How to decide your mileage if you’re coming down off an intense training regimen
If you’re coming from other PATHFINDER training programs, you’ve put down some serious training miles. It’s time to take a deep breath and get your mind right. Acknowledge that while your capability may change as you adapt to a lower-mileage training program, you're committing now to take the time to come back stronger. An off season gives you the chance to hone your skills (like correcting your push-up form, as an example), gives your body needed and consistent active recovery and you’ll still keep a strong base of fitness. An off season, done right, can return some serious dividends when it’s time to start training heavy again - you’ll be more rested and ready.
If you’re coming down off Endure or Advanced (or any other high-mileage/heavy work programming) You might want to stick with what you know and continue rucking. If you select the 1.5x Rucking Miles Challenge, that puts you at a maximum of 90 miles for a 90-day cycle. You might feel a little unsure. Isn’t this going to undo your hard-earned progress?
We promise you - it’s not.
You won’t be undertraining - you’ll be training in the just-right zone. Even if you select other Challenges and opt to work within “only” the required mileage of 60 miles, you’re striking a balance. When we overtrain for long periods of time, like you might have done, you can come face to face with fatigue, chronic joint and muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, or potentially derailing your training with an illness or injury. When we back off of over-training for a cycle, it gives our body a chance to catch-up.
If you’re coming off Forward PATHFINDER Life will be an easier transition. Forward and Life are great programs to toggle between for regular fitness maintenance and event preparation. These two programs are great for a majority of PATHFINDER athletes whose ultimate goal is a strong level of fitness, but not 100% event preparedness at all times.
Your mileage with PATHFINDER Life is flexible.
- You can choose to do the 60-mile requirement, at any mix of miles per week that works for you.
- 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.
- Or, 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.
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 to pick your 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 with the Double Workout Challenge for 24 total), 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)
- CrossFit/Boot Camp/Home Gym
- HDT / RuckStrong / GORUCK training app / etc
How to select your PATHFINDER Challenges
If you are healthy, feeling good and coming off of Endure, Advanced or Horizon training programs, or any other high-mileage or heavy training program, and are able to happily keep a balanced schedule, we recommend you commit to 4-6 Challenges. But...
The option of 3 Challenges is 100% okay, and we encourage you to really think about what you need during your off season. There is ZERO shame in committing to less than you think you “should.” We make choices based on what we need.
Select 3 if:
- You are feeling constantly exhausted, always sore, having trouble sleeping, or any other serious symptoms of overtraining, like difficulty eating, or eating too much, you are feeling stress beyond what seems “normal” for you, you have nagging minor overuse injuries or just feel irritable all the time.
Pick 4 - 6 if ...:
- you’re coming down off of Endure, Advanced or Horizon-level program work and are moving into a training “off season” and feel healthy, recovered after a normal night's sleep and feel you manage stress appropriately
- you want to keep up your higher baseline fitness between programs or have a Light scheduled during your 90-day program window
- you are beginning at a higher level of overall fitness
- your work/life balance schedule allows it
What does Active Recovery look like for you?
While we don’t outright suggest Active Recovery in PATHFINDER Life (mainly because it might not apply to everyone), it is an Active Recovery plan by design for those of us who have been in extended and challenging training cycles.
If you selected 3-4 Challenges because you previously overtrained, this next part specifically applies to you and we want to say this clearly:
If you’ve been grinding your body into the ground for so many months you’ve lost count, you need Active Recovery. Maybe badly. We’re encouraging you to be active enough to increase blood flow, but gentle enough to allow your body time to heal and adjust.
Your workouts can and should decrease in intensity, your mile pace can and should slow, and any additional Challenges you take on should have reduced ferocity. We highly recommend Yoga and/or Mobility (foam rolling counts!) as a part of your weekly, if not daily, routine.
You may feel a little uncertain. This might even feel scary. That’s okay. A normal amount of anxiety can occur when a previously-overtrained athlete comes off the heavy work cycle. We promise you, fitness is a healthy spectrum, and taking workouts at a slower pace provides your body with much-needed benefits and might include improvement in sleep, mood, nutrition and efficiency.
You’ve committed to PATHFINDER Life in order to slow down and heal your body, not increase your capacity during the programming window. If you’re committing to a post-overtraining, lower-intensity recovery calendar, your focus should be more on rucking, swimming, walking, and yoga to round out your workout requirements. If you choose to run, focus on running slowly. If you choose to spin or row, select a low-intensity regimen. Low intensity work has a powerful restorative effect. You might be surprised how much benefit you gain.