Conditioning Ruck - Everything You Need to Know

The primary goals of the 10-mile conditioning ruck are to prepare your feet and legs for two things: Hills & Concrete.

Challenge Requirements

10 miles in concrete-hill conditions (like up and downhill on city streets, in a parking garage or another predominately concrete location with rolling terrain.)

  • The 10 Mile Conditioning Challenge is a requirement for PATHFINDER Horizon and Advanced: OCALA and not an optional Challenge.
  • A weighted ruck will be worn for the entire Challenge. (See Weight Requirements.)

    The PATHFINDER Conditioning Ruck is not a currently approved Challenge for any other PATHFINDER programming.

    Challenge Weight Requirements

    • HORIZON Required weight:
      • 20 lb / 9kg ruck (dry weight) if you weigh 150 lbs./ 68kg or more
      • 10 lb / 4.5kg ruck (dry weight) if you weigh less than 150 lbs. / 68kg.
    • Advanced: OCALA Required weight:
      • 35-40lb / 15.8-18kg ruck (dry weight) regardless of bodyweight.

    Challenge Time Requirements

    • There are no time requirements for this Challenge.

    Challenge Notes:


    Even in a city that seems relatively flat, you’re likely to discover hills. Both the uphill and downhill will challenge your quads, hamstrings, glutes, knees, and calves. The downhills may be harder on your legs than the uphills, because you’ll be landing with more force, and absorbing the shock with your legs. Get your muscles used to those forces. Practice good form, and figure out what stride length works best for you. Smaller but more rapid steps can be more efficient, and help to lessen the impact, both on the uphills and on the downhills. Your speed will naturally slow down a bit on the uphills. Try maintaining even effort across the uphills and the downhills, as opposed to an even speed.

    Moderate downhills are also a good opportunity to incorporate some shuffling.  You don’t need to shuffle for long. Even 100 meters of shuffling will allow you to change up the muscles that you’ve been using, giving the normal rucking muscles a break. Assuming you’re not rucking with excessive weight, shuffling on a downhill can even let you and your ruck feel almost weightless. With the slightest step, you can let gravity do the work of moving you forward. Try to minimize vertical movement of your center of mass, so that each step you take while shuffling is soft and quiet. Use your feet and your slightly bent knees to soften each step. Again, you don’t have to do it for long or very often.  Even one bout of shuffling per mile can be beneficial and help you inject some speed.  


    For HORIZON, you will be on sidewalks most of the time. Sidewalks are hard on your feet and legs. Think about the difference in softness between asphalt and trail, and the amount of extra cushioning that you get from rucking on dirt or grass. If you think asphalt is hard, did you know that concrete is 10X harder than asphalt? (Source:  Over the course of the 211,200+ steps you’ll be taking during your 50+ mile event, that’s a lot of force on your feet. Bones require time to adapt to stress. Progressively mix in rucks on concrete to build up to the 10-mile challenge, so that during the event, your feet won’t hate you as much. During the event, by all means, take softer ground whenever possible if it is smooth enough not to twist an ankle. But prepare for the inevitable miles of concrete with this challenge.

    For Advanced: Ocala, the concrete conditioning ruck will help prepare your feet for hard-packed sand, which can feel like concrete in some long areas of the trail. The preparation that occurs during this Challenge can help you both mentally and physically be prepared for the unique ache that occurs with many miles of challenging terrain.

    Challenge Restrictions

    • Ruck safely. Communicate your route and estimated times to another individual/party who can alert
    • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

    PATHFINDER assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries, damages or death. A roster assumes all risk associated with their participation in any and all PATHFINDER programming.


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