Rucking Workout Plan: 6 Weeks to Basic Ruck Fitness

This post was last updated on August 31st, 2019 at 04:00 pm

What is Rucking?

Rucking, tabbing, yomping, etc. Rucking goes by many names, but, it’s quite simply an amazing way to get fit with the aid of a weighted backpack. The history of rucking goes way back to the era of the Roman Empire, a time when troops were drilled with full weighted gear. The practise continued in to the modern era and is now a proven way to ensure troops are hardened to the rigours of moving over long distances whilst carrying large loads on their backs.

Although I’ve already documented some hillwalking fitness tips, this guide goes one step further. It’s aimed at anyone looking for that little extra in their training routine.

Before we delve deeper into this rucking workout plan, let’s take a whistle-stop tour of the terms you might see me use to describe the ‘art of ruck’:

  • Yomping. This term is used by British Royal Marines to describe a 30-mile march over Dartmoor carrying 55lbs in their begins.
  • Tabbing. Likewise, tabbing is a British Army phrase used to describe matching whilst carrying heavy weights aka full battle order.
  • Hanging out. An old military phrase the exact meaning of which is coarse. A polite translation of this term would be something along the lines of: ‘Good Lord, I seem to be somewhat worn out from that massive exertion.’

The practise has expanded into the civilian word where many companies have adopted the phrase and built training plans, even businesses, around the idea.

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Hillwalking Essentials | A Beginners Guide to Hillwalking Skills

Before we delve into this hillwalking essentials list, let’s take a moment to explore the meaning of hillwalking.

Hillwalking Essentials number one - hills to walk up. Buckinghamshire hills and ridges.
The hills and ridges of Bucks are a great place to test your hillwalking skills.

In the UK, the phrase hillwalking is used to describe the activity of walking on hills and mountains. In some parts of the country this pastime is known as fell walking. Unless you’re in the Armed Forces, this activity is recreational. If you’re like me then the aim of hillwalking is to visit the summits. Although a nice walk up Wittenham Clumps is equally stunning.

Hillwalking is a phrase that covers many other activities. A large number of people view hiking, backpacking and mountaineering to be close relations of hillwalking. I love all aspects of the outdoors and am not going to quibble over words. Terrain covered can include mountains, high moorland, remote passes and coastal walks.

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First time marathon tips: A graphic

This post was last updated on July 31st, 2020 at 11:48 am

As we are well into marathon-running season, I am sure that there are some readers who are preparing for their first marathon. A while ago I wrote a blog post with a few tips for making the whole experience a bit easier – not the training and racing itself, but just some logistical things that a lot of people don’t always think of. I’ve now turned these first time marathon tips into a little graphic, partly as an experiment but partly because I thought people might be more likely to read it!

Marathon Tips
marathon tips and hints
Marathon running hints.

The infographic was originally hosted on Adventure Embassy and I brought it over to when I joined James in this venture.

Running safety tips

This post was last updated on August 11th, 2020 at 10:33 am

Running is not exactly an extreme sport, but it has its risks nevertheless, and sometimes it’s easy to forget how vulnerable you are running along country lanes, or running alone in potentially risky areas, especially at night. So, here are a few running safety tips, and some products to consider.

Plan your route

This is relevant for both avoiding traffic accidents and for avoiding the (very low, to be fair) risk of being the victim of crime while out running. It’s sort of a shame to have to plan ahead, rather than just run freely, but it’s worth it so that you don’t find yourself blindly running into a more dangerous area. That might be somewhere where you could be seen as a target for crime, or an area that may increase your vulnerability to traffic, such as narrow winding roads with high hedges.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t run in such places, but it’s important to do it knowingly, having considered the risks and mitigated them if you can, rather than unknowingly because you just went for a plod with your headphones in and didn’t think about where you might end up.

Take a phone

I never run without a phone anymore. iPhones have got so big that they no longer fit into my running shorts pocket, but I generally run with an Osprey Duro 1.5 running vest to help carry it, and other kit. A smartphone will help you find your way if you get lost, it’ll allow you to call for help if you get injured, it’ll let you call a friend if you get stuck or have to abandon the run, and it’ll give you a chance of calling the police if you get into real trouble. For the minor inconvenience of having to find a pocket to put it in, it’s crazy not to take a phone. If your running shorts don’t have pockets, I’m a big fan of the Y-Fumble arm pouch, which is simple, lightweight, non-slip and the perfect size for an iPhone. If this doesn’t work for you, though, there are plenty of other options out there.

Light yourself up

Probably the most important running safety tip is to make sure you’re visible to other road or trail users. If you’re running exclusively on the pavement in a well-lit city then you might be alright, but for anywhere else you need to do some extra work to be seen. If I’m running on trails or country roads in the dark, I use a headtorch such as the Petzl Tikka headlamp, mainly to see where I’m going but also of course to make myself visible from the front, as well as a flashing red light clipped to the back of my running shorts or hydration vest. And sometimes, if I’m going somewhere really dark, a yellow reflective belt or even running top. It’s worth having a few bits and bobs like that so that if the only time you have to go running is when it’s dark, there’s never that feeling of “oh, I should go, but I don’t have a torch/red light/reflective top, so it’s better if I don’t”. Having the right kit for any circumstances always makes you more likely to run, and that’s a good thing (I take the same approach for running when it’s very hot or running when it’s very cold, which is why I have a set of yaktrax in my running cupboard…)

Plan for the worst

Especially on long-distance runs, don’t assume that just because you’ve planned a lovely circular route, or a run from one train station to another, or to be met by a friend 20 miles down the road, doesn’t mean that something won’t go wrong. Being stuck with a minor injury a few miles from home can be inconvenient. Being stuck with a twisted ankle ten or fifteen miles from the train station on a freezing cold day could be more than just inconvenient, and actually dangerous. Relying on being able to run home isn’t a good idea; assume you might have to hobble, and plan for what you would do if that happened. If it’s a city run in an area you’re familiar with then it might be enough just taking a mobile phone (see point 2) and perhaps a £5 note so you can buy a drink in a warm pub while you wait for rescue, or get a bus home (or in London, just take your oyster card). On the other hand if it’s a long run in the countryside where phone signal might be ropey then take a warm jacket; a down jacket is extremely warm and light and squashes down to a tiny ball (check out our post on the best down jackets for men). It may even be worth carrying £20 or £30 in case your only option is to call a taxi.

All this might seem unnecessary, but the one time you do end up stuck in the middle of nowhere you’ll be glad you listened to me.

Keep emergency contact an medical details on you

I always used to be a bit paranoid about the idea of being killed or seriously injured out running and no one knowing who I was. It seems a bit morbid to think about too much, but if something does happen, you might want emergency services to be easily able to get in touch with someone, and potentially to be aware of anything that might affect your treatment such as allergies or medications. Some people also like to have their blood type somewhere visible, although in the UK they will never give you blood without checking your type anyway.

There are various options for this sort of thing, whether it is snazzy custom wristbands, old-fashioned military-style dog-tags, or just writing some details on one hand in permanent marker as I used to do.

Dr StrangeGlove, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Snow: Winter Hiking Tips

This post was last updated on September 25th, 2020 at 03:17 pm

This winter, I decided to throw myself into as many cold-weather hikes/activities as I could fit into my schedule. Thus far (mid-February at time of writing) that’s meant summits of a handful of White Mountain 4k’ers (Mt. Carrigain, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Flume) and a nice afternoon skiing by myself on the beginner friendly slopes at Blue Hills.

Mt Carrigain is definitively the coldest hike I’ve ever been on – 14 miles in deep snow, with trailhead temperatures of -22C and windchill on the exposed ridge below the summit (see the main photo) down in the low minus-thirties. Brrrr. Mt. Moriah was a mite less brutal – although the snow on the route was almost completely unpacked due to a thick layer of fresh powder, and so the going was a bit tougher, fitness-wise.

I learned some useful lessons about gear that will work its way into some of the reviews that I will write in the near-future, but I thought I’d note down some things that might not be obvious (or at least, weren’t to me – or took some prior research).

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Packing for a day trail run | Tips from the Trail

This post was last updated on July 28th, 2020 at 02:51 pm

You don’t need much for a one-day run, even a long one, but if you’re doing a trail run out somewhere a bit more ‘wilderness-y’, even if only for a few hours, then there are a few things you’ll need. Here’s what I take.

OMM ultra-15 backpack - perfect for a day trail run
OMM Ultra-15 pack, I love this!
  • Bag: OMM Ultra 15 – a beautifully light bag that’s got plenty of space for a one day run, hooks and channels for a camelbak, and side and belt pouches for easy access to snacks and gadgets. It also has a whistle in the chest strap which isn’t exactly a must-have but probably a worthwhile safety feature when running in a national park.

In a medium-sized drybag:

  • Lightweight rain shell. The one I use is the ‘free’ one that London Marathon handed out a couple of years ago to people who didn’t get in via the lottery. It’s neither as light nor as waterproof as the best ones on the market (Nike, Patagonia, amongst others) but it was free (sort of) and it does the job.
  • Down jacket. Way too hot to run in, but useful for keeping warm on the train home. The one I’ve got is rated down to -5 which is overkill for early autumn in the UK but given I’m trying to keep my pack light, it’s useful having a post-run jacket that, in a pinch, could double as an emergency ‘broke my leg and have to stay the night in the open’ jacket. Check out this resource for some of the down jackets we’ve reviewed.
  • Clean t-shirt. Not vital, but much appreciated on the train home, not least by those who have to sit next to you…

In a small drybag:

  • Phone, keys, wallet etc. also a penknife but only really because I carry one everyday anyone.

To wear:

  • Nike dryfit shorts and tshirt
  • Brooks Ghosts running shoes or Salomon trail shoes, depending on the terrain
  • Asics running cap, one I got from the Marathon de Paris
  • Buff, also from the Marathon de Paris


  • 1.5 l Camelbak of water
  • A handful of gels
  • In the case of Tuesday’s run, I was trialling dried banana chips and Peperamis, as I’ve heard they can be good for the Marathon des Sables