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Team Spearhead Pathfinder Training Program AAR

In putting together a training plan for my HTL, I decided to use the Team Spearhead Pathfinder Training Program to help guide the majority of my ruck related preparation. My class wrapped up on August 31. Below is my After Action Review.

Pre-Program

I did not know a lot about the program prior to starting it. I had a buddy that had completed it and he highly recommended it. At $15, I was willing to roll the dice and give it a try.

Leading up to the launch day of the program, I was really excited. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen. I understood the gist of the program: put in miles, do ruck WODs, and complete some challenges. But, I wasn’t sure what it was going to look like. Were they going to post workouts each day? Were there recommended miles to ruck each week? Was there going to be a day-by-day schedule of what to do?

I really had no idea, but I was eager to see how it all worked because I had a lot of work to do to get ready for the GORUCK 9/11 HTL.

Click to find an HTL near you. Then train up!

Go Time

Finally, day one arrived. There was no schedule. There was no posted WOD. There was no plan for the week.

I kept wondering, “Am I missing something?”

Then, through some online discussion in the private Facebook group, I came to understand that everything was on me. The program gave me goals to shoot for and a community to support me and offer ideas. But, at the end of the day, I had to pick my goals and figure out how to accomplish them.

Once I understood that I was good. I began to plan.

Goals

In Pathfinder you have a few goals that you have to shoot for that are assigned to everyone. I was doing the “Original” program, which is designed for those who have been rucking for a while. (There is a scaled version for those new to rucking or who are not able to commit to the requirements of the Original.) Here is a helpful chart that explains the differences in the programs. For the Original I would have to:

  • Ruck at least 100 miles
  • Complete at least 20 Ruck Workouts
  • Lead 3 Ruck Workouts As A Team Leader
  • Complete At least 5 PATHFINDER Challenges

So, some of my work was already chosen for me. For the challenges, I could chose from the following:

  1. Pass Selection Standard Test; OR, Attempt the standard test, and show improvement, four times.
  2. Ruck a total of 36 miles before or after a workout (minimum of 4 miles for one individual post).
  3. Mountain ruck > 10 miles (at once). Ruck on trails in a mountainous area – hilly with rough terrain.
  4. Overnight ruck > 20 miles (at once). Start at some point during the night, and don’t stop until you reach 20 miles.
  5. Move 80 Pounds Of Coupons For Every 2 Men In Group > 10 miles.
  6. Ruck a distance of 12 miles in 3.5 hours or less (17:30/mi pace)
  7. Marathon Ruck (Ruck >= 26.2 miles with full challenge weight)
  8. Ruck 100 miles on top of the basic requirement (total of 200 miles in 12 weeks)
  9. Score a minimum of 250 on the APFT
  10. Successfully complete a GORUCK Tough Challenge, GORUCK Heavy Challenge, or equivalent ruck-based challenge.

I chose to go after #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. (I completed all but 1 of these. More on that later.)

Program Highlights

The best thing about the Pathfinder program was that it gave me targets to shoot for that kept me going out and putting in the miles. Knowing I had to get ruck workouts done, pre and post workout rucks, and so many miles really helped me to get out of bed, put on my ruck, and get to work.

Without Pathfinder I suspect that my mileage would have been considerably less during this training period and it may or may not have been in challenging environments like 20 miles at night, or on trails, or with 80# of heavy crap for 10 miles.

Pathfinder pushed me to put in hard work. Lots of hard work.

Along with that, there is a great online community when you’re in the program. When you’re down, they’ll encourage you. When you need help, they’ll provide answers. And when you succeed, they’ll celebrate with you.

“Program” Shortcomings

Pathfinders is for people that can self-motivate. There isn’t anyone (unless you have some friends doing it with you) that is going to push you to do the work. You’ve got to want it.

I can easily see people signing up for the program, getting excited, and then 10 weeks later realize they have too far to go in the last 2 weeks to complete the program. This isn’t really the program’s fault, but I’d say that if you aren’t able to keep yourself motivated, the program probably isn’t for you. It requires self-motivation and self-discipline.

Personally, I have a big goal that I’m working towards. So, every week I had motivation. I knew that checking off these challenges was going to help better prepare me for the real challenge ahead. So, for me, this was not an issue. But, I feel like it is worth noting.

How’d I do?

In the 12 weeks of the program I:

  • Rucked over 200 miles
  • Completed at least 21 ruck workouts (leading 5+ of them with a team)
  • 10 Mile Coupon Ruck (80lb with Paul)
  • 20 Mile overnight ruck where my team bailed at miles 10 and 15, leaving me along for last 5.
  • Scored a 251 on the APFT
  • Did a 10 mile Mtn Ruck with a mean PT session in the middle
  • Rucked more than 36 miles pre/post workout
  • And did two 12 mile timed rucks

The only thing I didn’t complete that I wanted to was the marathon ruck. I simply couldn’t find the 6 +/- hours I needed to complete it (and the additional recovery hours I would have needed).

Recommended?

Yes! But, only if you are self-motivated or have some accountability to keep you on track.

If you’re training for any GORUCK event, the Team Spearhead Pathfinder program will be a great tool. It gives you targets to shoot for that will help you better prepare, yet gives you all the flexibility you need to get it done on your schedule.

Note: If you’re interested in what my training weeks looked like, you can view them here.

Click to find an HTL near you. Then train up!
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