PATHFINDER Life Guides New To Rucking

First, welcome to PATHFINDER! We are so excited you’re here, and we want to make sure you get everything you need out of this experience. We’re sure you have a lot of questions, and hopefully this info, as well as your CA, can get you all the answers you need.

View a Sample Calendar for a new roster

What do I need? 

If you’ve never rucked before, read this blog post from our ruck club, Team Spearhead.

If you’ve rucked some, read this.

If you know the basics, but have never followed a program, you know you need a ruck (a strong backpack is fine, but here’s our recommended one), some weight to put inside it and some decent shoes. Some people like running shoes, some people go with more specific hiking or rucking/military style footwear. The choice is up to you, depending on your comfort level.

What should I be thinking about?

Be consistent. The best ruckers in PATHFINDER do the same thing, or similar things, Consistent hard work gets consistent results. And you can’t get consistent results if you’re consistently putting things off. Make your calendar. Stick to it. If you jump off the horse, well...jump back on. It didn’t run off without you. Get back on with a different mindset.

PATHFINDER Ruck Training long as you do. We give you the path (it’s in our name…), but you get yourself there. You find your own way, with the guidance and support of our founders, Lyell and Amy Petersen, and your Course Advisors, who lead your small group to success. But ultimately, this is up to you.

The things you don’t like doing are the things you should do. We all have exercises we don’t like (running, anyone?) or we’re afraid we might fail at something so we don’t even try. Here's a big secret: the exercises we dislike are the things we should do. They work. They make you stronger, faster or more agile. Movement is a privilege. Treat it like something special that you get to do every day.

This should be fun, and even exciting! Hard work can be FUN. Getting strong with your community IS fun. Feeling like a badass is motivating. Our program is built on simple, proven principles. Do the work. Feel proud of yourself.

How do I decide my mileage?

Since you’re brand new to rucking, the first thing you want to determine is how many miles make sense for you each week. Then, multiply out from there. Your base requirement is 60 miles. We have a few ways to look at that though.

Your mileage with PATHFINDER Life is flexible. Select what works best for you and your situation.

  • You can choose to do the 60-mile requirement, at any mix of miles per week that works for you. You may choose to start really slowly with the anticipation of adding more miles at the end. Fill out your calendar to decide if that makes sense.
  • You can choose to swap in up to 30 miles of your 60 mile requirement with our LifeFlex option, which is only available in the PATHFINDER Life program.
  • You can choose to do the 1.5x mile Challenge if rucking is where you want to focus most, and ruck up to 90 miles total.

How LifeFlex works:

Trade in 15 minutes of workout time for 1 mile rucking. Your workouts can be either PATHFINDER Ruck Workouts or any variety of cross training. You can swap out workouts for miles at any time during the 12 week program, and LifeFlex can be used for up to 30 miles worth of trade-in value.

Keep track of your LifeFlex conversions in the log by allocating a quarter-mile (.25) per 15 minute workout. In the Notes section of your log entry, write LifeFlex Trade to keep track.

How do I pick my workouts?

Selecting your workouts with PATHFINDER Life is easy. You can choose to do any length PATHFINDER Ruck Workout, or you can complete 45 minutes of any cross-training exercise of your choice. With a minimum of 12 workouts (or double your workouts for 24 total with the Double Workout Challenge), of any style, you create a doable program that keeps you strong, fit and active without taxing your reserves. And if you choose to include the 12 Yoga/Mobility Classes Challenge, you create a full-body routine that improves your mobility, flexibility and healing processes.

Your workouts can also be broken up if necessary. Your 45 minutes of cardio/strength can be divided up throughout the day, however your needs fit and days work, and still count as long as the overall time requirement has been met. 

Example: 10 minutes of upper body strength in the morning, 35 minute walk after dinner. 

  • Keep track of your schedule if you follow this framework to log :45 cardio accurately.
  • At least 12 total workouts must be completed

Any mix of PATHFINDER Ruck Workouts or cross-training workouts of up to :45 min. counts.

PATHFINDER Workouts of any length


:45 min Cross-training minimum 1x/week (in any mix, no ruck requirements)

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Cycling/Spinning
  • Running
  • Lifting
  • Yoga
  • Rowing
  • CrossFit / Boot Camp / Home Gym
  • Treadmill/Elliptical
  • HDT / RuckStrong / GORUCK training app / etc

    How do I select my PATHFINDER Challenges?

    Select PATHFINDER Life Challenges to fit your current situation. Start by selecting three Challenges and fitting them on your calendar. Then, if you feel like you want to do more Challenges, do. If you don’t want to fit more, don’t. It really is that easy.

    Select 3 if:

    • You don’t exercise, or haven’t exercised frequently in the last six months.
    • You have previously only walked as exercise.
    • You feel good about your current fitness level and don’t want to change it.

    Pick 4 - 6 if ...:

    • You want to increase your fitness level, and you have been exercising frequently prior to joining PATHFINDER Ruck Training.
    • You have a Light scheduled during your 90-day program window.
    • You want to commit to a bigger challenge for your own goals and progress.

    See the PATHFINDER Life Challenges here

    How do I know if I’m doing this right?

    Are you rucking? Working out? Have Challenges on your calendar? You’re doing it right. Talk to your CA if you have specific questions, or reach out to our Director of Programming, Amy Petersen. She’s been in fitness for a long time as a certified personal trainer, helping all kinds of athletes reach their goals.

    I’m struggling. What do I do?

    If you just feel stuck, or are fighting with motivation, take a good look at your calendar. (If you didn’t make yourself a calendar, stop what you’re doing, print this, fill it out, and then come back.)

    Are things manageable? Are you doing too much? Are you not doing enough? Are your priorities in alignment with what you really want in life?

    A lot of us, right out of the gate, go hard and take no prisoners. Something new is something EXCITING, and a rough patch can be an unwelcome and sometimes even unexpected PATHFINDER Challenge you didn’t plan for. 

    Sometimes, we are so focused on our goal to lose weight or change our body composition that we fail to realize good, solid nutrition and real rest (going to bed on time, taking a day off at least once a week) can smooth a lot of tough spots. Think about the good things you can do to set yourself up for success. It may be meal planning. It may be making a non-negotiable bedtime. It may be giving yourself some grace. It may be making yourself a real priority again.

    Wherever you find yourself, if you’re struggling and this ‘isn’t fun anymore,’ reach out. We’re here to listen and offer suggestions. You’ve got this.