NOTE: Updated Event Training Plans for all 3 Star Course distances and GORUCK Challenges can be found here.
GORUCK Star Course 50-Miler Training Plan
V1.0 July 2018
The Goal: you and your team of 2-5 successfully complete the GORUCK 50 Miler Star Course in 20 hours or less.
Rucking is the foundation of Special Forces training and the GORUCK Star Course 50-Miler is a true test of that foundation, no matter who you are or what you do. This training plan adapts your body to the rigors of rucking long distances. Download the file above as a .pdf (so you can print it up and hang it on your fridge): GORUCK-50-Miler-Training-Plan-2018. I’ll explain it below.
The weight you’ll ruck for your 50 Miler
If you’re 150 lbs or over, you’ll ruck a 20 lbs Ruck Plate. Total weight including water, food, extra clothes and socks, will be around 30 lbs.
If you’re under 150 lbs, you’ll ruck a 10 lbs Ruck Plate. Total weight including water, food, clothes, will be around 20 lbs.
Three components to the training plan:
Ruck Work miles become the endurance base you’ll need to successfully complete your 50 Miler.
Pace – you’re moving at a fast pace (15-20 minutes/mile). When you do Ruck Work that’s under 10 miles, target a pace of 15 minutes/mile. Scale the weight appropriately. If you can scale up, do so incrementally in 10 lb increments. If you need to scale down to hit that pace, do so until you can get to the 15 minute mile pace. For the longer rucks, target a pace of between 15-20 minutes/mile.
Race Weight+ … use your Ruck Plate plus a few pounds (water, etc.) so that your body adapts to the weight you’ll have on your back during the 50 Miler
Strengthen your core, and the muscles you’ll need over the long haul in your 50 Miler. Squats and sandbag tosses strengthen your hip flexors, glutes, and legs in a way that supports proper form while rucking for extended miles. Suitcase carries are an asymmetrical core workout that forces you to stabilize the weight with your core – which you also need to do as you’re moving with weight on your back. Upper body work – pushups and Sandbag military presses strengthen the muscles in your upper body that will be supporting the rucksack on your back.
For the AFAP (As Fast As Possible) Ruck Power miles, 12-15 minutes/mile (do not run) is a solid pace. The purpose of these is to Embrace the Suck, so increase the weight to what your body can safely handle while maintaining proper form.
The time duration of Ruck Power Sandbag and bodyweight PT (Physical Training) is much less than Ruck Work miles. Increase the weight on your back so that your race weight feels light. When you ruck heavy, there’s an Embrace the Suck element that makes you mentally tougher.
Post Ruck Work is done right after you’re done with your ruck for that day. Post Ruck Power is done right after your workout/ruck for that day.
HIDE THE MILES
Movement is recovery, especially with reduced weight on your back. When training for a significant rucking event, there is no substitute for time under a ruck. In order to reduce the time required to complete the Ruck Work miles, incorporate your weighted ruck into your daily life. Ruck the dog, ruck to work, ruck the kids, mowruck (wear a ruck while mowing the lawn). Your body will strengthen to adapt itself to the rucksack and your feet will get used to moving with additional weight.
The pace is not important, time under a ruck is. If you’re (too) sore, reduce the weight.
These are recovery days, which means that you continue to improve your foundational endurance base through rucking, but keep the weight on your back at or below your 50 Miler weight.
Frequency: ongoing. Hide the Miles to reach the weekly mileage goal according to the phase you’re in. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be short on time and you’ll need to basically wear your ruck everywhere with you to optimize the time you do have to train.
Listen to your body if you want to do other activities such as yoga, swimming, biking, or functional fitness. Activity is good, overtraining and injuries are not. Of all the other activities, I recommend yoga the most.
50 MILER PACE REQUIRED*
|23||Minute/Mile Pace||21||Minute/Mile Pace||17||Minute/Mile Pace||15||Minute/Mile Pace|
*Plan on doing 52 miles (your route selection matters) at your Star Course 50 Miler and training to that time standard.
UP THE WEIGHT: HOW TO DO FEWER MILES IN LESS TIME IN THIS TRAINING PLAN
Here’s a “trick” to optimize your time in training up. It centers on the idea of how to calculate “Ruck Work.” The simple, non-scientific way we’ve done it in the past is Ruck Weight x Distance. If your Ruck Weight (not counting water or consumables) is 20 LBS and you ruck 10 miles that’s 20×10=200 Ruck Work (RW) units. To get a similar work out, you can try 40 LBS x 5 miles and get the same RW out of it. 40×5 = 200 RW.
The trick is how you scale the weight up. If you get too heavy too fast, you make yourself susceptible to injury. Scale incrementally, no more than 10-15 lbs at a time. So, if your ruck weighs 35 lbs on Tuesday, and you’re rucking again on Friday, do not scale up to more than 45-50 lbs. Your body needs time to adapt to the additional weight over the miles.
If you’re a beginner to rucking, do the BASE portion of the training plan before you up the weight.
So, what’s too heavy?
Doctrine says ⅓ of your bodyweight is the max you want to ruck with. Experienced ruckers can safely scale up above this, but unless you’re in Special Forces or an elite Infantry unit in the military, there is no need.
Bottom line: learn how to scale up the weight slowly and safely, and adapt your body to do the Ruck Work in the time you have. When in doubt, a volume of movement wearing a rucksack will best prepare you for your Star Course 50 Miler.
RUCK WORK vs. HIDE THE MILES – If you’re having problems blocking off enough time to do the Ruck Work every week, hide more miles. This means wear your ruck as much as possible, until it feels like a part of your body. People might think you’re weird, they probably already do since you’re training for a GORUCK 50 Miler and they’re not. Their loss.
RUCK WORK vs. heavier RUCK WORK – If the 22 mile ruck at your 50 Miler weight (+) at week 12 just isn’t in the cards, increase the weight and decrease the mileage proportionately, so you can still do the work. You could do an 11 mile ruck at 60 lbs instead of a 22 mile ruck at 30 lbs. The big assumption here is that your body can handle that additional weight, which requires a build-up, some of which you’ve gotten through the power sessions. When in doubt, decrease the weight – this ensures that you keep proper form that your body can handle at that time.
RUCK POWER – These workouts train the muscles you’ll need to be an elite rucker (which you will be if you complete the GORUCK 50 Miler Star Course). Your core, your glutes, your thighs, your hip flexors. The exercises prescribed increase your range of movement and increase blood flow throughout your body. When in doubt, prioritize your form over adding additional weight. And keep going. Maintain good form on your squats at all times. If you can’t, stop. Injuries keep you out of the fight, and out of your training. Keep good form.
For the heavier weight, shorter distance rucks, you can measure your Ruck Power, and compare your results over time.
Ruck Power = Ruck Work/time
Mass is the weight of your rucksack, in pounds. Distance is in miles, Time is in minutes.
Here are a few example calculations. Notice that the time does not factor into the results of Ruck Work, but it’s very important to Ruck Power. Move faster to increase your Ruck Power score:
Ruck Work, Ruck Power
|Work = Mass*Distance||Distance (miles)||100||4||4||4||2||1|
|Power = (Mass*Distance)/Time||Time (mins)||1500||60||60||45||30||15|
We recommend that anyone new to rucking start with a 20 lb Ruck Plate. Your shoulders and back, glutes and thighs have to get used to rucking. Because humans have a foundational movement base formed by walking, the body adapts quickly to rucking. Those in better shape will be able to scale the speed and add additional weight. Those who need to scale more slowly, scale more slowly. When in doubt, decrease the weight. If it’s “too easy”, scale back up.
Do not “ruck run”. Proper form is walking with weight on your back. If you want to increase the pace, step it out. But do not run. Running sucks, it’s brutal on your knees, and you don’t need (and won’t want) to run to complete the GORUCK 50 Miler Star Course.
Do not scale the weight up more than 10-15 lbs at a time (i.e. don’t go from a 20 lb to a 45 lb Ruck Plate because you thought the 20 lb was easy). Go from a 20 lb Ruck Plate to a 30 lb Ruck Plate instead. To challenge yourself more, ruck faster.
Good form is everything. Your gait should be like it is when you’re walking. Shoulders back, very slight lean forward from the torso, one foot after the other. If you feel the need to slouch forward or break form, either fight through it maintaining the correct form, or reduce the weight and keep going, with the correct form.
Max weight on your back: doctrine says do not exceed ⅓ of your bodyweight and this is a good rule of thumb. Practically speaking, a 45 lb Ruck Plate can challenge even the most experienced ruckers across the entire large body weight spectrum. Just increase your speed for more of a challenge at any weight.
If you feel injured, stop so you can heal. Many of us have ignored this advice and we’ve always paid for it in the long run.
Rucksack – we recommend the GORUCK Rucker with a Padded Hip Belt and a Sternum Strap.
10/20/30/45 lbs Ruck Plates set – or go with your 50 Miler weight and scale up or down with other weight. Ruck Plates are the best weight to ruck.
40/60/80 lbs Sandbags with Filler Bags. To scale throughout the training plan, you’ll want to scale the weight up or down. Some days you need a little less, other days you want a little more.
What you do not need for this training plan is a gym membership or any other equipment. Your bodyweight is the foundation, Sandbags and Rucks scale you up.
Time under a ruck over a volume of miles and activities is your greatest predictor of success for the 50 Miler. You can hide the miles but you can’t cheat the work. If you do the work and prioritize form above all else, including weight, you’ll see a lot of positive adaptations to your body and you’ll be ready for the 50 Miler.
This training plan demands discipline, toughness, and sacrifice — qualities that benefit you in life and in the successful completion of your 50 Miler.
Find a buddy and get to work. You make your own luck on this one.