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Veteran GrowRuck Advice from an Old Marathoner Runner

by HoneyPot
Double Respect, HIM among HIMs and OG of F3 St. Louis


Having run several marathons in a previous life, I can tell you that GrowRuck is a lot like a marathon. A lot of your success will be dependent on your preparation leading up to the event. As the date approaches, I want to give a couple practical tips.  Many of these have already been repeatedly shared over the last several months, but are worth repeating:

By this point (June 27), your level of fitness on July 17 is as good as it is going to get. Pushing yourself on long, hard rucks over the next couple of weeks will not make you stronger. It takes about three weeks for a given workout to have a positive effect on your muscle strength or endurance.

Care for any injuries. If something is hurting, back off and let it heal. At this point, continuing to exercise on an injured muscle is totally counter-productive. Get plenty of rest to again give your body time to rejuvenate.

Have all of your equipment together at least a week before GrowRuck. You don’t want to find out on Friday night that you forgot/need something.

Along these lines, figure out what you are going to wear.  The three most important things to consider are socks, underwear, and whether you want to wear shorts or long pants. I would strongly suggest some type of athletic underwear, which will help prevent chafing. Personally, I like the long biker-shorts type of underwear (Editor’s note: thanks for the mental image, HP).

I am going to wear shorts. As you may have noticed, I sweat a bit. I want every chance to be as cool as possible. I will worry about the chiggers later.  If you do wear long pants, make sure that they are very light-weight hiking pants that are flexible (think burpees) and dry quickly.

If your shoes are worn out, this is the time to buy a near pair so that they can be broken-in by the time the ruck rolls around. I am also going to wear short, ankle gaiters to try to keep rocks and sand out of my shoes.

They are requiring that we carry six liters (6L) of liquid with us. Certainly, there are many ways to carry this amount of water. You definitely want to have a bladder with a hose that you can frequently drink from when you are on the move. The largest one that I have seen is three liters, but maybe there are bigger ones.

Options for the remaining three liters is a second bladder or some water bottles. There will be plenty of time during the even to pull a bottle out of your rucksack to either drink from directly or refill the bladder.

Determine if you want just water or some type of sports drink. Personally, I like to have both. I like the calories and electrolytes from the sports drink but also find the straight water to be very refreshing. Keeping electrolytes replenished is very important. Something salty like a bag of potato chips can help to replenish electrolytes. I also carry a few electrolyte replenishment tablets.

Figure out what you are going to eat on the ruck. I recommend that you eat essentially nothing but carbs. Fat and protein do not supply quick energy. I really like the little GU (or other brands) energy packets. They are easy to open and consume. You can get them at any running story, REI, etc.

Other options are bags of candy, dates, other dried fruits, jelly/honey sandwich, etc.  Just remember that it is going to be hot and some of these can get really sticky and difficult to eat.

In the week leading up to GrowRuck, rest and get plenty of sleep.  Also, eat plenty of carbs to help carbo-load. Personally, I like pasta and rice-based meals. Minimize or completely stop alcohol. It is a mild diuretic and can also lower heat tolerance. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!

You should be constantly drinking fluids during the week leading up to the event. Personally, I drink a lot of sports drinks to make sure that my electrolyte levels are good.

Though I realize that not everyone is plant-based, I would highly recommend minimizing animal products and all fatty foods for 72 hours before the event. There is no doubt that fatty foods impair vascular function. Again, just push the carbs.

This is an awesome event.  It will be tough, and I can guarantee that somewhere around 3 a.m. you are going to ask yourself why you signed up for this. But knowing the caliber of men that comprise F3 St. Louis, I have no doubt that we will all be there at the end. Remember, though this is a very physical event, it is really all about the second F. Be there for your brothers and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Feel free to ask me any questions.

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