Training Guidance: ‘The 2-Miler’
You will be aware by now of the MVT Rifleman Challenge. We have yet to schedule the first qualification weekend, but expect something around spring 2015. I don’t want to go for January or February, in case of snow on the ground.
So let’s talk training for the 2-Miler. This is the test:
PT Test: ‘2 miler’:’
30 lb ruck, rifle. MVT 2 mile course run as an individual. The MVT course is hilly and more challenging than a standard 2-miler route:
Goal: Sub 22 minutes:
Rifleman Pass: Sub 25 minutes
Rifleman Reserve Pass: Sub 30 minutes
The 2-Miler is an individual best effort event, designed to simulate a rapid movement to relieve troops in contact. It is a physical and mental challenge that will asses an individual’s aptitude for the Rifleman role. It tests physical fitness, heart and determination.
Slings may be used on rifles, but the rifle must not be carried on the back or on/in the ruck. It must be carried either to the front of the body or at the trail.
Note: for training purposes, for the 2-Miler run on a flat or gently rolling course, the goal is sub-18 min.
Simple Man’s Training advice:
First off, start by easing into this and working on your cardiovascular fitness and body-weight strength. You must listen to your body and avoid over-training. This is one of the hardest things to do. You must try and avoid injury, because that will set everything back. So you must ease into the training from whatever start point you are at. See the doctor if necessary to get cleared for this sort of exertion. As you ease into this you will strengthen you body composition – muscles, bone, ligaments, tendons, and thus help with the more strenuous activities and reduce the chance of injury.
You need to work on three main aspects of your fitness:
Cardiovascular endurance fitness: i.e. relativity longer distance steady state running.
Cardiovascular ‘best effort’ fitness: i.e. anaerobic activity where you cannot breath enough to get all the oxygen that you need.
Body-weight strength: the ability to move your own body. This sort of training involves activities such as pull-ups, push-ups, dips, sit-ups etc.
If you are overweight, you need to lose it. Whether you are over-weight through fat, unneeded vanity muscle bulk, or both. You need to master ‘the push’ back from the table. Give up on all that fast food crap. Give up on the high fructose corn syrup. Think of some sort of hybrid paleo diet where you reduce calories and up the protein, just not as extreme as paleo. Fat is fine. Just make sure you take in enough calories to feed your training and recovery – don’t train hard while starving yourself. Make sure your diet is healthy and sufficient, and think about dietary supplements such as glucosamine-chondroitin etc for joint and muscle health.
The following points about rucking are important:
- Build up to it. Start off light.
- Don’t go to excess. Your training weights should be 30 – 55 lb. There is no need to carry the kitchen sink.
- Rucking is the least of the activities that you need to do. maybe once a week, twice at the most. The rest of the time you work on your fitness foundation.
- ‘Tabbing’ is an acquired skill. It is a mix of running downhill, shuffling on the flat, and walking uphill. The walking part is a speed walk where you extend the legs and swing the arms. Before you get used to the speed walking, you may feel pain in the front of your shins as the muscles adapt.
- Running downhill with weight puts a lot of load on the body. Don’t do it all the time. It is the best way to make speed across the ground operationally, but in training it makes more sense to run uphill and walk down!
- The 2-Miler is a run/shuffle so it is different from a normal ruck march. Those who are used to ‘rucking’ will have to make a mental adjustment.
- In training, it is useful to vary longer marches with heavier weight, with shorter lighter speed ruck runs. For the long heavy ones, don’t even run downhill. Just work hard on the uphill and then take it steady on the down. You are building strength and endurance without tempting injury. I wouldn’t do the ruck runs very often, maximum once a week.
- Carry your ruck weight in bulkier items. Pack light at the bottom of your ruck and heavier at the top . A sleeping bag on the bottom works well. Carry your overall weight in bulkier items – don’t go for super heavy single items like ammo cans or similar – it will form a ‘cannon ball ‘ swinging on your back and make it harder.
- Tape up your feet – heels and balls of the feet as necessary – using strips of sport tape, in order to reduce blisters, When running, you may get ruck burn across the kidney area – if so, tape this area up as well.
- Use orthopedic insoles. You can ruck in boots for ankle support, but there is nothing wrong with doing a ruck run on pavement in running shoes. Make sure you have a high vis belt or bib across the camouflage tactical ruck you are running with, to avoid getting run over!
- Don’t worry too much about carrying a rifle – just pack a little heavier to compensate. If your arm strength is fine, then it will be fine on the day. Do it with a rifle every now and then when you can.
You should be training 5 or 6 times a week depending on your schedule and how your body feels. Don’t go hard all the time. Steady runs are good to ‘recover’ from other harder days. Cardio is the priority so you won’t have dedicated ‘strength days’ but rather do strength as part of circuit training, or alternate muscle group days at the end of the cardio effort.
Steady state running: example 3-5 miles. If you are not yet at this point, then speed walk.
Interval Training: vary running, sprinting and walking in succession throughout the run, either on a track or for set distances, such as between lamp posts or power poles.
Hill Running/Sprints: seek out hills and add a number of repetitions to your run. Sprint up and jog down.
Cycling: great for low impact endurance. You can also get a great leg strength workout by doing it all wrong according to the pros: find a hill, put it in high gear, and stand on the pedals. Make it as hard as your legs and the gears will allow, so you have to force your legs to pedal you up the hill. You also have to pull hard on the handle bars, which sort of simulates a rifle!
Rucking: steady state rucking with heavier weight. Walking, hills if possible. Max 55 lb ruck.
Ruck running: example 3 mile ruck run in running gear with 30-40 lb ruck.
Circuit Training: mix strength with cardio. Shuttle sprints are a great idea, with exercises at the end of 20 meter shuttles. The cardio is the priority – make it about that, and speed, not about lifting.
Rowing: a great low impact exercise that you can insert to break up the impact of running and rucking. the ‘Concept II ergometer’ rowing machine is excellent . Most gyms have them. You can do interval sprints or long steady states on a rower. Practice good technique and do from 5000 – 7500 meters per session.
Swimming: great cardio and conditioning exercise. Again, you can mix sprint laps with steady state swimming. Great low impact exercise if you are injured or just need to have a break from the rucking.
‘Gym Machines’: exercise machines such as the elliptical are generally utterly useless fitness and will do nothing at all for your running or rucking. They only suit as maintenance or low impact alternatives if you are injured.
Push days: Chest, shoulders, Triceps: Push-ups, dips. There is no need to for personal best on the bench. It does you no good whatsoever. Its just vanity useless fitness, I know, I’ve done enough of it. It is simply ‘Operation Massive’ for vanity muscle.
Pull days: Back and biceps: Pull ups. Rows.
Core: make sure you work your core with sit ups and or whatever the current fad for core exercise is.
These upper body exercises will normally take place after you have done your cardio workout. It is also good practice to train to be able to lift after a run: to fight after the approach.
Notice that rucking is only a small part of how you should train for the 2-Miler. It is about all-round fitness. A lot of the 2-Miler is mental anyway – it is simply a run, but with a ruck on your back and a weapon in your hands.
So how does this work:
Alternate more intense workouts with easier steady state ones. Work in your strength training. I never found leg workouts to be that beneficial – your legs need rest from all the work anyway, and once you get on the hills, they will get smoked. Get a long ruck in every now and again when you can: the best way is to actually get to some hills on the weekend and do some hiking with weight. Throw in a ruck run in place of a normal run once a week. Other time, do low impact alternative workouts in order to not get bored and to avoid injury.
When I trained for P Company I did a lot of long hard runs and interval/hill training, along with tabbing (rucking). When I did UKSF selection I was older and wiser and knew all about injury so I would alternate an intense run over hills with 2 hour-ish cycle rides over hilly terrain. At the weekends I would go hiking, and every so often I would take a week and go to the mountains to ruck the hills: one time I did the actual routes in Brecon and Elan Valley, another time I just went to the Lake District, another mountainous area, because I just enjoyed it more. I just hiked long days.
Now, we are not training for the longer marches, just the 2-Miler, but it all still applies. Once you have your fitness squared away, and have some familiarity with the techniques of running with a ruck, then it is just a case of heart and determination to get it done in the required time. It will go a long way to making you effective in combat.
The video below is illustrative. It shows an otherwise very fit individual attempting some of the P Company events with some Para Reserve recruits. It shows how training has to be appropriate and it also has a lot to do with mindset and intestinal fortitude. The obvious muscle type fitness is often misleading and unhelpful.
No doubt I have forgotten things. I will put anything else I recall in comments.