9 Top Tips for the David Goggins Annual 4x4x48 Challenge

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David Goggins recently announced the next annual 4x4x48 running challenge on his social media which means one thing: it’s game on. This post shares the 9 tips for making your 4x4x48 as successful as possible.

Authors Note (09/03/2021): As mentioned in this article, I took part in the David Goggins annual 4x4x48 challenge from the 5th to the 8th March 2021. I made a video documenting the experience for my YouTube Channel. Please like, subscribe and share if you find it useful:

What is the 4x4x48 Challenge and why is it difficult?

The challenge is simple. Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours straight. That’s almost 2 marathons in 2 days.

Despite its simplicity, the 4x4x48 is a pressing test of resilience, endurance and willpower. Whilst 4 miles isn’t a major strain for most athletes, it’s the frequency of needing to run them which makes this challenge tough.

Because you have to put in 4 miles every 4 hours, you can’t get quality sleep. Sure, you might get the odd two and a half hours but the alarm bell will soon ring ordering you out of the comfortable bed and into the running shoes for another 4 miles.

Some find the wear and tear on the body particularly difficult. The first three or four 4-mile runs will be fine for most athletes but the constant running will soon result wear you out. Your muscles will start feeling sorer as the challenge progresses, and each run will become harder to maintain than the last.

The 4x4x48 challenge is also tough due to the willpower required. It’s easy to motivate yourself to run once or maybe even twice in a day but having to do so 12 times in 2 days is a sheer willpower test. Whilst you may be reading this thinking ‘easy, I’ll be able to take that on’, I guarantee you that (from personal experience) it’s a totally different conversation you’ll have with yourself when it’s 4AM on the second day and you’re exhausted.

How did the 4x4x48 challenge become popular?

The 4x4x48 running challenge first became well known after billionaire Jesse Itzler wrote about it in his 2015 hit book ‘Living With A SEAL‘, in which he documents 31 days training with Goggins who came to live with him.

After having seen Goggins take on a 24-hour ultra race as a solo effort whilst himself taking part as part of a large team, Itzler became fascinated. What compelled Goggins to act in such a determined and all-out manner? Was it even possible for someone to run 24-hours on their own in one go? Itzler was intrigued.

Worried he was becoming too soft and living on autopilot in the comforts of his lavish lifestyle, he invited Goggins to come live with him to see if he could learn from his determined mindset. In other words, David totally beasted him. From running in the snow to doing pushups and pullups, David certainly puts Itzler through his paces in the book.

Later on in the book, Jesse describes his experience doing the 4x4x48 challenge with David and he labels it as the hardest workout by far that they did together. No pressure then.

What is the David Goggins Annual 4x4x48 Challenge?

Starting in 2020, David publicises the annual 4x4x48 challenge in January and rallies all of his followers to take it on with the aim of raising as much money for charity.

6 days ago, David took to his social media channel to announce once again the 2021 4x4x48 challenge which will take place from 8PM on March 5th.

For those that go above and beyond in 2021, raising as much money possible in the most out of the box way, there are prizes up for grabs. These include copies of his best-selling book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’, shorts and tops from his clothing line, and (the best of all) spaces for his first David Goggins camp.

One things for sure, whoever gets invited to his camp will have a life changing experience at the hands of the former Navy SEAL.

So, whether you want to impress David and win some of his prizes, raise huge cash and awareness for your charity, or whether you want to embrace a new challenge, its certainly worth going all in on your 4x4x48 challenge.

After all, the challenge is a huge commitment so you’re better off playing to win than playing not to lose.

What are the benefits of completing the 4x4x48 challenge?

From my personal experience, I can attest that the benefits are:

  • Builds your mental toughness.
  • Gives you a massive sense of achievement.
  • Helps you raise money and awareness for charity.
  • Gives you the chance to escape your day-to-day routine.
  • Provides a decent amount of time to listen to audiobooks, music and podcasts.

My 4x4x48 Challenge Experience

Me during one of the runs of my 4x4x48 challenge.

In April 2019, I completed my own 4x4x48 run. I was featured in the local newspaper, raised over £500 for Parkinson’s UK, and inspired some of my friends to give it a try. You can read about my experience of the challenge in detail here.

It was one of the most incredible, difficult and insightful experiences that I’ve had in my entire life. I gained so much from it that, after David’s announcement of the second annual year of the challenge, I have decided to take it on again in 2021. Bring it on!

Having already completed challenge, I’ve learnt first-hand what the biggest challenges are and what things can be done to increase then chances of a successful 4x4x48 run. Below, I’ll share the top 9 tips that I’ll be following for my own effort.

So, without further ado, here are my top 9 tips for David Goggin’s Annual 4x4x48 challenge.

1. Play to win, don’t play not to lose.

‘I play to win, whether during practice or a real game.’Michael Jordan

There’s a huge difference between playing something to win and playing something not to lose.

A football team with a strategy to focus just on defending will never win, as they’re too focused on not conceding a goal to the other side. Being too risk-averse can paralyse you from taking action, going all in and smashing your 4x4x48 challenge.

Playing to win means you’ll be totally invested, will take risks, will have an abundance mindset, will do what it takes, and will be determined to succeed. Playing not to lose means playing it safe, being cautious, not being committed, having a scarcity mindset and being frightened of failure.

The 4x4x48 challenge is a massive undertaking and all those taking part will need to be fully committed to see it through. If you’re not fully committed, chances are that you’ll bail out when things start to get difficult (which they will, believe me).

The challenge is a risk, sure. You might not succeed, you will experience discomfort, you’ll be tired, you’ll be pushed to your limits. Of course, you will. But, by embracing these facts as early as possible and owning the pain, you’ll be more prepared when it happens. By playing to win, you will fully commit and increase your chances of success in the 4x4x48 challenge.

2. Have great in-ear-entertainment.

Listening to some favourite artists, great podcasts or engaging audiobooks can keep your mind engaged and positive during each run.

If you’re doing a solo effort, the challenge can get a bit lonely and it can be easy for your mind to wander into negative thoughts like how tired you are, how much your feet hurt, how cold it is etc.

The last thing you want is to focus on negative thoughts, so having some great in-ear entertainment in the form of artists, podcasts or audio books is extremely beneficial.

For more information about each, check out the following blog posts:

The Top 16 Audiobooks to Listen To Whilst Running

10 Awesome Rock Songs for Running

5 Reasons Why You Should Listen To Podcasts While Running

3. Eat and drink plenty.

If your first 4x4x48 challenge attempt is anything like my first, you will likely underestimate how many calories you burn and how much water you will lose through the challenge.

If you don’t plan and have enough quality nutrition available, you’ll get hungry and dehydrated during the later stages of the challenge which will wreak havoc on your mindset. I remember constantly wondering why my mouth was so dry upon waking to the alarm for the next run, and then realised that (like an idiot) I hadn’t been drinking enough. Don’t be like me.

Be sure to stock up on and consume plenty of healthy food throughout the challenge. Also, be sure to make hydration a priority.

I’d also recommend stocking up on energy gels and bars as these are a cheap, tasty and convenient way to get a quick hit of energy before, during and after runs.

4. Shower after every 2 runs as a minimum.

Due to the frequency of 4 miles runs, you’re naturally going to get sweaty and dirty quickly. I’d recommended showering at least every 2 runs for a sense of cleanliness and to promote good hygiene.

It’s not very nice for you (or those around you) if you haven’t showered after, say,  8 of the runs (32 miles) in a row. Not only are you going to ‘feel dirty’, but you’re also going to be demonstrating poor hygiene and will probably smell awful. I don’t know about you but, wherever possible, I try to smell good!

5. Have good people around you.

Something which helped me out massively during my first 4x4x48 challenge was support from friends and family, particularly my brother Jack.

After each run family members asked me how it went and how I was feeling (except the 2:00 AM runs, understandably!) and it was a good opportunity to voice thoughts and feelings during each stage of the challenge.

What’s more, my family (and friends on social media) were all cheering me on which helped me keep going during the difficult moments. A little encouragement can go a long way during this challenge, especially when you’re feeling the effects of sleep deprivation.

6. Systemize your running as much as possible.

Systemizing is all about making something easier. It’s all about removing resistance and obstacles in the way of accomplishing something.

The last thing you need (or want!) whilst taking this challenge on is to be facing petty and annoying obstacles that will cause a problem.

Imagine how frustrating it will be when you’re 8 runs in, feeling the effects of muscle wear and tear, and you realise you haven’t got enough food for your next meal and need to sacrifice some precious sleep for a trip out? What about if you have to spend 5 painful minutes after every few runs finding the next set of clothes that you’re going to wear? Don’t fall into these annoying preventable situations. Instead, systemize your running as much as possible.

Examples of how you can systemize your 4x4x48 running challenge include:

  • Create a meal plan and cook the meals in advance.
  • Go shopping for all the food, drink and snacks you will need before.
  • Get all your clothes needed for the challenge (including post shower clothes) laid out before starting.
  • Ensure your alarm clocks have batteries and set all alarms in advance.
  • Plan the route(s) in advance.

Essentially, you want to be taking all of the thinking and unnecessary problems out of the equation so you can focus on the important thing. The 4x4x48 challenge itself.

For more information on systemizing your running, check out the following blog post.

How To Systemize Your Running Routine

7. Stay safe.

The 4x4x48 challenge will require running in a range of different environments and conditions. Despite the name of this blog, I always say safety first and runners second.

Whilst you may be lucky to have nice conditions remain consistent throughout, you will certainly have to contend with the darkness for the late-night early morning runs.

You should be prepared for all eventualities of whether conditions and have a set of running gear suitable for all weathers from sun to rain to wind. Sure, you might live in an area that has pretty consistent whether but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Running at night means running in the darkness, which itself has a whole host of challenges. I’d highly recommend wearing reflective clothing, sporting a luminous LED armband and investing in a headtorch.

For more information check out the following post:

How To Stay Safe Running At Night

8. Market your fundraising as early and as hard as possible.

When it comes to fundraising for your charity of choice, be sure to both promote the fact that you’re taking part in the challenge as early as physically possible and be sure to go all in on fundraising. As the saying goes, go large or go home.

If you want to raise as much cash and awareness for your charity as possible, you have to double down on the marketing. Why do you think that companies spend so much money, time and effort on advertising? Because it works!

You don’t necessarily have to spend any money to generate huge publicity for your fundraising effort. When I did my first 4x4x48 challenge in April 2019, I called my local newspaper and, following an article promoting my efforts, I raised awareness for my charity and more money for free.

There are literally endless ways to market your 4x4x48 challenge fundraising effort. Host a quiz, share it on social media, hold competitions, host a cake sale at work, hold a content. You can be as creative as you want with the fundraising.

Not only is it good for raising awareness and cash for your charity, it’s also a good way to develop your skill set through communication, planning and marketing.

For more information on running related fundraising ideas, check out the following post:

5 Creative Fundraising Ideas For Runners

9. Complete the challenge with someone else.

One of the most challenging aspects I found whilst completing my 4x4x48 back in April 2019 was the solitude.

Sure, I liked the opportunity to spend lots of running time listening to books, podcasts and music. However, there were lonely points during some of the runs. Particularly during the night-time ones. If you take on the challenge with someone else or a few others, you won’t feel as on your own.

Another key benefit of completing the 4x4x48 with others is that you can motivate and support each other onwards through the difficult patches that will inevitably come. I was lucky during my solo 4x4x48 effort as I had family and friends asking how I was getting on, constantly cheering me onwards. Had I not had this support, it’s probable that my enthusiasm would have dropped towards the later stages.

What’s more, running with someone else or others is great for safety as it increases your visibility to others. Particularly in the dark.


Well, there you have it. My top 9 tips for having a successful participation in David Goggins Annual 4x4x48 Challenge. Best of luck and, as David would say, stay hard!


All photos from Pexels, David Goggins Wikipedia page and by Runners First.

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