What are some good tips on ruck marching and ways to prepare for advanced military training?

Background: I am currently a contracted student in the Army through ROTC. I have been through some training through PRT and a Ranger Co. selection designed to mimic the physical and mental requirements needed to complete Ranger school. My PRT score is a 292 and have plenty of stamina and energy.

My biggest issue is ruck marching. I am currently 65 in. tall (5′ 5) and weight 140 pounds (by no means a big guy). This becomes a problem when ruck marching is involved. On numerous occasions I will find myself keeping a slow jog with a 45 pound ruck on while the rest of my peers are speed walking. I have heard a few tips on how to better this problem but the main bit of advice has been to just keep rucking all the time. Getting smoked is mostly mental, but ruck marching is my weakness. I will be attending Air Assault school in July at Ft. Campbell and would appreciate any advice I can get on how to train for any of my future endeavors. I like crossfit so any other ideas will help greatly.


9 Answers

  • Im a bit taller than you but i had a bit of a hard time with road marching as well the first few times I did it. Until i learn a good stride to walk it. I found i could take slightly larger steps then normal while road marching and it helped me alot. I had to work at it to find my perfect stride. I struggled through all the road marches in basic until i got to FT. Campbell and my section leader showed me a few tricks like that. Take your normal stride then add another foot to it see if that feels comfy. Then just practice it. It will look and feel kinda funny at first but if you can find a good wide stride you will tear up a road March. After i got my stride i could do road marches with no problem. I did my air assault school 12 miler in under an hour and ended up being one of the fastest in my unit other than that one section leader who was all legs. To do 12 in under an hour you have to book it and its not easy but stride and endurance wins the race.

    I promise you I did the road march in under an hour its only 12 miles the ruck in air assault school doesn’t weight that much. I also had resoled boots with a tennis shoe tread. I never said it wasn’t hard or easy but its possible. I think the record for the air assault school road march is less than 50 min. which is insane. Most of the better folks do it in 70 min.

    It also depends on the terrain in korea they might do a 20+ road march in a day on hilly terrain. I know in basic we did a 20+ or so they said in something like 6 hours. at FT Benning. We would regularlly do road marchs with 75 lbs or more for 10 miles for pt usually once a month if not more.

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    Good on you for planning to apply to West Point, but aren’t you jumping the shark a little by assuming they’ll take you? Just food for thought….. don’t get your hopes up too much. The military generally doesn’t do weight-lifting as their prescribed PT program, but why are you so quick to dismiss it? A lot of “PT studs” in the armed forces supplement the exercise they get from their unit by lifting in their own time. Weight-lifting done correctly will build muscle mass and also help prevent injury from aerobic exercise. Sign up for a class if you have the chance, it can do nothing but help. Ruck marches would be good also, just remember these points: 1. Wear the correct socks, this means a thin nylon sock covered by a thick cotton (wool is better) sock 2. Never go out in brand new boots. Wear them around the house for a week before you go rucking. 3. Get a rucksack appropriate to your size, in the military you probably won’t have a choice but cross that bridge when you come to it. Start out with little weight, 20-25 lbs. would do fine to start. If it seems too easy, then you can add some more. I wouldn’t exceed 60 lbs., they probably won’t make you carry much more than that in training. 4. Drink PLENTY of water. Dehydration is one of the biggest issues people have when exerting themselves. The basic rule of thumb is 1 liter per hour of strenuous activity. I’ve never been a competitive runner, but rucking is certainly a different beast. I’ve seen guys who run marathons fall out of ruck marches because of exaustion and dehydration. Drink enough water(eat some salty food too) and you should be ok. Start out slow and work your way up. If you can ruck 20 miles in about 4 hours, you will smoke most of your peers.

  • water, never drink it all till your gone cause once your out, your out, and some fruit will help with energy.

    All of the boot ideas work good. If you have issues with blisters, tape works much better than mole skin.

    Longer strides help, however, being short myself, sometimes i’d have to revert to a tiger paw jog, or an airborne shuffle on the toes of my feet.

    deucedog, you did NOT do a 12 mile ruck in less than an hour. That is, well, impossible. Seriously. 5 min mile pace just to do 12 with a full ruck? Not happening since a full on sprint on a pt test will hardly get anyone 10 mins in 2 miles sustained, let alone “less than” an hour. No need to stretch facts. Pretty sure the yearly ruck in korea, avg of 22-27 miles, is an all day event…ALL day event. rucking is not the same as a sustained run. 12 miles in an hour on a sustained run is difficult, even for those who do full marathon’s w/ no ruck weight, no boot weight…ect.

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  • The key to marches are you feet, IMO. If they are comfy, will you be too. Good, broken in boots are key (i use the wear them in the shower, and wear then dry, althought this doesnt work as well in desert boots). Also, wear black sock liners (dress socks) under your cotten combat socks. This prevents fiction, and makes your feet have an easier time. Although, if its hot, you might sweat a tad more.

  • If you have a pair of boots that are broken in real well take them to any alterations or boot shop and have the “toe” and “heel” taken out of the boot. Its the solid part that you can feel. It makes your boots much lighter and will prevent some of the blisters.

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