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February 28 2011

WOW: Persistence Hunt

By Mark Sisson

You have 50 minutes to:

Move/Run/Walk 2.5 Miles Unencumbered
Move/Run/Walk 2.5 Miles With Object 1/5 Bodyweight


Warmup: One minute Grok Squat.

Whoa, whoa, whoa – 50 minutes of cardio, Sisson? Isn’t that dangerously close to “Chronic”? And besides, I thought our ancestors weren’t long distance runners… what gives?

Maintaining a 10-minute mile pace for 50 minutes performed every now and again doesn’t qualify as Chronic Cardio. For one, chronic refers to frequency. Running a half marathon just to see if you can do it isn’t really problematic; training for that half marathon by obsessively running seventy miles a week probably is. This is a challenge, not something to do three times a week.

Mostly, though? This is something to test your mettle and drive you to greater heights. It’s designed to measure how far you’ve come – and how far you can go. Five miles isn’t a huge distance, but when you’re forced to carry a sizable weight for half of those five miles while figuring out how to pace yourself to make the fifty minute limit, things get tricky. This isn’t a pure test of your physical endurance, where you push, push, push until your lungs hurt. It’s also a mental challenge. You have to plan your attack, much like Grok would have done when persistence hunting a prey animal. Do you push yourself for the first leg of the hunt, leaving plenty of time to move 2.5 miles while carrying the weight? Do you sprint, stop, jog, and start, going in fractal spurts, or do you keep a steady pace?

The choice is yours. Just make sure you make it in fifty minutes.

A few things to remember:

  • Vary your carry. Carry the object (sandbag, rock, weighted backpack/vest, plate, dumbbell, etc.) on your right shoulder, then switch to the left. Sling it across your back. Hold it at your chest. Carry it at your side, hanging.
  • Stick to an outdoor setting if possible. Randomness is good, because every step is a new situation to surmount and adapt to. So, trails, hills, or even just grass.
  • The track works well, too. While it won’t provide the fractal randomness of a natural setting, a flat track will make it easier to monitor your progress and measure the distance traveled.


If you feel up to it, do the hunt in 45 minutes. If 50 is beyond your capabilities set your own challenging goal and give this WOW a try.

What are WOWs?

  • Workouts of the Week (WOWs) are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness that add a fractal and often fun and playful quality to the basic PBF protocol.
  • In most cases WOWs should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement. Also, it?s recommended that WOWs replace one or both Lift Heavy Things workouts or the Sprint workout (depending on the WOW) each week instead of being done in addition to the Lift Heavy Things and Sprint workouts.
  • Learn more about WOWs and Primal Blueprint Fitness by getting the free eBook. And access all Workouts of the Week in the WOW Archive.

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12 thoughts on “WOW: Persistence Hunt”

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  1. Hey – I already sorta do this already. Once a week I carry a 50 lbs pack twice around the outter loop of Ute Valley Park. I think it’s about 4.8 miles. However, it takes a lot longer than 50 minutes – I think it’s about 90. Need to step up my game. LOL.

    1. Oh, Ute Valley. That takes me back. I used to boulder there several times a week, but never did the hiking trails.

  2. Sounds like the morning routine on the September elk bowhunts I go on every year in the Rockies. Walk, hike, climb, run on very steep hills with a day pack on – covering 1-10 miles in a morning. If things go well, you spend the next 2 days humping out 50# chunks of lean wild meat. Heaven.

  3. It looks so simple but is probably a bitch to try and complete! I will wait till the snow melts to give this a go… or will I give it a go?

    I have been a HUGE fan of primal poker. Love the variation and the surprise it brings.

    1. I just watched this. WOW. Amazing. I particularly like how the San man is wholly integrated into his ecosystem, identifying with the animal in its fear, exhaustion, pain, and death, and feeling gratitude for its life. Amazing stuff.

  4. Skunk,

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while as well. After watching a TED talk on this sort of practice (link below), I started to wonder myself if things like sweating and bipedal movement preceded persistence hunting, or if they were selected for because of it. Reconciling the negative effects of chronic cardio with this sort of evolutionary adaptation has to, imho, come down to frequency (either due to having other foodstuffs to sustain between hunts or having several tribe members capable of the feat). You have to wonder; did Grok “train” for this type of endurance feat, or is it just another example of how human will may be our best evolutionary advantage yet?

  5. I do this three times a week with a 1/2bw vest. Would that be too much cardio?

  6. I went right out and did the second circuit with a 40 lb bag of cat litter on my back (I weigh 156 – so slightly more than 1/5 of body weight).

    I didn’t stand a chance.

    Thirty-nine minutes for the second two-and-a-half miles.

  7. This really destroyed me 🙂 I weight 230 so I had to carry just under 50 lbs. I finished the first 2.5 miles in 23 minutes by alternating running 2 minutes and then walking 1 minute. Then I picked up the weight (which was a bag full of sand inside of a backpack). I started out running 1.5 minutes and walking 1.5 minutes but I was getting exhausted. I finished up at 58:50 so I didn’t pass. Without doing alot of heavy cardio, how do you get better at this sort of thing? Obviously I need to loose some weight (about 15-20 lbs) to get my body fat down. Would just eating and exersizing primal to get my body fat down be enough to help me do better at something like this?