The 4x4x48 Challenge has quickly grown in popularity since its introduction at the beginning of the pandemic. For distance and endurance runners looking for a new challenge, this provides a unique opportunity to push your body without needing to travel or pay for an expensive race.
What is the 4x4x48 challenge?
The 4x4x48 challenge is simple: run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours. This challenge was created by David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal, endurance athlete, public speaker and ultrarunner. It was created when races were being cancelled around the world, and endurance runners were looking for ways to challenge themselves without the typical race setting.
Completing the 4x4x48 challenge means that you will run 48 miles (or 77 kilometers) over the course of 2 days. This mileage is certainly more than a marathon, and although it is spread out of the course of 48 hours, it is understandably difficult.
Can you walk the 4x4x48 challenge?
While it was originally created for runners, the 4x4x48 challenge has been adapted to include athletes who are not runners as well. If you don’t wish to run, you can complete the challenge by exercising for 45-60 minutes every 4 hours for 48 hours.
Is the 4x4x48 challenge an ultramarathon?
While the 4x4x48 challenge is not an official ultramarathon, the distance is well into ultramarathon territory. Running 48 miles requires a great deal of physical and mental resilience and stamina, whether it is completed all at one time or spread out of two days.
Where to find the David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge?
The official Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge can be found on his website. This page has not been updated since March 2022, but will likely be updated some time in 2023. Signing up for the official challenge allows you to order t-shirts.
However, any runner can complete the challenge on their own for the personal reward. Completion can be shared on social media or simply with family and friends.
What to Expect with the 4x4x48 Challenge
Although the 4x4x48 challenge might sound straightforward, most runners can attest to the fact that it is far different than any other race. The concept is simple, but the challenge is far from easy.
At first glance, the challenge might sound easier than most distance races, since there is a break in between runs. However, as time passes and your body fatigued, getting out the door for a 4 mile run becomes significantly more difficult. Here are a few of the hurdles to expect during the 4x4x48 challenge.
Running at night
Perhaps the most difficult, and most different, part about the 4x4x48 challenge compared to other races is that you will have to complete multiple runs at night. Since a run takes place every 4 hours, you’ll need to run at least twice in the middle of the night, depending on your timing.
Limited recovery time
It may sound like there will be plenty of time to recover, since there will be at least 3 hours from the end of one run to the beginning of the next. However, this time begins to feel shorter and shorter as time goes on and your body fatigues. By the second day, three hours is not nearly enough time for your body to recover, so you will be running on tired legs.
Don’t expect to be productive
Three hours of rest sounds like a lot of time to get things done in between, but when you add in recovery, nutrition and daily hygiene activities, there’s not much down time. You’ll want to avoid overscheduling yourself in order to provide your body and mind with as much time as possible to recover and prepare for the next run.
Expect mental fatigue
Regardless of how efficiently you recover, or how seasoned a distance runner you may be, there are bound to be some mental hurdles throughout this challenge. Take the time to anticipate this mental fatigue and prepare strategies to use to boost motivation and willpower during the challenge.
How to Train for the 4x4x48 Challenge
Training for the 4x4x48 challenge is not unlike training for other long distance races, such as marathons and ultramarathons. Building a solid mileage base is key to success for this challenge.
In addition, you’ll want to incorporate some extra strength training to boost strength in your legs and help prevent fatigue during the 48 miles. Running on tired legs during training will also provide your body with some practice for the second day of this challenge, when fatigue really hits its peak.
Tips for Running David Goggins 4x4x48
Running the 4x4x48 challenge is no easy feat. However, it is well within the realm of possibilities for most long distance runners, and a great way to mix things up and challenge yourself in a new way. Here are a few tips for success.
Take it slow and easy
This is one of the few races where speed might actually negatively affect your result. There is little to be gained by running fast, especially on day one. Taking things slow and easy in the beginning will set you up for more energy and willpower by the second day when the body and mind fatigue.
Focus on enjoying the runs, spending time in the moment, and staying comfortable as you complete the 4x4x48 challenge.
Recover in between
Recovery is the key to success in Goggins 4x4x48. Make a point to spend some time on recovery after every run – even in the beginning before your legs might feel tired. Stretching, ice baths, foam rolling, yoga and more are all incredibly beneficial in between.
Sleep whenever you can
Expect to not be able to get much sleep at night, since it will be broken into 3 hour sections between runs. Because you won’t be able to get a full night’s sleep, it’s important to sleep whenever possible throughout the day.
Emphasize fueling and hydration
Staying hydrated and properly fueled is incredibly important throughout this 48 hour challenge. Stay on top of your nutrition and water intake, and prioritize consuming calories after each run to allow your body time to digest before heading out again.
Create a plan
Like most goals, success with the 4x4x48 challenge requires having a plan in place ahead of time. Take the time to plan out when your runs are going to start to best meet your daily rhythm. Pick a route that is safe and easily accessible, and one that will be interesting to run over the course of 2 days. Plan your nutrition and recovery strategies as well.
Safety is key – especially when running at night in the dark. Sticking close to home, in a well-lit area, and telling someone exactly where and when you will be running will help you stay as safe as possible.
Enlist a support crew
It is nearly impossible to complete the 4x4x48 challenge without a support crew. Find a person or a few people who can help have food ready to go, keep your water bottle filled, keep track of your whereabouts at night, and help you recover in any way possible.
The David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge is a great way to take your running to the next level. It requires no travel, no race fee, and is accessible to anyone. Once you finish, you’ll have bragging rights in the running community and an interesting story to share with anyone you meet. Try it this year!