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Old 09-30-2008, 09:50 PM   #1
Shane Skowron
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Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

I'm surprised I couldn't find any threads about this yet.

I have seen much debate in the SOF community about whether or not one should train with ruck runs. In the SOF units of course these are absolutely necessary for missions, but some have suggested that they place too much stress on your body to be beneficial for pre-SOF training. In other words, don't do it until you have to.

I have done a bunch of weighted runs in my training (I am preparing for SOF), most notably 10Ks with 25# vest at max effort. I also do non-running WODs with vests frequently. I have found that these were extremely challenging, and I have not experienced any pain as a result of these ruck runs. Ruck runs tax both the metabolic system (but constricting your breathing if you have a vest or tight pack) and fatigue your legs far quicker than a regular run. Also, ruck runs are different in nature than ruck marches.

I recently completed my first 50 mile trail race this past Sunday, and I brought a backpack filled with supplies along the way. I must say that I barely even noticed that I was weighed down with about 10# for all that distance; the ruck runs definitely had something to do with that.

So I am trying to spark a discussion here about the pros and cons of regular ruck runs, especially for SOF hopefuls. I am hoping someone has some knowledge about whether or not these will cause serious damage to my body if incorporated as part of a serious training program. Specifically I am concerned about ankles, feet, and knees.

I don't see much point in wearing a ruck for runs less than 30 minutes in duration. But I was thinking about making most of my tempo and long distance runs (4+ miles) into ruck runs, perhaps once or twice a week. Of course this will slow the pace of the run, but since I do the CF Endurance program, which incorporates a lot of speedwork, I don't think I should be concerned about getting slower. My goals are to continue lowering my overall CF times, continue to increase my relative strength, and increase my endurance capability physically and mentally for ultras.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:14 PM   #2
Shawn Tsosie
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Don't run unless you have to. You're going to build up the muscular endurance plenty by just rucking.

You're putting a lot of stress and strain on ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are just not prepared for that amount of stress (if they ever are). Your military career is not a sprint, but a marathon. Don't make the mistake of getting overzealous and doing too much too soon.

Just get a good pair of boots (I love the Army issue Bellevilles, my feet have never had a problem with these boots, but they are heavy), a good pair of socks, and ruck long at least once a week. Preferably 12 miles or more and slowly work up to the "minimum" forty-five pounds (in reality, I've found my load is often over seventy-five pounds on the training rucks).

What has worked for me in the past is:
1. Lose weight (This helps a LOT)
2. Run without weights
3. Ruck
4. If you can take ice baths after you ruck and take the next day off.

Good luck.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:31 AM   #3
Randy Kite
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Shawn,

Well stated. Dead on.

Shane,

From experience everything Shawn has laid out is dead on.
Train smart. Your chances of injury are high enough heading into selection.
Do your part toward injury prevention by training intelligently.

Don't run with a ruck until you have to. It is very hard on your knees, feet, ankles, and back. Build your speed as your able.
Learn to ruck fast without running. Have fun and keep us informed.

Last edited by Randy Kite : 10-01-2008 at 04:42 AM.
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:07 AM   #4
David Boyle
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

I love running w/ full combat load. Just like anything too much can be a bad thing. We did the Murph w/ boots-utes-flak a week an a half ago. 98 degrees too.

Painful fun!
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:44 AM   #5
Casey Raiford
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Here's a couple of pretty decent rucking threads:

http://board.crossfit.com/showthread...highlight=ruck

http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=4617&page=1

Both WFS.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:26 PM   #6
Shane Skowron
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Casey thanks for finding those threads. My search never turned those up.
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Old 10-03-2008, 08:37 AM   #7
David Sumner
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Shane,
Have you found this site yet?
http://www.navyseals.com/crossfit-wo...day?page=0%2C0

Most of the workouts are Crossfit WODs with some extra torture thrown in, usually doubling the time of the workout by putting in more running than you will see in a traditional Crossfit WOD. I did one this morning, Angie with four miles of running. The site prescribed the following:
- 1 mile run
- 100 pullups
- 100 pushups
- 2 mile run
- 100 GHD situps
- 100 Star jumpers
- 1 mile run

Took me just over an hour.

Running with a vest is definitely for those whose are physically conditioned for it. If you are running 50 mile races I would say you fall into that category. I wear a vest for workouts every couple weeks to increase the intensity, but I have only run with one once and my pace was less than half my normal pace as I was making sure I was not beating my feet/ankles/knees to death. If you have bad running form extra weight is just going to compound your problems. I have been practicing POSE and I am currently running in Fivefingers. So my running stride is different than most.

Do you run differently when you run with weight, more of a shuffle than a full stride?

Look into sand bag carries. A 50-80lb sandbag on one shoulder and carrying it a couple hundred meters will get you going And you can do cleans, squats, or throws with it as well. Should go a long way in preparing your for SOF training.

Last edited by David Sumner : 10-03-2008 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 10-03-2008, 08:47 AM   #8
Shane Skowron
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sumner View Post
Shane,
Have you found this site yet?
http://www.navyseals.com/crossfit-wo...day?page=0%2C0

Most of the workouts are Crossfit WODs with some extra torture thrown in, usually doubling the time of the workout by putting in more running than you will see in a traditional Crossfit WOD. I did one this morning, Angie with four miles of running. The site prescribed the following:
- 1 mile run
- 100 pullups
- 100 pushups
- 2 mile run
- 100 GHD situps
- 100 Star jumpers
- 1 mile run

Took me just over an hour.

Running with a vest is definitely for those whose are physically conditioned for it. If you are running 50 mile races I would say you fall into that category. I wear a vest for workouts every couple weeks to increase the intensity, but I have only run with one once and my pace was less than half my normal pace as I was making sure I was not beating my feet/ankles/knees to death. If you have bad running form extra weight is just going to compound your problems. I have been practicing POSE and I am currently running in Fivefingers. So my running stride is different than most.

Do you run differently when you run with weight, more of a shuffle than a full stride?

Look into sand bag carries. A 50-80lb sandbag on one shoulder and carrying it a couple hundred meters will get you going And you can do cleans, squats, or throws with it as well. Should go a long way in preparing your for SOF training.

David I've been doing NSC workouts for a little under a year now, and I am usually among the top times on their forum. This is of course where I got the idea for the ruck runs, as Coach Ord often prescribed them on Saturdays. (It looks like Coach Ord doesn't make the WODs anymore, I'm not sure why.)

My stride is a little shorter with a ruck, but it's still pretty decent. When I get tired I tend to go into a brisk march rather than shorten my stride. So far I am somewhat "comfortable" with my cadence for ruck runs, as I tend not to feel any pain. I'm not sure if this means my joints are fine, or if they could be getting damaged without me knowing.

I recently got a pair of FiveFingers. I wore them for the first 20 miles in my 50 miler but the problem was I didn't train distance in them. Eventually my ankles got way too sore, and I was getting some painful blisters on my feet. I love them for sprinting intervals and for WODs, but I still have to get used to them for distance runs. I don't run good POSE, but I am not a heel striker either. What is the furthest distance you've gone in them?

I will try some sandbag carries. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 10-08-2008, 01:55 AM   #9
David Barrington
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Hey Shane,

I'm in the Brit reserves (not SOF) and to ruck or not to ruck is a vexatious topic for us. I've been told (by tier 1 personnel) to avoid it like the plague as doing it with any regularity will **** your knees. However others swear by it. As a purley anecdotal point I do know someone who went into it too quickly and is currently seriously hurting, however my lurking at nsc would suggest you're not in that category.

I suppose a major factor will be how much rucking you'll have to do. For us for example a major test was a 10 miler with upwards of 25kgs and ruck runs (or tabs as wecall 'em) are a major and regular part of both selection and weekend to weekend life. I personally have avoided doing it in my own training and sufferd no ill effects. The kind of strength I got from cf combined with alot of running was all I needed. If you're not happy with your times and ruck running will be important then perhaps you've got to go for it.

As good alternatives that alot of our guys do you could try pulling a weighted sled (looks kind of odd and I'm dubious about) or taking weight on the stairmaster. This is an awesome workout especially if your selection will involve alot of hill climbs. There is zero impact on the knees/ankles and your legs will get huge.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:33 AM   #10
Shane Skowron
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Re: Pros/Cons of regular ruck runs

Thanks David for the suggestion. I am looking to go to BUD/S followed by SQT. I don't believe there are any major ruck marches in BUD/S, although I think in Third Phase there are 4 mile runs with 25# pack. I know in SQT there are some very long ruck marches but I don't think I need to specifically train that far ahead.
I will have to try the stairmaster suggestion at some point. I knew that machine wasn't completely useless.
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