From August 1st, 2018 through October 31st, 2018 I took part in both the PATHFINDER Ruck Training Forward and Endure classes. This AAR is for the Forward portion with the Endure section coming soon.
If you are reading this and don’t know what PATHFINDER is then our “What is PATHFINDER Ruck Training?” article will help you out. Long story short it’s a program designed to get you better at rucking and improve your fitness.
To complete PATHFINDER Ruck Training Forward I needed to ruck 75 miles, complete 20 ruck workouts, and finish 4 of the PATHFINDER Forward challenges. When I started out I looked at the challenges and chose the ones that made the most sense for me:
- 12 Mile Timed Ruck: A solid 12 mile ruck pace is always good to have. If you’re considering a Heavy your team will complete a timed 12 mile so why not work on that for this training program?
- Pass APFT: When I take part in any rucking program my running miles suffer… so this was kind of an excuse to run some more.
- 36 Mile Pre/Post Total: GORUCK events involve a lot of PT and rucking and PT and rucking. You should get your body used to working out then rucking and rucking then working out.
- 8 Mile Coupon Ruck: Show me a GORUCK event that doesn’t have a single coupon and I’ll be whatever is beyond shocked. Rucking 8 miles with a coupon is great training.
PATHFINDER Forward lasts 3 months. Breaking it down makes it roughly 25 miles, 7 workouts, and 1.33 challenges per month. On paper this doesn’t sound bad at all however it can be a chore to keep up with everything. There have been PATHINDER courses where I ended up needing to get 90% of the program done in the past month. That wasn’t fun which is why planning is key.
PATHFINDER 017 Forward AAR
Here’s the program as I completed it broken out in one-month sections. At the end of each month I detail the stats for the month, the Forward program, and the combined Forward & Endure programs.
PATHFINDER 017 Forward Month 1
Having taken part in PATHFINDER before I knew it was important to get off to a good start. It is too easy to fall behind so buying yourself some time up front is smart.
I started off incredibly consistent and motivated. This was mostly due to taking part in the GORUCK Star Course in that first month. I had a big goal and knew I would need to put in the miles to reach it.
I tried to get long rucks in however when days had weird slots of free time I’d throw in a ruck workout then pound the pavement if I knew I could hit at least 4 miles.
The craziest day (besides the Star Course) was August 9th where I completed both a ruck workout followed by a four mile ruck in the morning then a ruck workout with six mile ruck in the afternoon.
12 Mile Timed Ruck
On October 14th I completed the 12 mile timed ruck. This was roughly one week before the GORUCK Star Course 50 miler making it my last long training ruck before that event.
I traditionally try and crush these 12 mile timed rucks. When taking part in HDT I would try and get them done in 2:20 or less. For this ruck I took it slow and easy finishing with a 15 minute per mile pace. I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize my upcoming event.
The Star Course was an amazingly crazy event and when it was done I took two full weeks off from working out which closed out that first month. My recovery plan was based off of ultra running and it worked really well.
Month 1 Stats
PATHFINDER Forward Stats
PATHFINDER Forward + Endure Stats
Overall my numbers were looking good after that first month. I was on track for challenges, doing great on miles, but lacking on workouts. With the Star Course complete I knew I would be able to tackle more workouts in upcoming months.
PATHFINDER 017 Forward Month 2
The second month of PATHFINDER 017 Forward was an interesting month. I had taken two complete weeks off (everything but yoga) after the GORUCK Star Course. Once the two weeks was up I spent two weeks running which doesn’t count towards PATHFINDER. After months of only rucking I was itching to get back out there and run.
My first workout in September that counted towards PATHFINDER was on 9/13/2018. I was definitely behind for both PATHFINDER Forward and Endure and needed to pick it up. From the 13th to the 30th I completed 11 ruck workouts for Forward which was awesome. On the flip side I only rucked 14.27 miles for the program which was a bit less than I had planned on getting in.
When month two (September) ended I was stressed about the amount of work I was going to have to accomplish in month three.
Month 2 Stats
PATHFINDER Forward + Endure Stats
Based on the final stats I knew October was going to be a very busy month.
PATHFINDER 017 Forward Month 3
Month three was one of those months where it felt like something big was happening every weekend. That might have been the case because I had saved three Forward challenges for the month… something that isn’t smart to do.
Based on the logs for PATHFINDER my last challenge for Forward was completed on 10/25/2018. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to close this one out!
I love running so passing the APFT was a fun one for me. The push-ups give me more issue than either the sit-ups or the run and I know I’ll make the points back with those two. The 12:50 time was good and it just felt nice to get out there running again after so much rucking. The final stats were 44 push-ups, 52 sit-ups, and a 12:50 two mile run.
36 Mile Pre/Post Total
My calendar usually has a lot of small sections of time to fit workouts in. This makes me both love and hate the 36 mile pre/post challenge. It forces me to spend somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes working out at a single time which is needed when training for GORUCK events. It’s also more difficult to schedule which is something that can stress me out.
8 Mile Coupon Ruck
There’s nothing like running up against a time limit and doing a 8 mile coupon ruck by yourself. This challenge is traditionally done with a partner (where you trade off the coupon) but I just went out and did it alone.
If I had planned better (and maybe tackled this earlier) then this one wouldn’t have been such an issue.
Month 3 Stats
PATHFINDER Forward + Endure Stats
October was a much busier month than it should have been but I got the work done!
PATHFINDER 017 Forward Lessons Learned
Over the course of PATHFINDER Forward 017 I learned, and re-learned, a number of lessons:
- Plan challenges that require other people out first. The 8 mile coupon ruck would have been easier with a partner. I should have planned this out in the first month instead of waiting until the end.
- Don’t neglect the ruck workouts. I should have stayed consistent with ruck workouts throughout the three month program. There’s no reason that I should have had to complete 26 workouts in the last month.
- Don’t neglect the challenges. The challenges take time to complete which is why they are easier to neglect. Trying to cram them into the end of the program is much more stressful than getting them done earlier.
PATHFINDER Ruck Training is one of those programs that you get out of what you put in. Not only did I get some good rucks and workouts out of this program but I also got a lesson in planning. Nothing says you suck at planning like having to complete 26 workouts, 75 miles, and 6 challenges in a single month. I’ll definitely sign up for another PATHFINDER class in the future and will definitely plan it out better.