How long should you ruck when you're just starting out? (Or at least starting out with PATHFINDER programming.) There are a few different answers, which we'll break down below.
HOW LONG SHOULD I RUCK FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Many athletes start out wanting to lose weight, and rucking is a great way to help your body drop some unwanted pounds. By adding resistance (aka: weight in your ruck), your body works harder than walking alone, and it's also easier on your joints than running.
If you ruck most days of the week, for at least 30 minutes, you'll be well on your way to seeing weight loss (especially combined with decreased food intake, more water, and solid recovery habits like sleep and yoga). The weight of your ruck doesn't matter much in the beginning. We recommend most ruckers start with 8-10lbs/3.6-4.5kg in their ruck.
If you're not sure you can do 30 minutes yet, start with what you can, and add 5 minutes each day until you're up to 30.
If you really want to supercharge your success, we recommend rucking up to 60 minutes a day a few days a week. As you become more disciplined with rucking, you'll notice that you become faster, and you'll be able to cover more ground in the same amount of time. When that happens, you'll know it's time to increase the weight in your ruck by 5-10% and start the process over again.
HOW LONG SHOULD I RUCK TO IMPROVE MY ENDURANCE?
If you're increasing your endurance fitness base, rucking for 30-60 minutes a day, most days of the week, is still your best bet. Include one longer ruck a week where you ruck for an hour or more.
While you ruck, you'll want to keep an eye on your pace. At PATHFINDER, our recommended goal is a 17-minute mile for moderate endurance improvement, and a 15-minute mile or less is considered a fast ruck with 20+lbs of ruck weight.
If you're focusing on increasing your pace, you'll want to read our blog post on Shin Splints: Rucking Causes and Fixes. Often, shin splints appear when a ruckers pace is extended trying to cover more ground in a step. We recommend a ruck-shuffle, where your feet stay under your hips, and you move in more of a fast walk/jog.
A word of caution: PATHFINDER does not recommend any rucker ever run with a rucksack outside of Event parameters. Sure, you feel like a badass while you're running with a ruck during training, but you may not feel like a badass for long. Our bodies are ours for life, and blowing out a knee is a fast way to end your training plans.
HOW LONG SHOULD I RUCK TO TRAIN FOR A GORUCK OR OTHER ENDURANCE EVENT?
If you're training for a GORUCK or other ruck endurance Event, our first suggestion is to join the current PATHFINDER Class. Our programs help guide you to success by putting you in the driver's seat to your own training. You self-select the PATHFINDER Challenges to work on that are likely to be featured in your scheduled Event, giving you needed experience and training to excel, whether you're planning to do a GORUCK Heavy, a GORUCK Star Course, a Green Beret Fitness Event, or anything else ruck-endurance based.
After that, we recommend that you choose your pace and distance based on your Event's parameters. This is where PATHFINDER Course Advisors really, really shine. Each Course Advisor is a volunteer veteran of PATHFINDER programming, as well as GORUCK Events, OCR's like Spartan Races, and often are top athletes in other disciplines ranging from triathlon to martial arts. Our CA's can help guide you with their personal experiences, and you also have access to our certified athletic professionals.
Each PATHFINDER Class spans 3 months (12 or 13 weeks, depending), giving you adequate time to train up for whatever you've got planned!
Check out PATHFINDER's program options:
Learning what rucking is all about? PATHFINDER Life
Training for a GORUCK Basic? PATHFINDER Forward
Training for a GORUCK Challenge? PATHFINDER Endure
Training for a GORUCK Heavy? PATHFINDER Advanced
Training for a GORUCK Star Course? PATHFINDER Horizon
Training for a GBF OPERATION STIRLING or mountain backpacking? PATHFINDER Stirling
Looking for personalized training for your unique goals? PATHFINDER XP
Need help with your fueling or some weight loss to hit your goals? PATHFINDER Personalized Nutrition Coaching