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Rucking Tip: The Ruck Shuffle

I did about 5 miles and some change this morning and I want to talk about the difference between ruck shuffling, rucking and ruck running.

What you saw in the CrossFit Games was a ruck run. People were by and large running as fast as they could with weight on their backs, in a rucksack. This is very advanced and I don’t recommend it for most people unless you have a specific application in mind and you have a very resilient body. For more on ruck running (how to do it if you must), check out this video and these 4 tips. When we start saying rucking, it’s more like walking with a rucksack on your back — including ruck marching, which is a slower-paced formation movement that you’ll see on military bases the world over. I don’t want to get into what kind of rucksack constitutes rucking (it’s not exclusive to ALICE Packs or other military rucks the size of a fridge) because to me if you’ve got weight on your back and you’re moving and it’s some type of exercise fitness and you’re moving with action, energy and purpose — to me that’s called rucking.

Okay. So ruck running is like sprinting. You would mostly do it for a fixed distance or a specific amount of time. In the military, the application is when you’re running to skirt gunfire (or maybe even towards it). Rucking or ruck marching, which is equivalent to simply walking with weight on your back – you can do that forever. It’s for longer, slower movements and you’re not really picking up the pace all that much.

Then you’ve got ruck shuffling, also known as the “Airborne Shuffle”. Back to this morning, in my 5 miles and some change – I dropped my kid off at school and that was the only time I authorized myself to stop. My goal was to keep the same pace, around 13-15 minutes/mile, which I can manage from experience (not just by tracking on an app) — this takes some time. What’s hard on your body is going fast, then slow, then fast, then medium, then slow. Keeping a steady pace requires some discipline. Changing gears is hard if you plan to go fast again — meaning, it’s easy to go slower but the goal here is to push a little harder, to pick up the pace and keep it at a good pace the whole time. It’s better to keep a consistent tempo for the duration so for me it was challenging because I haven’t done this in a while. I even did it at 30 pounds, which is lighter than what I usually ruck.

There’s this constant desire when you’re ruck shuffling to want to slow down. It gets harder because the weight stays the same and you say, okay, well I can slow down. That’s the voice you have to silence. You’re basically just picking up your feet just a little bit faster than you normally would. It’s less heel striking than you’ll do when you’re just rucking aka ruck marching aka walking with weight on your back. But ruck shuffling, you’re landing more in the center of your feet because you’re moving forward a little bit more. When you ruck shuffle, the toll on your body is also going to be a lot less than say, ruck running or running for that matter. It’s a challenging way to go just a little bit faster and pick up the tempo and pick your heart rate up just a little bit more – so look to integrate the ruck shuffle into your workout sometime. See if you can pick a pace and hold it. It’s harder than it sounds, and that’s most of the fun.

It was a good workout today. I sweat a lot. My shirt’s drenched and I feel pretty good. Oh, and Monster’s happy, too.


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