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How do they fit?
As we train for a 50-mile event, one of the most difficult questions to answer is “What should be the length of my longest training ruck?” There are lots of opinions on this topic! Here are some considerations as you answer this question for yourself. We also explain in this blog post why the longest training ruck for PATHFINDER Horizon is a roster’s choice of either 20 or 26.2 miles.
The most important part of endurance training is building a solid base. Building that foundation happens with lots of small distances, which is why Horizon contains lots of one to four-mile rucks. It is from this solid base that one can extend to longer distances. Injury prevention is key, which is why Horizon supplements with strength, core, and mobility training to keep you in the fight.
"Injury prevention and performance gains also rest on the endurance athlete’s willingness to take that leap of faith from a training plan that consists primarily of slowly, sloppily, slogging more and more miles to adding systematic balanced integration of quality sport-specific workouts. Training for endurance events is more than covering long distances. Endurance athletes who follow a 'more is better' plan with little structure, intensity and rest – suffer greater overuse injuries, sickness, as well as performance plateaus." A solid base of fitness allows you to become stronger, faster, and endure greater levels of work over time.
The distance of your training rucks needs to be accessible. Your training plan has to fit in your life. If it doesn’t fit (requirements are too time-consuming, too confusing, etc) then you don’t follow the plan. Any plan you don’t follow is clearly not helping you train for your event! As we designed Horizon, we wanted it to fit into roster’s lives as we considered work, family, and other interests one might have. Recovery time fits into this category as well. If your training efforts require a week of recovery, your training is too intense!
Potential for Injury
Getting injured during training is something all endurance athletes fear. Your training should walk the fine line between pushing your body to make physiologic improvements but not to the point of negative returns from overtraining. This is where the back to back ruck concept enters our training ideas. Back to back runs are commonly used for Ultra Marathon training. “The idea is that you cannot run a single 40- or 50-mile day in training without getting injured, so you should split that mileage up into two runs to get similar benefits with less risk.”
Why do a back to back?
It is commonly said of the 50-mile ruck distance that the real meat of the event is in the last ten miles. This is the place where everyone is tired, many things hurt, and you have to mentally dig deep to keep going. Back to back training helps as “the real goal of these runs is to teach people to run on tired legs.” But, by breaking it up into two days, you lessen your risk of injury. It’s also great mental training, as you have to really talk yourself into getting back out there the second day. That is the same mental toughness you will need to get up from that 40-mile break and keep rucking toward the next waypoint.
Planning and Prep
Back to back training forces planning and prep to happen in a different way. This is a great dry run for event day about what works, what doesn’t, and how to best fuel your recovery. “For a back-to-back long run weekend, you need to fuel the first day with the second day in mind. This means eating enough before, during and after the run so that not only will you have enough energy to complete the first run, but you can replenish and have the energy for the second day.” It also lets you evaluate gear and how the gear from the first day feels on sore points the second day. This gives you an idea of what adjustments you might want to make in the last 20 miles of your Star Course.
Is this on the schedule?
Yes! This is an optional training weekend, where you will do longer rucks on both Saturday and Sunday. But, even if you don’t decide to include the Back to Back on the weekend we schedule it, we absolutely recommend you do this on a smaller scale after every big ruck. After the 12 mile timed, ruck two miles the next day. After the 20 mile ruck, ruck a few miles the next day. You get the idea. Instead of making those short rucks slow and easy, perhaps push the pace a little bit to challenge those tired legs. You will find benefit even from these smaller efforts!