Running with more weight on your body sounds fun…right?
Okay, maybe not so much at first glance, especially since many people don’t really like at all, even in in perfect weather and without extra weight.
But, fortunately for us, the benefits of running, especially under the load of more weight, not only makes us stronger but also boosts endurance, and quickly.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of adding a weighted running to our workout regime, and do so without injuring ourselves.
First, find a decent weight vest or backpack/ruck sack. If you choose a vest, you can usually find good ones that allow you to add weights in increments of 5-10 pounds. These vests will allow you to load anywhere from 5-60 pounds (and trust me, 60 pounds is a lot even for a big guy). A vest also allows you to distribute the weight more evenly on the body like any type of body armor, thus making it easier to run with.
A ruck sack allows you to load as much or as little weight as you want, which is an advantage. However, these are trickier because of they way they are positioned on your body. Ruck sacks/backpacks don’t distribute the weight evenly from side to side, so you may have to adjust the pack until it feels right to you.
And here’s another advantage of running/working out with a ruck/backpack: It will mimic equipment many people use on the job, such as air tanks for firefighters and backpacks and such for military/EMS/rescue personnel.
Don’t just get into a run with new weight; start by doing shorter distances and working your way up to longer distance. Walk at first; run later after you’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to the added weight and its distribution.
When you do start running, go slow and again, start with shorter distances. As you get used to the weight, you can add distance.
A safe rule of thumb with most runners is to not increase total distance for the next week by more than 10% of the previous week’s total. So if you’re running a half-mile initially with weight, don’t bump that up more than .5 of a mile, and so forth.
Over time you may want to add weight. If so, just keep repeating the above process above until you get to where you feel like your body is benefitting the most from this exercise and you can handle the weight you’re carrying.
After getting to a point where you can run even a mile with more weight on your body than you would normally be wearing during your shift/mission, you’ll notice you are going to be better able to function at a higher level under the physical stress of your job while bearing your normal load of gear.
When beginning a weighted run regime, remember that your legs, knees, ankles and especially feet will need time to adjust. Running alone can stress these body parts; adding weight can really put a strain on them. So remember to stretch first, warm up, then get into this new routine slowly but deliberately.
You’ll be amazed at the results.
Rich is a former U.S. Army infantryman and member of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The “Old Guard”) who responded to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, as our nation was attacked by international terrorists. He is co-founder of Survival Legion, a vet-owned company that stresses functional fitness and draws it’s uniqueness from the Roman Legions.