Pathfinder Forward Ruck Training Program Review

In preparation to do a GORUCK Light and to make Spartan’s Hurricane Heats suck a bit less, I signed up for the Pathfinder Forward Ruck Training Program  after learning about it on Instagram and reading through the program description and reading through the Team Spearhead website. While the information is a bit older on the Team Spearhead site, the information is more expanded and explained there. I knew that this training program would help me be a prepared as I can for an endurance event.

Enter Pathfinder Forward

The Forward program covers a twelve week period, which you will complete the following at a minimum:

  • 75 Rucking Miles
  • 20 Workouts, 10 of which must be Ruck Workouts
  • 4 PATHFINDER Forward Challenges

The Pathfinder Forward Challenges consist of the following:

  • APFT Score Achievement
  • Pre/Post Workout Rucks
  • Mountain Ruck
  • Overnight Ruck
  • Coupon Ruck
  • Timed Ruck
  • Double Miles
  • Triple Miles
  • Endurance Challenge

Coming from a BeachBody workout background, where everything is listed out for you in a simple calendar view, the Pathfinder programs are self lead as there isn’t a set schedule. But if you take the time to plan before you start out, that makes completing the program easier. You’ve made a plan, it’s a start.

Pathfinder Forward Logging
Pathfinder Forward Logging

You also have access to a progress logging webpage that will, ahem, keep track of your progress. It is super important that you log everything that you do. It is super important that you log everything that you do. Yea, I said that twice. A lot of people fail the course because they failed to log workouts or challenge completions. In Class 12 I saw a handful of people state that they failed to log the workouts which resulted if them failing the class.

You also have access to a CA, or a Class Advisor, in a private Facebook group that will answer any questions you have and point you towards different ruck workouts if you need them. The CA I had for Class 12, Hank Stamm or Bloomer, was very knowledgable and has a great sense of humor. He has a ton of rucking experience and is known for being one of those rucking weirdos in his hometown. So yea, he knows his stuff. In group 12 of Class 12, there were people from all walks of life, a person training for an Iron Man, a GORUK Cadre, military personnel and other people, like myself.

If you need rucking workout plans, Team Spearhead has a great listing of ruck WOD’s to use and they are great! There is also the GORUCK Six week Training Plan which I am now currently in the process of performing.

Also, get used to a crap ton of acronyms. Thankfully Bloomer had posted to the facebook group a cheat sheet of acronym meanings, with the most used of DFQ (Don’t Fucking Quit) and CTHT (Choose The Harder Thing). You will see CTHT a lot. Get used to it.

The Plan

From the start, I had picked out 6 challenges that I wanted to attempt, in the chance that I was unable to complete 1 or 2 of the 4 challenges, which ended up being wise on my part. Initially I was doing P90X3 prior to signing up for this class, so I would be inserting ruck workouts in place of the upper body routines. Cardio days would become my rucking days.

Pathfinder Forward with my Tailblazer
Pathfinder Forward with my Tailblazer

For fun, I signed my dog up for Pathfinders Tailblazer course, which has its own set of challenges1. I didn’t think about it at the time, but this would prove to be a different challenge on its own.

Execute the Plan

On day 1, I passed the PT Test and was 1/4th of the way done with the challenges. Off to a great start. I started rucking with 20lbs in my ruck and my dog at my side. By the end of the first 30 days, I was very close to being 1/3 is the way done with 6 ruck workouts, 25-ish rucked miles and 1 completed challenge. My Tailblazer had 12.5 miles. Off to a great start! Then disaster strikes…

Expect the Plan to go off the rails..

While doing one of the P90X3 workouts I tweaked my lower back with a back spasm. It takes me 10 minutes just to get up on my feet. Just standing hurts. Walking is rough. My first and hopefully last chiropractor visit, massages, rest, time and muscle relaxers were all used to get me back to normal. Three weeks had passed and I now had to build back up to rucking. With less than a week left in July, I started to cram in two months of training into a little over a month. I know it’s possible because at this point in the program (2 months) hardcore ruckers had already completed their plan with a month to spare.

Throw Away the Plan

Now every workout is going to be a ruck workout and by the way, I have a week vacation in July. It’s going to be tight, but who doesn’t like a challenge?

Having a baby in the house and taking care of him in the mornings before work really limited the amount of time I had to get things done. I crossed off one of the challenges as not possible at this point, the 36 pre/post ruck workout miles, so I was down to 5 that I would be able to do. With two weeks left in the course, the overnight ruck fell off the list, so I was down to my final 4 challenges.

I completed the 12 mile timed ruck with my dog, as this one became required with the tailblazer add-on.

My 11 year old chihuahua could only go a little over 2 miles at a time, so I carried her for most of the ruck and honestly that was the only reason why I was able to completed the timed part. With her walking and sniffing and marking, we were going at a 21 mile a minute pace, much slower than the 17:30 min mile pace that was needed to successfully complete the challenge. We completed the challenge with a few minutes to spare and two new blisters for me, even though I had trail toes in that location. I think the extra weight and slower pace from an OCR nullified some of the trail toes magic.

The Final Push

Pathfinder Forward Challenge: Coupon Ruck
Pathfinder Forward Challenge: Coupon Ruck

The next weekend was the coupon ruck which is normally done with two or more people, but as I didn’t have any other Pathfinder Class 12 people in my area, I opted to do it by myself, carrying the weight a little over half the time. I decided to have a little fun and cross train for Spartan’s Bucket Brigade. I filled up a 5 gallon bucket with 50 lbs of stuff and carried it for 1.7 miles. Then I traded that in for a 45 lbs wreck bag and carried that for another 3.8 miles. I had now carried a coupon for 5.5 of the 8 miles, well over the 4 miles required and finished the last 2.5 miles with just the ruck. 3 challenges down, still a lot of workouts and miles left to do.

Pathfinder Forward Challenge: Mountain Ruck
Pathfinder Forward Challenge: Mountain Ruck

The final week of the course I had to do a workout every day and complete the final challenge, an 8 mile mountain ruck. Completion of the class was still in sight and doable.

In the end, I completed the Forward program on the last day with a challenge and a ruck workout that included a ruck with my pup so she could complete her program as well. Since she had to do half of my miles, I had to go over the minimum miles to get her 50%+ of my miles. That was an unforeseen challenge that I realized two weeks prior to the end of the course. Haha.

End of Plan Stats

Personally I had completed 20 of 20 the ruck workouts, 83 of the required 75 rucking miles and 4 for 4 of the challenges. A successful completion of the Forward Program.

Overall, Class 12 had a 43% success/completion rate. I’m sure this would be a lot higher if people had logged their progress as they went along. The class had also rucked more than enough miles to circle the planet, 34,678 miles rucked to be exact, which is really freaking cool!

Conclusion

If you want to get better at rucking or prepare for an endurance event, I would highly recommend a Pathfinder Ruck Training program. They have beginner (Forward), intermediate (Endure) and Advanced classes, so no matter your skill level, there is something for you. So head on over to https://pathfinderrucktraining.com and get your ruck on!

Footnotes

  1. – Ruck at least half as many miles as their human- The 12-mile challenge must be completed as per the PFF, PFE, or PFA requirements as one of the human challenges and the companion must complete it too.- The dog’s registered human must post a video of their dog executing the following commands – sit, down and stay. The stay must last at least 1 minute.

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