PATHFINDER Ruck Training is one of the longest running GORUCK training programs around. Lyell Petersen (who runs PATHFINDER) is heavily involved in each class which is one of the reasons they are so successful. In addition, he has a slew of Course Advisers (CA) that work with him to keep everything running smoothly. As of when this was written PATHFINDER has helped over 3,000 individuals which is pretty phenomenal.
Who is PATHFINDER Ruck Training For?
PATHFINDER Ruck Training is for anyone who is interested in GORUCK events and wants a training framework or a community to train with. It’s as simple as that… if you are remotely interested in GORUCK events then you should definitely check out the PATHFINDER program.
How does PATHFINDER Work?
The most asked question we receive is “how does PATHFINDER work?” First off it’s important to know that PATHFINDER Ruck Training is more of a training framework than a training plan. In my opinion there is a big distinction between those two items. Here is how I define them:
- Training Plan: Day by day (or week by week) programmed workouts. Wake up each day, check the plan, and do the workout listed there.
- Training Framework: Goals given that the participant will need to complete. Less hand-holding… more effort required by the participant to figure out what to do and when to do it. There is a time frame but it is up to the participant to program and schedule their workouts.
PATHFINDER falls under the training framework category above. If you complete PATHFINDER then you should be prepared for an upcoming GORUCK event.
The PATHFINDER Framework
When you register you are given a list of objectives that you must complete during the class. The objectives include:
- Miles to ruck
- Ruck workouts to complete
- Challenges to complete
- *250 APFT Score (Age/Gender weighted)
- *12 Mile Ruck in 3 Hours (Prescribed weight)
- *Reading materials
* Only for PATHFINDER Advanced.
It is your job to figure out the ruck workouts (examples can be found online) then find time to complete them along with the miles and challenges. I call PATHFINDER a framework because it is not a day by day or week by week plan. Instead it’s a set of goals and if you complete the all of the goals and you’ll complete the PATHFINDER program.
One of the main benefits of joining PATHFINDER is that you get access to their community. Each class has its own Facebook Group that you can join once registered. Within the Facebook Group you can interact with everyone who is participating in that PATHFINDER class. It can be very motivating to see what other people are doing and it can be helpful to borrow some of their workouts.
Your Course Adviser
In addition to the giant Facebook Group you also get assigned a Course Adviser (CA) for assistance. Your CA will have a small group of participants to keep track. To keep everyone together they will generally set up either a Facebook Group or Slack Channel. The goal is to give you a smaller group to talk with, compare workouts, and get ideas from.
Every CA has completed at least one previous PATHFINDER course and have usually done at least one GORUCK event. They are valuable assets to talk to if you are unsure about gear choices, training, or an upcoming GORUCK event. If you are new to rucking or GORUCK then access to a CA might be worth the price of admission alone.
How to be Successful at PATHFINDER
PATHFINDER is one of those things that you get out of what you put in. Anyone can register but you need to put in the work (like everything else in life) if you want to succeed. It’s up to you how you want to program the workouts and if you want to participate in the groups. No one is forcing you to do anything and, generally, no one is reaching out to check up on you. The CA will see how everyone is doing from time to time but they don’t babysit. You need to be motivated to be successful.
Schedule Workouts, Miles, & Challenges
To be successful at PATHFINDER you should sit down and program out when you plan on completing the workouts, miles, and challenges. It is far too easy to get behind when a program is three months long and you feel like you have forever to get the work done. Create a plan for yourself from the framework and do your best to stick to it.
Scheduling the work out and modifying the schedule as things come up in your life. You should always know where you stand and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you complete the program or not.
Be as involved in the community as you need to be. Some people need that extra hand-holding and, if that’s you, reach out to your group and find a buddy. Make an agreement with them that you’ll check in with each other and compare progress then stick to that agreement.
Log your miles, workouts, and challenges weekly at a minimum. It’s a pain to go back through the notebooks and websites and see what you did and when you did it. Set a reminder to log your workouts and do it. It’s motivating to see your progress and then you won’t be dreading doing it all at the end. This also ensures that no challenges or workouts will sneak up on you and prevent you from finishing the class.
What PATHFINDER Programs are Available?
The PATHFINDER programs are broken out into two categories:
- Ruck Training Programs
- Companion Programs
PATHFINDER Ruck Training Programs
The ruck training programs are the heart of the PATHFINDER experience. There are three different program levels so there is absolutely something for everyone. Beginner ruckers can push themselves with Forward and Endure. Experienced ruckers (and good athletes) can challenge themselves with Advanced.
PATHFINDER Forward is designed for people who are new to rucking or want to be part of PATHFINDER and maintain a minimum level of rucking fitness. Participants have to complete less miles, workouts, and challenges than the Endure and Advanced programs during the class.
This is a great “intro to rucking” program for someone who is brand new to the sport and wants to test the waters.
Learn more about the PATHFINDER Forward requirements and register at the PATHFINDER Ruck Training website.
PATHFINDER Endure is designed for people who have rucked previously, are training for a GORUCK Tough or Heavy, or know that they want to ruck. Participants have to complete a good deal of miles, workouts, and challenges to complete Endure and this program will push most people.
If you don’t need to test the rucking waters and know this is something you want to do then Endure is a great place to start. In addition, if you feel like you didn’t perform at your best at a previous event Endure can help you with future events.
Learn more about the PATHFINDER Endure requirements and register at the PATHFINDER Ruck Training website.
PATHFINDER Advanced is designed for people who have rucked previously or are already solid athletes. It is recommended (although not required) that you complete PATHFINDER Endure before attempting Advanced. In my opinion if your goal is to complete a GORUCK Tough you should be fine with Endure. if you want to crush a Tough or complete a Heavy or an HTL then you should look into Advanced.
Advanced includes additional requirements not found in Endure or Forward which make it a more intense program. These additional requirements and challenges add substantial time commitments so make sure you have the time before registering. PATHFINDER Advanced is a serious time commitment if you want to complete it.
Learn more about the PATHFINDER Advanced requirements and register at the PATHFINDER Ruck Training website.
I have not taken part in any of the companion programs yet but plan to in the future when my kids are a little older or Watson gets a little younger. Companion programs are meant to be done with an adult who is also registered for a PATHFINDER program.
Although not required for TRAILBLAZER a registered adult is required for a pup to take part in TAILBLAZER. Honestly though if your child is signing up for TRAILBLAZER you should also sign up for a program to support them.
PATHFINDER Ruck Training TRAILBLAZER
The PATHFINDER TRAILBLAZER program is designed for kids who are 18 and younger. Each registration includes a blank roster patch and the child will receive a finisher patch at the end if they complete the program. Just like the traditional PATHFINDER programs TRAILBLAZER has a set of requirements that need to be completed.
If you have wanted to get your child involved in rucking then TRAILBLAZER seems like a great way to do that. Your kid will get to do workouts with you, ruck with you, challenges, then earn a patch of their own. It can be tough to find ways to connect with kids so if your child is showing interest bridge that gap and complete PATHFINDER with them!
Learn more about the PATHFINDER TRAILBLAZER requirements and register at the PATHFINDER Ruck Training website.
PATHFINDER Ruck Training TAILBLAZER
The PATHFINDER TAILBLAZER program is designed for pups that want to earn their own patch. If you have a dog that goes on regular rucks with you then you can sign them up for TAILBLAZER. Like the other programs TAILBLAZER has its own set of miles and challenges that your pup will need to complete to earn its patch.
The program requirements are pretty intense which makes this program ideal for younger pups. This is the only reason Watson has not been involved in TAILBLAZER.
Learn more about the PATHFINDER TAILBLAZER requirements and register at the PATHFINDER Ruck Training website.
Do I Recommend PATHFINDER?
Yes! I have had a ton of fun taking part in PATHFINDER classes and think Lyell and the team over there have an awesome thing going. If you are someone who is self-driven then you will have no problem with the programs. If you’re someone who needs your hand held then I’d recommend reaching out to PATHFINDER Ruck Training to see if they have a CA who would be comfortable helping you program your workouts. The framework is not designed to step with you through everything but I have seen some course advisers go above and beyond in helping out.
I’m working through AARs for both the 017 Forward and 017 Endure classes that I took part in. As soon as they’re done they’ll be put up on the website and linked to from here. They were both amazing experiences and a ton of work.
Discount Code & Podcast
If you do decide to register for either Forward or Endure you can use the promo code 013ADR for 20% off. Lyell was nice enough to give that discount to use after he was on the podcast and he’s kept it active since!
Speaking of the podcast if you want to learn more about PATHFINDER Ruck Training you should listen to the interview I did with Lyell. He spills a ton of knowledge and explains the program in detail.
Have Any Questions?
Have any questions about PATHFINDER Ruck Training or experiences with the program? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer any of the questions!
Thanks for posting this! I’ve been doing Team SPEARHEAD PATHFINDER Ruck Training since Class 008. I started as Forward, did a few as “OG,” then to Endure, did a couple of Advanced classes, and have been sticking with Endure ever since. I can honestly say that I owe any and all success that I have had in completing GORUCK Challenges to PATHFINDER Ruck Training, and I have completed 22 events to date, including 1 Constellation, 12 Lights, 8 Toughs and most recently 1 Heavy). To finish a PATHFINDER class, you MUST develop the discipline to plan your workouts and then actually execute them. The camaraderie, support and shared wisdom within the PATHFINDER class community is absolutely invaluable, and the Course Advisors (CAs) are probably the lynchpin of the entire system–they encourage, provide advice, and keep everything moving. Team SPEARHEAD does not refer to PATHFINDER as “The Ultimate Ruck Training Program” for nothing–it’s the best, hands down. The PATHFINDER mantra is “Choose the Harder Thing” and this is emblematic of the philosophy of the training. I highly recommend it.
Nate Saunders says
I started Rucking just this year with my first ruck type event being City Ruck Tour in Olympia, WA. After that I did my first GORUCK Light (Operation Red Wings) and then signed up for PATHFINDER TRAINING – Pathfinder Forward. This program is so awesome and is extremely helpful in prepping folks for GORUCK events, you make some great connections along the way and the program rocks at teambuilding !!! Special shout out to my team @ PATHFINDER Group 34 and Mathew Anderson (AKA Warrior Chief)!!
Rebecca McCann says
Thanks for writing about Pathfinder! I’m new to both Pathfinder & rucking and I love it! I’ve already met great rucking companions in my community & enjoy the support, information & camaraderie found in the online Pathfinder community as well. I highly recommend signing up for one of the Pathfinder program!
This was an incredible post!
Adam Burritt says
PATHFINDER is my go to ruck training program. I’ve been in every class since I found it (Class 012). It gives my training a non-restrictive “form” to follow, which is great. It’s awesome to take the Challenge requirements to my Ruck friends and go out and have a lot of fun doing more than just rucking around.
Far more important than that however is the PATHFINDER community. There isn’t a more supportive rucking group out there that prides itself on taking care of each other. It’s by far my favorite online community, and for that reason I keep coming back each and every class.
Greg McLane says
Thank you for taking the time to write about a great program that has certainly helped me get in miles and enjoy rucking even more! Stay strong!
PATHFINDER is what got me off my butt! Great program!!
Excellent overview of the program. This program has truly enabled me to accomplish things I never thought possible as well as build some amazing relationships! Highly recommend.
Love Pathfinder! Great workouts and an even better community.
Thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful review of an outstanding training program! It was key to helping me get off my ass, lose 50 pounds, and thrive in several GORUCK events. I’ve completed Forward once and Endure four times, am finally taking the plunge for Advanced. PATHFINDER is the real deal!
Regine Rossi says
PATHFINDER is awesome and so is ADR. So glad to read your write-up.
Anthony Frisolone says
Great write-up, Brian! I’ve completed Forward and Endure and have so far completed confidently every GORUCK event I’ve done since May, I’ve also felt like I’ve crushed them from a pbysical standpoint. I just started Advance and I’m looking forward to the challenges that are waiting for me. I recommend Pathfinder to anyone who is looking for a ruck training program.
Kevin Gaunt says
I highly recommend the PATHFINDER program. Even though I like planning my own workouts, I also like the accountability of having to meet specific standards over a set time period. It’s the best of both worlds for me.
100’s out of 100’s GRTs suggest this program.
I’m in my second round of Pathfinder right now. Did Forward for class 17, and now Endure for class 18. Great program, and awesome community.
Awesome review! Big fan of all three programs!
Just started my second round!
I found the program thanks to your page earlier this year and found it very helpful!
MARK DD HAUPERT says
Dooooo it!!! I’m on my umpteenth Advanced circuit and it gives me the impetus to get off my laurels and keep my training on point.
Awesome write up & explanation of the program! It’s great training for events!
Excellent breakdown of the program and I agree with everything said in the article. I have been a PATHFINDER roster for 6 classes and a Course Advisor for 2, and it is a top notch training program and a great community to be a part of. Highly recommended for ruckers of all skill levels.
Chad McAlexander says
Great review of Pathfinder! That program has been transformational for my own training and general fitness. It’s a great group of people to help motivate and advise, and the program itself really helps prepare a person for ruck events.
TJ Williams says
I cannot say enough great things that Pathfinder Ruck Training can provide. After 4 rounds of the program, I can’t attest it’s helped in numerous GORUCK events. This article is great, and gives awesome, detailed insight to the program and the advantages to trying it out!
Wow. This is an amazing article and spot on about the programs. I have completed Forwand and Endure previously. Stepped back a bit for running and back at it again. The support is amazing for anyone looking to try out this program. Thanks for the wonderful explanation. Will definitely be sharing this article!
Eddie Vergara says
GREAT article and coverage as always. Thanks for taking the time to cover this training program and expand its exposure to both new and experienced ruckers.
I’m doing my third PATHFINDER session now and I’ve noticed how it changes my motivation and my enjoyment of all things WOD and ruck. It tightens my community and has stretched me beyond my goals.
All Day Ruckoff is my go-to resource for ruck info, AARs, cool ruck accessories, and more. I’m thankful for ADR and Pathfinder for shaping this part of me.
Hank Stamm-F3 Bloomer PF 7-316 says
Thank you Brian or all you do in the rucking community and this awesome write up for PATHFINDER! As a CA since 009 and a member since 007 it’s near and dear to my heart! 2-3 of my rosters have been interviewed on ADR!
Great write up! And I agree, PF is an amazing program. Can’t recommend it enough.
Nice job Brian!
Great synopsis of PATHFINDER! I have been a part since 012 and have continually improved, made new friends, and have learned something new every class. I love that it can be as easy or as tough as you want to make it. Thanks for spreading the word on this program!