As I stood at my door, about to take off on my first leg of the 4x4x48 Challenge, I was excited and nervous.
David Goggins’ grueling endurance challenge consists of running 4 miles (6.44km) every 4 hours for 48 hours.
Little did I know that the next two days would be a rollercoaster of physical and mental challenges, moments of joy, and valuable lessons that would stay with me long after the final miles were logged.
The First 4 Miles
The inaugural 4-mile run was a burst of energy and anticipation.
The crisp morning air filled my lungs as I embraced the open road. There was a rhythm to my run as I was excited about the adventure ahead.
The initial miles were surprisingly enjoyable, setting the tone for the challenge to come.
The First 4 Hours
As the clock ticked toward the second run, the reality of the 4x4x48 Challenge became apparent.
The second set of 4 miles was a transition from enthusiasm to a more pragmatic mindset.
Recovery, nutrition, and managing sleep took precedence.
I had time for a quick meal between legs one and two, and as fast as I sat on the couch to relax, it was time to get ready to run again.
I never realized how fast four hours can go by.
Midnight Madness (Hour 8-12)
The midnight run was a surreal experience.
The world was quiet, and the challenge was staying alert while maintaining a steady pace in the cool night air.
During these hours, I truly grasped the magnitude of the challenge—running while the world slept.
Daytime Grind (Hour 16-20)
The midday runs brought with them the challenge of heat and exhaustion.
The fatigue from the previous miles lingered, and it was a surprisingly warm day, which added an extra layer of difficulty.
I hadn’t gotten more than an hour’s sleep between the runs, and that began to take its toll.
Mental resilience became paramount as I navigated the physical strain, focusing on the immediate task rather than the daunting hours ahead.
Predawn Push (Hour 28-32)
As the predawn hours approached, the challenge intensified. The world was silent, and fatigue was growing. The desire to rest was overwhelming, but the goal of completing the 4x4x48 pushed me forward.
This was one of the hardest runs to get up for. After a second nearly sleepless night, motivation waned as it still felt so far from the end of the challenge, but I didn’t want to give up after putting in so much time and effort.
The Final Push (Hour 40-44)
The final midnight run. The physical strain was at its peak, but the end was in sight.
It felt like I got a second wind, knowing I was just a few runs away from completing the challenge.
Moments of Joy
One of the unexpected joys of the challenge was experiencing the beauty of sunrise during the early morning runs. The quiet solitude, the changing colors of the sky, and the promise of a new day provided a much-needed physical and mental boost.
Sharing the challenge with others created a sense of camaraderie. The friends who joined me on some of my runs, especially during the late-night runs of the challenge, created a supportive atmosphere that made the difficult moments a lot more bearable.
This helped keep me accountable and gave me an extra source of motivation to get out the door.
Having support during my time in between runs was also crucial to recovering as best as possible. Coming home to food already made for me was a major factor in being well-fueled during the challenge.
If you don’t have someone who is able to do this for you, I would recommend making some food ahead of time so that it’s already prepared when you get back, because let me tell you, the last thing you want to do after a 2 am run is cook.
I quickly realized that I would have around three hours to digest food before I’d be heading out the door again. This meant I was going to have to keep my meals small and easily digestible, or else I was going to pay for it on the next run.
My 4x4x48 diet was by no means a “clean” diet. A lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, countless bags of gummy worms, and bagels were staples throughout the challenge.
This was certainly an oversight when I first took on the challenge. I thought that I’d be so tired that falling asleep would come easily. It was actually the opposite.
For me, the deeper I got into the challenge, the more difficulty I had falling asleep. By the end of the challenge, the longest sleep I had was just under two hours, and throughout the challenge, rarely got over 90 minutes.
Coming into the 4x4x48, I planned to shower at least once each day, ideally after every three legs.
After the first sleepless night, I lost any motivation to take a shower. All I wanted to do in between runs was lay in bed, and that’s what I did.
My legs also got so sore that standing any amount of time in the shower, or anywhere, just increased the soreness.
The 4x4x48 Challenge reinforced the power of resilience and grit. When faced with physical and mental obstacles, I discovered a reservoir of strength within myself that I didn’t know existed.
The ability to persevere through discomfort became a lesson in mental toughness that extended beyond the challenge itself.
Flexibility and adaptability were key to navigating the challenge successfully. Learning to adjust my pace, nutrition, and rest based on how my body responded allowed me to optimize performance and minimize the impact of fatigue.
Mind Over Matter
The mind plays a pivotal role in endurance challenges. Overcoming the urge to quit during the toughest moments required a strong mental game.
I learned to break down the challenge into manageable segments, focusing on the present rather than the daunting hours ahead.
Finisshing the 4x4x48 Challenge was a moment of triumph. The difficulty of the journey was undeniable, but so was the profound sense of accomplishment.
The challenge pushed me to my limits, revealing both vulnerabilities and strengths. It was a test not only of physical endurance but also of mental resilience and adaptability.
The 4x4x48 Challenge is more than a mere physical feat; it’s a transformative experience that gave me a profound sense of self-discovery. While the difficulties are abundant, so too are the moments of joy and the lessons learned along the way.
As I reflect on those 48 hours, I carry with me not only the sore muscles but also a newfound appreciation for what my body and mind are capable of, even when the path is grueling and uncertain.