you have to have a pretty good idea who you are and what needs improvement, and what you can do to make that happen.
Mar 18, 2012
For the Cindy WOD using strict Dead Hang pullups what would you consider an average score, above average, and outstanding score? in just pt gear.Sep 21, 2012
I'd like to see 20 rounds in 20 minutes, either Kip or strict. an animal, 25 in 20min. It depends on what your trying to do.Sep 22, 2012Drew likes this.
Going back to boots the website was just updated not too long ago saying the do want boots with the EGA heat embossed on the outter ankle. Have you heard of a good pair that you would recommend or a good place to look i haven't found any that you've recommended and like u said my Bates Lights have been horrible on my ankles.Oct 22, 2012
I recently got some McRaes, a brand I had never heard of when I was active. They aren't bad at all- the design is simple, comfortable, and relatively lightweight compared to alternatives. If you don't mind heavy boots, I've heard the Danner RAT boots are solid as well. I picked up the McRaes from Quantico Boot.Oct 22, 2012
Vince thanks for the info i was looking at the Mcraes but have do you know how good the Altimas are? I have a guy i work with that used to be EOD and he claims they are great and they are the only boots he bought but if anyone has some input I would appreciate it I just wanna try and find the best that I can since im flat footed it will be crucial for me. Thanks againNov 8, 2012
Not sure about Altimas brother. I got a pair of Danner RAT a month ago and have been breaking them in. I can't say enough good things about them for long distance rucking. The RATs, with a good sock system, have been un-fuck-with-able on many different kinds of terrain.Dec 4, 2012
Great thread Uncle Petey. Just want to throw a good piece of kit out there, MSR camelbaks. They come in all different sizes(I currently have a 4qt) - they cost about the same as any other bladder, and they're super durable. You can sinch that fucker down under ruck straps, jump on it, whatever and it won't break, and if you somehow do manage to, the company will replace it for free. You can find them at REI or any other outdoors store.Feb 17, 2013