I've had a few PM's about this from DEP'rs reading my intro Post. I guess it's a good to know a little about preperation for the road marches in RIP. I will write what I know from back in the day. If any of you Rangers could chip in with your road marching prep tips and whatnot, it might better arm the DEP'ers for what lies ahead. You guys are the ones who were in Batt and have a lot more experience than myself. I'm sure the DEP'ers would appreciate any and all info and tips you can give them to prep for this test. In the end, all the preperation in the world isn't going to stop people from failing, but it may help would be Rangers be more prepared for the test. I know we didn't get any tips on road marching preperation in basic, you just learned it as you went and sometimes it was the hard way and that sucked.
Probably the biggest killer of Ranger wannabe's when I went through back in '90, was the 12 mile road march. I don't know what it's like now, but back then they split everyone into two units, one on each side of the road. We started early, a few hours before sunrise. You had to stay within arms length of the guy in front of you. You couldn't run, you couldn't fall behind. You were walking as fast as you possibly could without running, or at least without making it seem like you were running as some of the shorter guys were able to do. If you have short legs, well... it may be a little harder for you if the criteria are still the same.
When I went through OSUT, we did a few road marches. As a way to somewhat prepare myself for RIP, I stuck close to the Morter guys when the time came for road marching. If they had to cart the base plate, I made sure I was next to the guy who got stuck with it and about a mile into the march I asked him if I could take it, and I never gave it back until we were done. He was more than happy to give it up, and I appreciated the experience carrying more weight. The road marches we did in basic weren't as fast as the RIP march, but it was a pretty good pace and the weight of the base plate helped give me somewhat of an idea as to how my body would react and feel with the weight of a heavy ruck at RIP, or at least that was my theory. I think it did help me be more prepared.
You need to prepare the night before. Hydrate yourself, I'd recommend drinking as much water as you possibly can. Yeah you might have to piss every hour, but trust me it'll help you the next day. Make sure you drink water on the march too. I'm sure I really don't need to tell you this though, because I drank all four quarts that I had on me when I went through. At the end, I had about that much sweat on my BDU's too. It looked like I'd just jumped into and out of a swimming pool. We were all drenched in sweat. Hydration is crucial.
Some of us went out the night before and ate at the pizza place on Benning. I'm not sure if it's still there or not. We ate a spaghetti meal, (but didn't overdo it) in order to get a lot of carbs and energy for the task at hand.
Make sure your Ruck is in good working order. If there's a weight requirement (it was 60 pounds when I went through), make sure you check your ruck weight. I can't imagine completing the march and having it weigh 59 pounds and you get the axe. I made sure mine was 5 - 10 pounds over what was required. Some guys risked it and went lighter, and if I remember correctly, one of them got caught. Not everyone got weighed. Make sure you check it without water. We had our 2 quart canteens attached to ours that's why I mention that. Also make sure your ruck is as comfortable as you can get it. We had guys who ended up with huge sores on their backs near the hip area on either side, because they didn't have it adjusted properly. We had them on most of the time during RIP, but never really did anything that tested the road worthiness of them while road marching until the day of the 12 miler. Make sure the frame is in good working order, not bent or broken at all, and make sure you have the straps on it correctly. Sounds stupid, but it's the little shit that you gotta pay attention to. Some guys didn't. I remember one guy had a busted frame and a peice of it ended up digging a hole in his back. He didn't finish, and had no one to blame but himself for not squaring his shit away beforehand. If your gear is in check, you'll be way better off.
Probably one of the most important things on the road march will be the condition of your feet. We had guys who were wearing two pairs of socks, band aids, and all kinds of crazy shit in order to not get blisters and help keep their feet in check. The guy who wore two pair of socks, had worse blisters than I did. The bandaid boys quickly learned that the bandaids came right off and balled up in their boots, so not only did they have the pounding of the pavement to worry about, they had a balled up bandaid in there inbetween their foot and the boot. It wasn't a pleasant experience. Some peoples feet react to and take the abuse of the march differently than others. All I did in the feet area of preperation was make sure I had boots that fit properly with good insoles in them. I have tender feet, there was no way I was going to make it with the standard issue boots and no aftermarket insoles. I still had blisters, but not too bad.
Make sure you stretch out if you can that morning when you get up. I don't know how much time you'll have, but try to do some stretching in your legs. Maybe even run around the barracks once or twice just to get the blood pumping and then stretch again. If you have to get up early, and you can do it, it's probably going to help.
I don't know if I can explain the next part, but I used a few different types of... stepping methods I guess is what they'd be called. I have long legs being 6'1". I made sure my feet weren't pounding down on the pavement if I could help it at all. I'd also alternate the way I stepped. I am able to walk without using the calf muscles or ankle muscles much at all so I'd do that when my calves got tired to give them a bit of a rest. Your feet will swing out naturally anyway, you don't really need to use the muscles in them if you do it right. I'd swing my leg as far forward as I could, set it down in the stride, and use the hamstring muscles to pull me through the stride, all the while not utilizing (or at least as little as possible) the calf muscles in my legs, thus letting them rest up a bit when they got tired. When they felt better, I'd start using them more again and let the upper leg rest a little. My hamstrings and thighs had a lot more energy than my calves did during the march, so I developed this method as I went along. I don't know if I explained how to do this well enough so that you can practice if you want. Hell I'm not even sure anyone else has done it or knows what I mean, but it's what I did and it helped.
The biggest muscle for the road march is your mind (barring injury to your legs). If you put your mind to it, you can
do it. We asked one of the cadre for tips on how to get through it. He said the biggest thing is using your mind to get through it. Set your body in motion, and then put your brain somewhere else like back home on the block, thinking about that first time you got stinky pinky with Mary Jane Rotten Crotch. Or thinking about your family, wondering how friends are doing. Reliving past experiences you enjoyed. I thought about a lot of things. The one thing I also did mentally was pick out a song that I liked and just play it over and over and over in my head. I picked a song that had a beat that matched the step pace that I needed to maintain and adjusted the length of my step to match the beat of the song and keep me up with the pack. It helped. What song? Call me a retard if you will but the song Nuthin' but a Good Time by Poison was the one I used.
It's a huge gut check. There were guys there who were big muscle bound jocks in highschool, could do PT all day long, but when it came to the 12 miler they were gone in the first 3-6 miles. It's not a joke. The 12 miler will get you if you're not prepared for it. It got me the second time around.
Hopefully some of the Rangers who are currently still on active duty or were in more recently than when I was in RIP can chime in with tips and whatnot. I think there are special socks and stuff on the market now that help reduce or prevent blistering although I haven't done any research on them. The best advice would come from someone who's been in a Batt for a while, so hopefully some of them will add things to this for the benefit of the option 40 posse.