This past weekend I completed the 4x4x48 challenge. This challenge was created by David Goggins and originally consisted of running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 straight hours. He has revised the challenge to include more people by allowing the participant to do some fitness related exercise every four hours for the forty eight hours. Many people will do this and raise money for Charity as a part of their challenge, but I wanted to first see if I could do this for me. It has been a long time since I have challenged myself, and I was hoping this would help to reignite that inner fire and drive that has been slowly burning away deep inside.
If you have not heard of David Goggins, you should look him up. We will be having a review of his biography in a few months, but for now, you can learn a lot about him through his website David Goggins. He is a Navy Seal, Army Ranger, Airforce Tactical Air Controller, Ultra-marathoner, and just all around tough human. He has also held the world record for pull ups and participated in countless, marathons, triathlons and ultra triathlons. He is often called the “The Toughest Man Alive”. He does not hold back, and if you are sensitive to foul language, you may not want to listen to him, but he speaks his truth. (His biography can be purchased as normal version or clean version!)
I first learned about David Goggins years ago. I picked up a book “Living with a Seal: 31 days training with the Toughest man on the planet” by Jesse Itzler. It is part blog, part biography of Jesse, and part journal about when David came and lived with Jesse. Seeing how David (referred to as “Seal” in the book) was from the perspective of Jesse is both comical and inspiring. The things that David put Jesse through while still doing his own training sessions is just incredible, but the part that I found so fascinating is that David was always in protector mode. He always had Jesse, his wife and infant son at the top of his list and would not let anything bad happen to them. It helped to open my eyes as to what physical training should ultimately be about, and that is being there to help others!
“I don’t think about yesterday. I think about today and getting better.”-David Goggins from the book “Living with a Seal” by Jesse Itzler
For my version of this challenge, I wanted to do 40-minute workouts utilizing natural human movements. I also decided I wanted to end it with the final two workout sessions being ruck walks….I figured there is nothing more natural than a human walking and carrying a load on their back. We have been doing it since the dawn of time!
I wanted to do this to prove to myself that I could do it. I believe that the best way to build mental toughness is by doing something physically hard. I have challenged myself before with different Obstacle Course races (tough mudders and spartans), tough Crossfit workouts (Murph), and doing the 8 week Sealfit program, but this was going to be different. I was going to do Natural Human Movement and I was going to have sleep deprivation. I was very nervous before the first session, but I knew I had something to prove to myself. I also wanted to show anyone that watched me, that natural movement workouts can be as tough or tougher than traditional gym workouts.
The training sessions would be on the following schedule:
12 Training sessions in all.
I wanted to incorporate as much of a variety of movements that I could for this challenge. This would help both to keep it fun and also to avoid soreness from the repetitiveness of doing a single movement. Each training sessions was an AMRAP which is “As Many Rounds as Possible” in a 40 minute timer. So for example, a training session was:
15 second Foot Pinch Hold
16’ low balance walk
5 clean and press (with Stone)
25’ push pull crawl
2 split jump balance
6 jab straight hook hook
4 jumping pop ups
I did this whole “flow” over as many times as possible in a 40 minute period. Repeated each session. I tried to program the workouts with some “built in rest”. This would either be a balancing movement, a hanging movement, or walking movement (carrying something or dragging it of course). I did this because I did not want to stop moving the entire 40 minutes. I chose 40 minutes because I can run 4 miles in less than 40 minutes, so thought that would be a reasonable time period. I also wanted to record a round of each session in its entirety to post on Instagram. I always did this after my 40 minutes was up, just because I didn’t want to stop moving to move the camera and review the video.
How it Actually went:
First two training sessions went really well. Trying to fall asleep after the 3:00 am session (which after doing the session, filming a full round, editing the video, and setting up the gym for the next session got me to bed about 4:45) was tough. I fell asleep on the couch as to not wake up our entire family, but my phone fell between the couch cushions so I could not hear it vibrating. My wife woke me up at 7:36…not a good start to the 3rd session.
The next few sessions after that went good, and I was able to get a quick nap in between the 15:00-19:00 training session. My wife was at a friends house for dinner and my brother was in town with some friends, so it was just me and our 3 kids. I moved the 19:00 training session to 18:30 and moved it indoors so that the kids could eat and I could still be near them. Our youngest daughter even joined me on that training session so that was fun. After I finished that, we went and picked up my brother. We did have to hurry home so that I could get the kids to bed and cook him and I dinner before the next training session. I needed time to digest!
The Saturday 23:00 and Sunday 03:00 had to be the hardest sessions. Not so much physically hard, but the lack of sleep was catching up to me where I never felt like I was fully awake. The next two sessions went fine as well. We have a friend who asked for my wife’s help to paint her boys room while her husband was working as a surprise him, so I packed some equipment to take to their house. The time rolled around for Session 11. I had a backpack with a 20lb vest in it and four 5 pound plates. All in all it weighed 43 pounds. I decided I would do a ruck walk with the 40lb bag. Originally, I planned on just rucking 20 minutes, and then would turn around and ruck back 20 minutes, which would give me the 40 minutes of my previous training sessions….but something happened to me mentally, and I decided I was going to do a 4 mile ruck to really see what I could do. This session took just about an hour and twenty minutes. When I got back it was 15:20. My wife and her friend were going to order food for dinner so I asked what time would we be eating: 17:00 was the answer. I knew I wanted to finish this challenge before dark and also be around for bedtime, so I said I would go do another 4 mile 40 pound ruck and be back in time for dinner. I accomplished it and was back by 17:00, ready to eat!
There are countless lessons learned from this whole weekend, but I want to cover what I learned and what I would do differently in the future:
- Plan, plan, plan. I had all my workouts created prior so that I could set up the gym for the next session. I would plan it better next time so as to have less time moving and switching equipment.
- You can always do more than you think you can, you just have to do it. As David Goggins has said “When you think you’re done, you are only at 40%!”
- You can survive on less sleep. Maybe not for a long duration, but you would be surprised. No longer will I think I am too tired to train…..this weekend proved to me that being too tired early in the morning is not an excuse anymore
- You are tougher than you think you are if you can mentally get there. I wore xero barefoot shoes for the ruck with thin socks….bad choice in socks. I had blisters after the first ruck. On the 1st mile of the second ruck, the blisters popped (the size of half dollars on the front pads of both my feet) but you just keep going. Every step hurt, but you learn that your body will adapt and you will get through it. I am now 2 days from the challenge and the blisters are starting to heal and the swelling in my knee is going down. I am not saying I am tough by any means, but it showed me that I can be tougher than I thought I could be.
- I didn’t eat much at all during this challenge. A lot less than I thought I would, but if you get hungry after training, you may want to meal prep the whole weekend.
- Hydrate way before the challenge. I made sure I was drinking plenty of water up to the day of the challenge and forcing water down during it. I also incorporated extra salt and used a magnesium spray on the tops of my feet to prevent cramping.
- Do not plan on anything else that weekend. You should just dedicate yourself to the challenge.
- Have a support system. My wife backed me 1000% on this and helped to make sure it worked. I also for warned my brother before he came to visit just so that he was aware.
- I laid out my clothes for the weekend and showered frequently to prevent any chaffing. Every workout was a new pair of underwear, socks and shirt. The shorts were good for two workouts most the time.
- You do not have to post the videos on Instagram like I did. Your word is good enough. I spent a lot of time filming and editing videos when I could have been sleeping. I do not know why I decided to film each session, but I am glad I did because now I can always look back at it, but it was not a necessity.
For any “number nerds” I broke down a total below of common movement groups. I couldn’t use climbing because I performed reps/distance/ holds so it was difficult to calculate. Some other movements fell in this category but this is a general sum of the numbers completed in 48 hours (distances in feet unless noted:
Lifting (repetitions) 198
Jumps (repetitions) 112
Vaults (repetitions) 172
Striking (punching/kicking: repetititions) 369
Get ups (repetitions) 330
Carrying Heavy Items 46,320’ (8.77 miles)
Throws (repetitions) 150
“You can get through any workout because everything ends”-David Goggins from the book “Living with a Seal” by Jesse Itzler
Next Year and beyond:
I told my wife after this year I would not do this challenge again, but I am thinking I might. I believe we need to challenge ourselves as that is the only way to grow and try to reach your full potential. I may not do this exact challenge again, but I will be doing something. I enjoyed this challenge because it allowed me to practice the natural movement that I feel humans need to be doing, while still proving how challenging it can be. I feel like the Natural Movement community gets labeled as “earthy, granolaly, hippies” and we are told we should be more focused on traditional exercises. I do not find anything more “traditional” than moving in the way humans moved. Think what you want, but I guarantee our ancestors were much stronger, more aware, more agile, and all around better athletes than we will ever be and they never stepped foot in a gym and did “traditional” exercises! We can sure learn a lot from them!