Rucking Benefits For Runners
If you want to become a better runner, what’s the normal advice?
“Run more” you’re told. Maybe, if you’re not consistently weight lifting, the answer is to get stronger.
(We use these crossfit track workouts)
And that’s where the advice ends. If you’re already putting miles in near daily then adding extra running might not be all that beneficial considering the extra pounding on your joints.
Enter the world of rucking. Traditionally a military exercise to condition soldiers to be able to walk long distances in full gear and with a heavy backpack, rucking has now exploded into the mainstream with rucking events featured in the crossfit games and other performance driven events like the Tactical Games.
But why would anyone who’s not in the military want to throw some weight into a backpack and head out into nature? Let’s look at some of the more well known hunters on social media these days like Cameron Hanes and John Dudley, both of whom are well known for their conditioning.
If you’re tracking an animal for hours through the wilderness you have to be in pretty good endurance shape, that goes without saying but what happens when you kill the animal. You realize you have to carry it back right?
Maybe hunting is an extreme example but rucking is truly for everyone. While you might be carrying 20 or 30 pounds in your rucking backpack you’re moving at a constant pace so the rucking is actually low intensity. As a result, rucking is the perfect addition to any training program resulting in more caloric burning and increased fat loss.
Rucking Benefits For Runners
But we’re focusing on how rucking can help you become a better runner and improve your times. Even if you’re lifting weights and running a few days per week, rucking is excellent at building your posterior chain for endurance. The muscles that range from your upper traps all the way to your Achilles tendon get strengthened with rucking particularly if you ruck on a hike with elevated surfaces. This constant motion of steadily walking increases the tendon and ligament strength surrounding these muscles which prevents injuries as well.
Better Aerobic Capacity
More time on your feet equals less fatigue during your runs. Rucking also increases your running times because you’re able to increase your aerobic capacity, your ability to perform on your feet for longer. Let’s saying you’re doing a full body workout. As your upper body fatigues, the lactic acid generated from those reps is going to flow into your lower body as an attempt to clear out of the system. Well when the lactic acid can’t clear, that’s when you hit a wall. By rucking constantly you can condition your lower body to an extra amount of work.
(Here's our sore legs recovery guide)
Should You Run With A Rucksack?
While you have to start slow the answer is absolutely yes, you should run with a lighter weight ruck to start. You’ll notice your mile time will increase by about a minute and a half with a lighter load. Replacing one run per week with a ruck run of shorter distance will allow you to run at a better pace.
Strides When Running: How Rucking Really Helps Runners
Most runners are used to their typical stride length during a average run. Running with a rucksack decreases your stride length but increases your stride frequency. For runners, rucking can actually help them tap into new levels of conditioning by allowing them to train more frequently with less injury potential while tapping into new running specific muscular gains.