1. Train Like Your Event (and then some)
If you’re new to rucking, then you may need to increase your ruck weight gradually. But, your goal should be to train with your event ruck weight and then some.
What this means is that you need to know how much your weight will be in your rucking backpack on event day. This would include your mandatory weight (30# or 20#) PLUS the weight of your water, food, and supplies (note: water is heavy). This means you need to do a dry run on your packing to figure out what all you plan on taking. Then, weigh your ruck. Odds are, the additional gear and supplies will add 6-12 pounds. (Here’s my current GORUCK Packing List and here’s a video on how I pack for GORUCK events.)
Once you know your ruck’s event weight, it should be your goal to always train with that weight plus a few more pounds.
2. Lock in Your Gear Choices
Training grants you the opportunity to test stuff out, but you need to lock it in. And I mean everything.
What socks, underwear, shirts, ruck, weight, bags, cases, shoes. Use your training to test out different ideas and new gear. Find what you like and what works best for you. (Here’s what I wear to a GORUCK event.)
Then, when you’re one month out from your event, lock it in, and DON’T change anything!
3. Push Yourself (or get someone to do it for you)
One of the more challenging aspects of a GORUCK event is that you don’t have control over what happens. Cadre says on your back for 6-inches, you get on your back for 6-inches. Cadre says push-ups, you do push-ups. Cadre says start; you don’t stop until he says stop.
The thing is that this is hard to train. We often try to replicate event scenarios by planning to do some form of a difficult workout. But, whether we intend to or not, we alway go easier on ourselves than Cadre will. An excellent way to train for the abuse you’ll receive is to have someone “cadre” for you.
If you have access to one, I highly recommend you use a kid. I once asked my son to help me with my 6-inch holds. I told him for 5 minutes to give the command 6-inches, 90-degrees, or down. He almost killed me, which was much more realistic than just doing 30-seconds on 30-seconds off.
I’d add that you can easily do this with a training partner. I’d say the key is to have your partner call the reps while NOT doing the exercise. If a partner is calling the reps while doing the exercise with you, he/she is only going to push you as hard as he/she can go.
4. Have A Team
Training is hard, and it takes time. If you have a family, you need to make sure they are on board with your training. Make sure they don’t resent the time and energy you’re devoting to your preparations. No GORUCK event is worth creating strife in your family.
Along with having your family on board, it is tremendously helpful to have a group of like-minded weirdos to train with and hold you accountable for your actions. The GORUCK website has a list of regional ruck groups and GORUCK Training Partner gyms.
5. Carry Stupid Stuff
Here’s the deal, you’re going to be carrying a lot of stuff during your GORUCK event. You’ll be carrying logs, sandbags, jerry cans, and any other number of stupid stuff the Cadre brings or finds along the way. The only way to get used to it is to do it. So, while putting in miles under your ruck is important, you had better be putting in miles with your rucking backpack and stupid stuff.
I wrote previously about some of my favorite training gear, many of which are cheap or free. Probably the best investment you can make is in this $20 jerry can. It is one of my most hated things to carry. So, I fill it out and go walk a few miles.
6. Test Your Food and Fuel
Much like locking in your gear, you need to know how your body is going to react to the food and fuel you “plan” to use during your event. I say “plan” because you should always assume that the Cadre is going to take away your food privilege.
This means that you need to test out your snacks, energy gels, electrolyte tabs, and anything else you plan to use. Eat them during your training (especially longer training/ruck sessions) and see how your body reacts. Then, lock it in and DO NOT change it for the event.
I made the huge mistake of taking some food bars I had never tried before to my first GORUCK Heavy. I ate one right after the 12-mile ruck, during a rest before out PT test, and it sat so heavy on my stomach that I threw up after my push-ups.
7. Train Your Mental Toughness
“Mental Toughness is a man’s ability to defeat the voice in his mind telling him to quit.” (Navy Seals Training Guide: Mental Toughness)
During your event, there will be a time when your mind is telling you to quit. If you’re not ready for it, it may be your undoing. That’s why you need to train for it. Here’s the catch, the only way to train for it is to put yourself in a situation you want to quit.
That means you need to find a way to make your training hard. Like, really hard. There need to be workouts that make your mind scream “quit” and you have to muster the mental fortitude to defeat that voice.
Disclaimer: Don’t be an idiot. Getting rhabdo or seriously injuring yourself in training is stupid. Know the difference between quitting because it hurts and quitting because you’re hurt.
8. Get Wet
I feel like this is often a neglected aspect of people’s training plans. Yet, you have like a 98% chance of getting wet at some point during your event. So, train for it.
My recommendation is simple. At least once before your event, get out your hose, soak yourself from head to toe, then go for a nice long ruck with some PT thrown in. It sucks. But, it is real.
My other recommendation is not to avoid water. If you’re out rucking and there is a big puddle, go through it. If you come to a creek, walk through it.
9. Miles on Miles
Nothing can substitute for putting in your miles. The longer your event, the more miles you need to put in. As a general rule, I recommend:
- 40-50+/- miles per month when training for a GORUCK Light.
- 60-75+/- miles per month when training for a GORUCK Tough.
- 75-100+/- miles per month when training for a GORUCK heavy.
10. Get Stronger
Fact: Strong people are harder to kill.
Rucking and PT will go far in helping you train for your event. But don’t neglect good ole fashioned strength training. Generally speaking, if you can pick up 300# off the ground by yourself (deadlift), that is probably more helpful to your team than if you can only pick up 200# or 100#.
In your training be sure to find time to get to the gym and work on your overall strength.
11. BONUS Tip – Use Training Guides
In partnership with Ruck.Training we have released three GORUCK training guides. Once for each event: Heavy, Tough, and Light. Click here to learn more about the GORUCK training guides. The best part? They’re free!
Those are my top ten GORUCK training tips. What are yours? Sound off in the comment section below and share your favorite nuggets of training wisdom.