The 4 x 4 x 48 David Goggins Challenge • Summit and Beyond
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The 4 x 4 x 48 David Goggins Challenge

David Goggins 4x4x48 Chalenge

The 4 x 4 x 48 David Goggins Challenge

Who is David Goggins?

David Goggins, the former Navy Seal and globally recognised ultra runner strikes me as both inspiring and slightly mental.

The first time I came across Goggins was on a You Tube video. He was barking at the camera like  sergeant major hammering home the realities of war to his men. Having been in the Army his language and approach caught my attention and after a number of hours listening to Goggins and researching who he is I decided to read his book ’Cant Hurt Me’.

David Goggins

I highly recommend reading the book so I will not go into his story here, but lets just say David Goggins has lived an extremely interesting and challenging life. He doesn’t seem to stop pushing himself and as I listened to the audio book I started to think that this amount of punishment can not be good for anyone.

His endless messages of callusing the mind and facing the demons, 99% of the time cause my eyes to squint, brow to wrinkle and head to retract as the voice in my mind cries out “This dude is crazy”!

But, like any opportunity I have dismissed without considering the curiosity gradually evolves into something I can not ignore.

What is the 4x4x48 Challenge?

I first heard about the 4x4x48 challenge on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Joe Rogan was interviewing Jessie Itzler. Itzler invited Goggins to live with him for 30 days and asked for Goggins to test him for that period. Itzler describes the 30 days as both the craziest and best thing he has ever done. He explains a 48 hour period of time where Goggins made him run 4miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.

4x4x48 challenge

The challenge looks like this:

Round 1  16:00 Run 4 miles

Round 2   20:00 Run 4 miles

Round 3   00:00 Run 4 miles

Round 4   04:00 Run 4 miles

Round 5   08:00 Run 4 miles

Round 6   12:00 Run 4 miles

Round 7   16:00 Run 4 miles

Round 8   20:00 Run 4 miles

Round 9   00:00 Run 4 miles

Round 10 04:00 Run 4 miles

Round 11 08:00 Run 4 Miles

Round 12 12:00 Run 4 miles

The idea is to run 48 miles within 48 hours with the added challenge of sleep deprivation. To achieve this, every 4 hours you have to run 4 miles. This means if you start running at 16:00 and it takes 40 minutes to run 4 miles then you have 3 hours and 20 minutes rest before heading out on your next 4 mile run.

If you would like to watch my 4x4x48 David Goggins challenge tap the image below and enjoy watching me go through hell.

4x4X48 hallenge

why did I decide to do it?

When I heard about this challenge for the first time I was like “yeah that sounds brutal” and never thought much more about it. In fact, over the past 12 months I have stopped watching David Goggins as much as I used to. 

Then, last week 11th April as I started my shift at work. My colleague Brian and I were chatting about things we are watching to stay entertained during lock down. Brian mentioned that he had watched ‘The Nomadic Veteran’ complete the 4x4x48 on youtube, you can see ‘The Nomadic Veteran’, his 4x4x48 and You Tube channel here. 

As soon as Brian said this my ears perked up and I was like “oh yeah, thats the David Goggins challenge, ill have to watch that” then without any consideration or control over it my mouth went on to say “intact I am going to do this when I get off shift”.

Brian left work, and me feeling both excited and confused as to why I had just made my self accountable to doing that crazy challenge. I phoned my partner Emma to run it by her and see if she would be ok with me doing the challenge when I returned home. I was secretly hoping she would show reluctance and advice me not to do it, but she simply said “yeah sure ill support you”. So there you go, the decision was made and I had the next 2 days in at work to prepare my mind for the hellish punishment.

All that said, if you know me you also know I am a deep thinker. Therefore when I decide to take on a challenge like this there is usually a good reason. on this occasion my reason was that for the past few months I have been training for an Ultra Run known as the ‘Joss Naylor Challenge’.  The Joss Naylor Challenge starts in Pooley Bridge situated at the North eastern area of the Lake District and takes us South West over the mountains to Greendale just off the west bank of Wast Water.

Jayne, a close friend, and I have been clocking up the miles in the Lake district mountains in preparation for this challenge which was due to take place in June 2020. We were doing a 15 to 20 mile run every week with shorter runs in between. I was slowly extending the amount of time I was running each week and starting to feel strong and then the pandemic hit. As the restrictions started to creep in my dream of taking on the Joss Naylor challenge started to fade. Eventually Jayne and I both accepted that our challenge would have to be cancelled for now.

For about 4 days I went into a depression and felt like I had no purpose. My mountains had been snatched away, there was no point in training any more and my business was down the pan. This darkness didn’t last long because my 5 year old daughter and my partner need me to be proactive and adaptable. I picked my self back up by focusing on a healthy morning routine including exercise, meditation and journaling. Then I started thinking about how I can channel my pent up physical energy into something… anything.

Que Brian and his 4x4x48 seed of motivation!

Round by Round how the 4x4x48 challenge felt.

on Saturday 13th April 2020 at 12:00 I got on my bike and cycled the 25 miles home. I arrived home at 14:15, my ride taking 2 hours and 15 minutes. On returning home I planned to rest until 20:00 at which point I would begin the challenge, but by 14:30 I was feeling like starting earlier so I told Emma I would start at 16:00 instead of 20:00.

At 16:00 on the dot I set off on my first round of 4 miles. My legs felt heavy after my bike ride home but I seemed to have a good pace and complete the loop in 40 minutes.

For some reason i decided that sleeping in my tent was a good idea. Therefore, during my rest time between round 1 and 2 i set my tent up and relaxed with Isla and Emma.

  • 4 miles complete

20:00 Round 2. 47 minutes – My quads were starting to feel broken because of the bike ride home. It felt like I had been squatting heavy weights for hours and I needed to stop and rest but I pushed through and continued running. My quads got tighter and tighter and by the end of the second loop I started to feel my IT band begin to twinge. When I returned home we put Isla to bed and Emma kindly gave my legs a rub down before I spent some time foam rolling and stretching to try and relax my quads before the next round.

  • 8 miles complete

00:00 Round 3. 1hr 4 mins – I set off with a slow pace feeling worried about my IT Band. I was starting to convince my self that I have pulled my left quad badly and my leg was buckling under my hip causing pain in my IT band. Every time I felt the IT pain I slowed to a walk and tried to stretch it out as I walked. The pain would go, I would start running and then after 50 meters or so the pain would come back. I started to think I was been silly trying this challenge after a two day shift and 25 mile bike ride home, i was already thinking about quitting. I got back to my tent and put my head down to sleep.

  • 12 miles complete

04:00 Round 4. 1hr 19mins – I dragged my self out of my tent put my down jacket on and committed to walking this round. Accepting that my quads were going to take some time to recover from my bike was difficult because my ego was flexing, but I had attacked the first round too hard and fast and now I was paying for it. I walked the whole round and then crashed back in my tent until the alarm went off at 8am.

  • 16 miles complete

08:00 Round 5. 54 minutes – As I set off I noticed my quads were feeling a lot better so i broke into a slow run. Everything felt fine so i continued at this pace the whole way round. On this loop I started giving my self tick off features and two points which I could stop and walk. One walking point was up a steep grassy bank and the other was between two gates situated 10 meters apart. These small aims would become my anchor to success.

  • 20 miles complete

12:00 Round 6. 47 Minutes – I felt fine on this run and my pace was beginning to pick up again. There is a section where I cross a wooden bridge over the south Tyne river and I had a teary moment. I was in physical pain and my thoughts had been trying to stop me since round two, but in this moment walking over that bridge I experienced a sense of separation. my thoughts were still very much anchored to the physical pain and my body was screaming for me to stop, but I felt deeply happy inside. I could see and feel the brutal truth of nature and i was 100% within it and connected to it.

  • 24 miles complete

high five

Half Way

16:00 Round 7. 1 hour 41 minutes – Before I set out on round 7 Emma and Isla had started to show signs of cabin fever. Therefore, I suggested they both join me on this round. I said I would be happy to walk it if they came with me. It was a lovely walk even though I had done the same route 7 times now. Emma and Isla both returned home with smiles and I returned with 2 hours and 40 minutes to rest.

  • 28 miles complete


  20:00 Round 8. 48 minutes – We cooked dinner before this round so I ate half and saved the other half for when i returned. I could feel the weather was going to be a lot colder through the night tonight so I prepared to dig deep. The running was painful but I started to feel like I had broken through the psychological barrier, or so I thought.

  • 32 miles complete

00:00 Round 9. 57 Minutes – *ALARM SOUNDING* I half woke up on the couch feeling extremely comfortable. I was confused why my alarm was going off so I picked my phone up and looked at the time. 00:00. “midnight! What the fuck is going on” I said to my self. Then I remembered I was supposed to be doing that 4x4x48 Goggins challenge but in my half sleeping state I thought it was all a dream. I put my phone back down and moved my leg to adjust position and I felt the deep ache in my muscles, then I remembered. “ah crap it is time to run again”.

  • 36 miles complete

04:00 Round 10. 1hr 3 mins – *ALARM SOUNDING* I fumbled with my phone and dropped it the alarm went off. I laid there for a little longer building up the courage to sit up and put my running shoes back on, but then I woke up again. 30 minutes had past and it was now 04:30. I felt like punching my self!

I sat up and put my shoes on, left the house and started round 10. Once I got going I felt ok psychologically but my stomach was not happy. I started to feel extremely sick and slowed down to a walk. as soon as i started to walk I felt better again so I picked the pace back up, but no sooner had I started to run I started to feel like my stomach was going to empty one way or the other. Round 10 was by far the darkest and most uncomfortable. It felt like it took forever and I was happy to get back, I crashed on the couch again.

  • 40 miles complete

08:00 Round 11. 54 Minutes – I woke up and got straight out and into the run. I reflected on round 10 and realised it must be the early morning running that my body struggles with because now I felt strong again. The running had now become a process. A cold calculated mechanism to get me from the start of the challenge to the end. I aimed for each tick off feature in turn and only when I reached my current aim did I consider the next one. If my thoughts started to focus on the pain in my body I quickened my pace to prove to my self I had much more to give. I returned home and did the washing up and made breakfast for Emma and Isla.

  • 44 miles complete

12:00 Round 12. 51 minutes- By now I was in the groove and I was more than happy to keep going. At mile three on this final loop Emma and Isla came to meet me and Isla ran the last mile home with me. it was a lovely experience to share the last few minutes with someone who I hope grows to love running and endurance adventures too.

  • 48 miles and challenge complete

What did I learn from this challenge?

I learned that my by day 2 my body was beginning to recover much faster. I believe this type of training would be amazing for and Ultra race especially if you have a family. 40 minutes to 1 hour every 4 hours is not a lot of time away from home but you are achieving a huge amount of distance over the full two days.

I learned that my body struggles to operate at 4am and if i try to force it, it fights back. Nevertheless, for the rest of the 24 hour clock I seem to be able to run fine. Fruit is my favorite ultra challenge food. The taste of the fruit seemed to be enhanced and i could feel the energy it was providing.   


I learned that the almost defining noise of pain and the negative thoughts that come along with pain do not consume everything. There is still a huge space left which is filled with silence. If i were to allow my self to listen to the thoughts and feelings of pain I would break down and stop. Nevertheless, if I respect the silence all of a sudden I feel free and open. I can enjoy my surroundings, I can speed up, slow down smile and feel happy inside. There is a huge space of peace on the other side of pain, but first you have to accept the journey.

If you have enjoyed reading about my 4x4x48 challenge, or you watched the video, you can follow my adventures here