Norwegin Foot March

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#1
Hey,

Does anyone have any experience participating in the Norwegian Foot March challenge?

I volunteered to represent my unit at the event and I really want to do to well.
It's 18.6 miles with a 25 lb. ruck in under 4.5 hours. I'll be competing in South Texas in less than a month.

I already ruck 60 lbs. for 6 miles 1-2x a month with no real issue. I routinely complete that in 1.5 hours with absolutely 0 running. I know a good deal about packing a ruck, but I'm definitely open to learning some new skills and tricks to make this ordeal easier. I really want to wear this badge for my commissioning.

Norwegian Foot March.jpg
And before anyone says anything about AR 670 regulations about it, it is approved under my chain of command.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#2
Vaerg dit Land
"Protect this Country"
https://www.reddit.com/r/norsk/comments/9xsmr1 Explanation of the name

This is an AAR and explanation of my experience as well as a lot of tips and tricks that I used during the event. Read previous post some of the rules. In addition, only the weight in your counted. Nothing on a FLC/LBV/Plate Carrier would count. A combat uniform is required, so regular OCPs or the under armor type shirts with regular sleeves. Must be a military issued ruck.

Women's regulations were the same except they had 5:15:00, so an extra 45 minutes. If you were 35 or older congratulations! You get a whopping 5 more minutes. I think this speaks to the Norwegian military mindset: STFU and perform a soldier's task. The test was originally designed to show that for recruits and as I understand it, this is part of their basic training. Very similar to 12 mile rucks with usually 45 lbs or more in the U.S. Army. during Basic Training or Basic Camp for ROTC Cadets. The Norwegian Foot March has to be run, but I think it's relatively safe with the 25 lbs before water. The U.S. Army has a different method of a lot heavier weight for a shorter distance at a slightly slower pace. 45+ lbs in 3 hours vs. 25+ lbs in 4.5 hours. There's a clear ratio of what they expect someone to be capable of and move it where they see it better fits their methods of operation.

I finished in 4:22:something, about 23/90. My pacing was 1 minute running and 1.5 - minutes of range walking. My range walk was roughly 4 inches a second slower than most people's airborne shuffles that I saw for the first 2 thirds of the event. Our Stage was set up in 3 laps around 6.1 perimeter with an extra 300 meters stuck at the back. I slowed done quite a bit during the last two miles because my groin muscles were tightening. I was afraid of not being able to walk to class on Monday or pulling my groin. I have very important assessment training coming up, so I ended up letting 10 or so people pass. I finished 4th out of my unit, but 2 of them passed me in the last 400 meters. I actually sprinted the last 50 meters to motivate someone next to me and then continued to motivate others after dropping my ruck. I helped a guy pass who probably wouldn't have made the time otherwise, so I feel really good about that. I reported a guy I saw cheating on the trail(he only cut 10 meters off at most, I have no idea why he did it), but he ended up not passing anyways, so it didn't matter.

My feet:
I wore 2 Fox River Fatigue Fighter socks
https://www.amazon.com/FoxRiver-Fat...+Mills,+Inc.&qid=1553389947&s=apparel&sr=1-85

I wore the first pair inside out and the outer pair right side out. This way the fuzzy parts would connect and reduce friction. I had foot powder in each sock and my boots. I pre-applied a large moleskin padding to the front balls of my feet where I get blisters as my feet are not very tough. Lesson learned: Good idea, but have the moleskin wrap up on the side as 3 of my 6 blisters are on the sides of my big toe knuckles. They are also the worst ones. The rest of them were higher up my foot up on my toes. Cutting the moles skin better would have really helped me and would have only taken an extra 30 seconds. Try and have a buddy help and use a pencil/pen to mark it.

With wearing two socks, it comes from one of two schools of thought on feet with rucks, so we have to go back. The goal: reduce friction as much as possible so as to keep your skin layers from separating. That's what blisters are. 1st school - make your feet slick. This train of thought usually involves dress socks and or packaging/duct tape on your actual feet. It definitely works, but not the route I wanted to go. Your feet can't breath too well and that bothers me as I sweat through my feet quite a bit.
2nd school - Fill the boot and reduce space to move while applying lots of friction through your socks, rather than your feet. You might go with a thinner inside sock, say a dress sock, but the point is that you fill out your boots and have little to no room for the foot to move. If the foot can't move inside, then friction can't be applied against it nearly as well. This is due to inertia and the frictional force of your socks against each other and the boot. This worked really well for me and it was the first time I tried it. I'm going to have to get more socks now though lol.

As to my blisters, I think the primary reasons I had blisters were because my feet are not tough rn and I was wearing very lightweight boots.
http://www.garmont.com/en/products/tactical/t8-nfs-670-gtx
I recommend Garmont. There are many great boots, but Garmont has been in the business the longest(Vietnam) and a really great product line.


Boots:
There are very good reasons for wearing heavy boots and very good reasons to wear lightweight boots.

Lightweight:
It's WAAAAY Easier.
https://adventure.howstuffworks.com...g/one-pound-off-feet-five-pounds-off-back.htm
Soldiers have known for a really long time that the lighter the boot you have to swing with every step, the less energy you have to expend. The Army studied this back in the 80s. The above link references that study and others.
While not exact, the general rule is - 1 lb off your feet is 5 lbs off your ruck in energy expenditure.

The downsides though are also big, IF you don't have tough feet. Lighter weight boots do not protect your feet from impacts nearly as much. You will feel every rock and every slip a lot more in your feet. If your feet are tough and or don't have to ruck for work, then it doesn't matter too much.

If you don't have to comply with Army/Air Force boots regulations, GORuck makes the best available for this type. It doesn't comply because the boots aren't tall enough and therefore don't provide as much ankle protection. These aren't the boots you want to go rucking in Afghanistan with. Go with the Garmonts, Danner tacticals or Oakleys if you want lightweight. A few extra ounces for a lot more ankle support.
https://www.goruck.com/macv-1-lookbook/

Heavy boots:
They will exhaust you and slow you down. But there are 2 big advantages to heavier boots. 1, your feet are much more protect from fatigue. 2, you have a lot more mass on your boot for kicking down doors. Kind of a niche thing, but physics gets a vote and the door is more likely to break with less kicks. Another bonus is that these are generally cheaper to mass produce because there is no knew research involved.
The standard issue U.S. Army boots are pretty good for this role, but there are others. Most brands only make middleweight or lightweight boots, but Garmont has some well respected heavier boots. The Army has noted that around 50% of all soldiers are buying aftermarket boots. The G.I.'s are either tolerated or hated.

Recently, the Army has expressed interest in moving to a lighter weight boot as this is what most soldiers complain about. It's probably good idea considering the veeery small amount of many soldiers get paid.

Rucks at the event:
I used a Molle 2 rucksack. https://www.amazon.com/MOLLE-II-Ruc...=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B0046QT4BA
I have this exact ruck. Most ROTC haven't switched over to the OCP patter and still use the ACUs, unless they're SMP and receive their kit from their guard unit. I saw well over 10 people with the old alice packs from the 70s. As someone who heavily uses my hips with the waist strap, I felt really bad for them. The alice pack system is heavier without a capacity or compartmentalization gain and also only really uses the shoulder straps according to an old army study I don't want to look up rn. The current molle system was designed and is field by the British and American militaries. It's a pretty effective ruck system, but I think there will be a replacement by 2030 now that the military has finished the Gerald R. Ford class carriers and the F35s. Money will hopefully go towards developing better standard issue equipment or (and this is better) having a preapproved list of equipment with clothing allowance. I wouldn't advise that for someone coming into basic as enlisted, but it would be much easier for a lot of people who are NCOs or Officers and are more established financially.

How I set up my ruck:
I went to Wal-Mart and bought one 5 lb plate, one 10 lb plate, a strap that I didn't use and the highest strength paracord they had. I paracord the plates together with the 5 lb offset to one edge of the 10 lb plate. I then set up that edge of the plate as high as possible on my ruck, just under the flap. I ran paracord through it and the shoulder buttresses(idk what else to call it) with as little play as I could get. I made a thick paracord handle inbetween with a nub in the center so I would be able to index my hand on it without looking. I ran the back down the ruck and across my camelbak that was strapped across the top, above the flap. I took the last bit and strapped to the bottom of the plastic ruck frame tightly before finishing it with a simple stop knot. I made sure my ruck as strapped as tight as possible to reduce everything down and then I taped up the straps with black duct tape. 1" bike tire inner tubes are better and serve as a great fire starter, but I didn't have any around at the time.
The above weighed in at 26.9 lbs. I probably could have dropped my sustainment pouches on the sides to get it at exactly 25, but I really didn't want to have to put them back on later, so I left them.
It worked very well in that the weights didn't swing around at all, which would have sucked. The whole thing like I was wearing a weight vest with only 5 lbs at the top, so it worked like a charm. I got a good look at all of the rucks there and I definitely has the best packed one. It pays to pack and repack your ruck. I restrapped the weights and packed the ruck 3 times. Each time I got better at it and it felt better. Practice makes perfect. 1st time took me 1.5 hours(including time to strap the weights together, which I didn't repeat). 3rd and final time, I did it in 5 minutes and better than before. All I did was experiment with a solid working knowledge of the fundamentals of packing a ruck.
1. Concentrate the weight.
2. Keep the weight high.
3. Ensure mobility, comfort and symmetry

Steps to packing a ruck
Pack the ruck with the heaviest stuff at the top. Try to only use the topmost compartments of your ruck. Now, sit on the floor with your ruck and press your feet into the frame while the other end is against a wall or your buddy is hold it down. Pull the main straps as you push with your feet. Don't tighten as much as you possibly can, 95% it. Do this on the other side. Repeat and get 10-20% on each side. DO this process 2-3x and your ruck will be as tight as it can possibly be. If you're tall with your legs like me then this will be more difficult, but that also makes you a better runner and overall a better build for a soldier as you can ruck more easily with smaller vitals area, but that's just a theory of mine and maybe for another post.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#3
@Matt Landfair

Could you tag some notable members that have military experience, particularly the Army and the Marines so I can get some feedback on the event, my performance and adding additional tips and tricks for packing a ruck and rucking in general.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#4
Additional Notes-

My Method at the NFM Cont.
I ran up all hills, If I came to a hill, regardless of where my count was at for the timer, I would run up the hill for 60 seconds. If for whatever reason I wasn't at the top yet, I would just keep running until I was. The theory is, I want to speed up my slowest time to help my average.
Running up hill + walking fast downhill < walking fast uphill + running downhill. How fast you overcome the hill will be a matter of having the fastest 2 times you can have of uphill and downhill. My range walk is already pretty fast and I can't run too fast downhill without potentially really hurting myself, so I run uphill to cut down on that time and range walk to mitigate what I lose from not running down it. If I don't run down the hill.

My Build:
I'm 21, 6'1 leaning towards the legs. This makes rucking faster and easier on me then most people. It's also just a fantastic exercise that I love doing.

Underwear:
You do NOT want to chafe. I suggest wearing either MMA style compression underwear or ranger panties. What I mean by "MMA style compression underwear" is that they go past mid thigh. This makes it where you physically can't chafe and it's much less likely to bunch up. Ranger panties are loose and provide a lot more breathability.
I wear the old APFU shorts with the webbing cut out. It's cheaper than most ranger panties if I remember correctly. I already had a bunch, so it worked out.
http://www.wcbtrading.com/cart.php?...eatured_product&product_id=403&category_id=48

Where to step:
make it easy on yourself. Don't walk on the gravel rocks. Usually where the tires roll on the road has the least rocks, so follow that path. This makes your feet hurt a little less.

How to Range Walk:
Lean slightly forward, say 80 degree angle. You want the weight directly over your hips. Also, extend your stride very far. You want to be striding about 90% of your absolutely maximum stride you can take without wobbling. This will make you faster, but also less stable. So, those muscles on the outside of your hips that you never even knew you had are going to get sore from correcting your balance more than they ever have before. But you'll be faster.

How Sonic Walk:
This is something I have never seen anyone else talk about, but is useful trick. Standing in your ruck position and then squat down 1-3 inches. This is make you able to walk, hence Sonic Walk, much faster. Downsides: Your hamstrings are much more engaged to keep you from falling, so it is more exhausting.
 

Fatboy

Established
#5
Biggest thing I'll offer as critique is the boots/ socks. Thick socks are nice for cushion. They also make your feet sweat quicker, which leads to friction, which leads to blisters.
Try a thinner sock (I used to wear Thorlo's then switched to Xstatic brand when I was in). Add in a decent boot that fits your feet, tie them tight around the foot, then start walking.
The point of your training marches should be two fold- 1. condition your feet to walk with weight and not fall apart 2. Condition your body to carry the weight the required distance. Infantry life will suck at times because you are the pack mule. The only way to get used to that is to train that way.

Having said all of that, someone else might be along to offer different advice. Find out what works for you, more importantly when you get to a real unit find out from your senior NCO's what they do then modify that to suit your needs.
 

chasnojm

Regular Member
#6
Experience: USMC Infantry, 0302. 8 years, I've been rucking longer than that (2008ish start).

My terms: Rucking: running with a pack, hiking: forced march with a pack/under load.

Equipment: Alice type ruck, (you can use the TT super pads/straps or regular stuff) The welded frame is a nice to have as the original riveted frame can snap under heavy use. The big thing is to have a sternum strap of some sort. Drink tube management is important too if you are using camelbacks/canteen straws.

I used the Danner Reckoning boots.

My distances and times: ( weight: must be 45# dry , Add 1 full camelback + 2Qt Canteen of water ( and food (including emergency unopened MRE))
8 mile average: 1:35-38
10 mile: 1:52
12 mile: 2:20

My takeaways: Merino medium weight boot socks are a game changer (Smart Wool/Farm to Feet). Good stiff/plastic insert insoles help protect you feet from impact while on pavement. Use a sandbag for weight over the steel. Honestly, If you can make weight with a packing list, its better than deadweight. Recovery items for the end are better served than sand or steel. The roll/out cane comes to mind.

The biggest thing to speed up is to interval run/walk-shuffle. Meaning run for five minutes, walk for 1 minute. I typically run hard for 10-20 minutes of the start to get ahead of the pack, then turn over to my interval and the final mile, I just go all out within reason (you have to be able to execute when you get to where you go).

Nutrition plan is critical. I put the provided drip-drop powder in my camelback and a 50/50 mix of Gatorade and pedialyte in the 2 quart (with drink tube). You need to eat something within that first mile. You need to eat something you can keep down. I kept a combo of energy gels and baby food in the squeeze pouches. I look for high carb, potassium, sodium items. I'd eat something about every 20-30 minutes.

Ankle mobility is crucial: the more mobility you have and stability will allow you to recover from minor rolls etc.

If you have any direct questioning, I can hit them up.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#7
In the future I am switching to a thinner inner sock, such as a dress sock.

Thank you both very much. I'll be attending another FTX this upcoming weekend in the brush desert, so I'll get to apply these hints. In the future, I think I might go with a heavier boot. The Garmonts I'm wearing are 18 ounces and I'm having feet problems with them that I've never had with other boots that are only a little heavier. I have a pair of Danner Tachyons(26 oz.) that I'll try out this weekend and see if the problem is me or the extremely lightweight Garmonts.
 

chasnojm

Regular Member
#9
What foot problems are you having? I deal with PF sometimes which is a result of overtraining/under recovery. This is why having good dorsiflexion and good mobility is crucial.

I have some Spenco Rx Orthotic full length insoles. I have relatively flat feet so it helps with arch support. The biggest thing is not to ruck too much and damage yourself beyond recovery. You need to be stretching and then rolling out for about 1 hr a night depending on your training cycle.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#10
I am having 2 problems. 1, planter fasciitis or something similar where my foot muscles are just overworked. 2, I get blisters just behind my toes/on the front balls of my feet that I never used to get during similar training.

I have feet that are barely above clinically flat, so getting arch support really helps.
 
#11
I am having 2 problems. 1, planter fasciitis or something similar where my foot muscles are just overworked. 2, I get blisters just behind my toes/on the front balls of my feet that I never used to get during similar training.

I have feet that are barely above clinically flat, so getting arch support really helps.
If you have not been using a lacross ball on your feet, or a SKLZ roller to roll your feet out, it helps. My feet are frequently tight.
That may or may not fix your problem, and it will be painful when first starting.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#12
@RobbieRob
I did roll my feet quite a bit and it helped me get over it faster, but it didn't solve the issue. Thank you for reaching out!

I actually solved both issues with 1 change. Ironically, it was me going a step backwards. Punny.

I was wearing my Garmont NFS.
https://store.garmont.com/shop-en/tactical/481996205107410.html

Quick Mafs: These weigh 18.5 ounces per boot, but notice they have a very equal distribution of weight from the sole to the top of the ankle support.

My Danner Tachyons actually weigh about 13 ounces per pair. It's substantially less material to work with, but they're much better at protecting my feet. Why?
https://www.danner.com/men/military/coyote/tachyon-8-coyote.html

The Tachyons have as little weight as possible in the ankle support. They maximized all of weight in the sole for comfort and the durability of the main body of the shoe. They came in better fitting, have worn muuuuch better than the Garmont NFSs and most importantly, I have 0 problems with my feet now. No planter fasciitis. No Blisters. Nothing. Having full bodied soles made all the difference.

Basically, I learned a valuable lesson about boot construction and I'm happy to say that my Tachyons are amazing. Been using them pretty hard for ~3 years and they still look better than my NFSs that have only 4 months of wear.
 
#14
Hey Brother Bear: I have been known to hump a ruck here and there. It sounds like you have it going on. I have found that a general, overall fitness program, where you run, lift, and hump a ruck works best, versus trying to specialize in ruck running for times. Maybe just me but this has given me best results. I will also mix up stuff, like for weekly runs, where you have speed days, or hill repeats, or long run, etc. I will mix it up by wearing the ruck on different workouts each week. So that you get to work on speed intervals, hills, distance, etc. rather than a steady diet of just mashing it at the same pace all the time. Also I will treat weight just like any other variable (speed, distance, incline), starting with say 15 lbs and slowly working up as season progresses. So yeah treat it like anything and do a steady progression instead of just loading up and gutting it out and risking injury.

The Norgie deal sounds cool. Also check out the "Fan Dance" sometime. Avalanche Endurance Events is run by ex-Blades who do a civvy version of the deal the week after their SF selection course does it. It's 35 lbs, dry, over Pen Y Fan, a mountain in Wales, 6,000' total climb, 25K distance. Cut off to qualify (for SF selection) is 4 hours.
 
#16
On foot issues, I find the more you are running, the more your "combat chassis" is hardening up to all the pounding. So over the years, all those miles will harden up all the connective tissue and so forth. On feet, that's just something you have to go through. I went through PF about 4 years ago- no fun. Over the years my arches have fallen and my boot size has gone up a full size. But they are now used to the pounding and generally get me where I need to go. I ruck train in running shoes as often as possible, terrain and situation permitting. I find Hokas have the extra cushioning to soak up the pounding when "speed marching" (or running) with a ruck. I did the Fan Dance in Lowa TF Zephrs, if you can wear a 6" boot.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#17
Thank you for all the advice @Diz ! I really appreciate it and will be incorporating it in preparation for my summer assessments.

I will definitely be competing in a future Fan Dance, maybe Summer or Winter 2021 if that doesn't interfere with my Army career.

The NF march is actually this Saturday, but, unfortunately I have to work to pay the bills. Pushes back my gold badge to 2026, but I'll get it.

The Army recently pushed guidance preventing soldiers from wearing the badge....Frankly I don't really give a fuck, still gonna wear it. It's small enough to hide under the lapel anyways, so none's wiser.
 
#18
Yeah it sucks to miss an event you've been training for, but, I have found over the years that for me, it's the journey, not the destination.
There is really not a lot of good solid info on ruck training out there. There are a few of "prep" manuals out there, to get you ready for selection courses, but most of these are "graduate" level stuff that focuses on using rucking as a adjunct to get you into your chosen field. Which is cool, that's the whole point for a lot of folks.

For me, rucking is also a mental and spiritual exercise; it is a really good way to focus yourself on doing things, going to levels you never thought you could achieve. This is why I continue to do so. It is an effort that strips you down to your essence, and lets you see who you really are. You then have a choice; either give up and accept what you have, or, push through and become what you want to be. I think this is why so many sepc ops units use it as a way of finding out who really wants to be there, and who decides it's not for them.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#19
Exactly why it's my favorite exercise. The weight just becomes a part of you and your life. It really helps to move on from hard things in one's life: the death of a loved one, a breakup, or stress. Rucking is just amazing.
 
#20
Well yeah I didn't want to get too psychological on ya, but yeah it will strip you down to the bare wire, and you gotta decide what's next.

I'm not saying it would work for everybody, but yeah, good therapy for what life throws at ya. That's what always has worked for me as well. Works best after a night of drinking and abbreviated sleep.

I want to say this is what Ted Kennedy was TRYING to say with his PTSD comments.