*As this was a Goggins event I thought I would use his suggestion in his book ‘Cant Hurt Me’ and file my challenge review as an AAR, After Action Review.
4x4x48 – After Action Report
Establish the Intent:
The 4x4x48 is a training tool that David Goggins (DG) has been using for however many years – I don’t know. I first heard about it while listening to Jessie Itzler’s book ‘Living with a Seal” as DG puts Jessie through it in the book.
Its a simple format: Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. If you can’t run you do your chosen alternative activity for 45/60 mins instead.
It became an event that people took part in last year but because of work etc I didn’t even consider it. I first talked about doing it this year with my very good friend Chris James in January – as I knew he’d be up for it and probably already mentally signed up. I then sat down to discuss it with Carl, my husband, at the beginning of Feb (as he would have to take over dog walking duties etc, plus it would just be generally disruptive to his weekend) and once it was clear he was on board I was committed.
Up until the start of Lockdown 1 (23/03/21) my running was pretty ok. I was training for my IronMan and had been running a marathon or Ultra a month since September. I’m not a fast runner but I’m pretty good at staying the course and I’m a stubborn bitch so I will get the distance done. However, as soon as Lockdown hit I stopped running as I wore myself out doing so many online classes trying to keep my fitness business going. That has levelled out as this Covid situation has progressed but I hadn’t run more than 22 miles in any one month, with a couple months registering a big fat zero!
My intent for the event was simple… Align with David Goggins (he started at 8pm Friday, which meant 4am Saturday here) despite it being a pig time wise and finish It. And finish it injury free, with minimum recovery required. I had no pacing goals. Speed, Cadence, Pace etc were not my concern. The aim is to run each lap as a zone 2 run to minimise stress.
Outline the Performance
I met my goal and completed every one of the 12 runs. I stuck to the timing schedule and completed the event as prescribed. Run times ranged from 44min18 to 52min56. I achieved the goal of maintaining a zone 2 HR as much as possible. There were instances of walking to either get out of zone 3, or just because I needed to walk. Again, pace was not part of my game plan so this was not an issue.
Report on the Learning
Positives/ What went well
- I met the objective. I completed the challenge and am injury free. Recovery is looking good so far, 16 hours post event finish.
- I ran every lap on my own, testing my true mental grit. I wanted to see what happens when its just me. No eyes on me, no one to cajole me alone, no one to cheer me on. I realised that all the things I say in relation to mindset, grit etc are really true. I don’t just talk the talk, I do actually walk the walk.I am proud of myself for this.
- While I ran every lap on my own I did have the best pit crew at home. Carl made it so that I didn’t have to think about anything other than running and what to do during the down time. He had coffee, tea, baths waiting as required and made everything that little bit easier.
- Forming a team with my 3 fellow badasses was a great idea. We quickly became Team NBR, No Bling Required – which sums up our ethos quite well. We were not together physically but supported each other via our WhatsApp group. The pre run check ins and check outs reminded me I was part of something bigger than just my efforts. Although it was a solo mission, we were still there for each other as all good team people are.
- Changing up the route where possible (i.e. during daylight hours) helped break the monotony. (It still got boring though)
- Finding two different 1 mile loops that started at my house made me feel safer during night ops, but also gave me at least a little bit of choice.
- Kit choices were smart. I have done enough other events to know how to dress for running in all weathers I am fully aware that you need to stay warm and that, once you get cold, it is too late. In the cold icy nights, layers are your friend. I also had the right clothing for running in the dead of night plus a second head torch and spare batteries.
- Creating an event schedule that tracked the run times, plus essential warm up timings, hydration requirements and carb/protein intakes ensured I didn’t miss anything key, meaning I enhanced my goal of finishing injury free and minimising my recovery time.
- Forming an UK event facebook group (Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge UK (Unofficial) https://www.facebook.com/groups/230741878545765 with Chris, which grew quicker than either of us expected, gave us a sense of community and allowed us to connect with other people who actually get shit done, rather than just talk about it. These are the people I want to know and hopefully even learn from.
- Deciding to add a fundraising element, as a team, meant that we got to put something good out in to the world. No member of the team usually does any of the events we do (Obstacle Courses, Marathons/Ultras, Triathlons, Sportive’s etc) We do them purely to test ourselves, or just to have fun with our friends in the mud. We are always asked “oh, why are you doing that? Is it for charity?” so we decided to add that element to this challenge. Not because we needed it, but just because we figured that, even if we raise only a few £££, that has to be a good thing. We all know people that have been effected by this past year so chose Mind, the Mental Health Charity as our benefactor.
Negatives/What went wrong
- The week of the event was planned as a Taper week but I got taken down ill on the Monday with a fever and spent the next 3 days in bed unable to work or really even move. I went for a Covid test Wednesday morning but luckily that came back negative. It was left as a down to the wire decision as to whether I would participate or not.
- Lack of run training. Having decided for sure a month before the event that I would definitely take part, I ramped up my run training. I broke every rule in the book about how to increase volume etc and my lack of talent as an endurance athlete showed itself after the first 24 hours. Luckily talent was not required as I had the mental grit to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Coming from a CrossFit background helped the lack of run training not become an issue as my general fitness carried me through.
- Felt nauseous on both 8pm runs. I have examined my food diary and the break between the 4pm and 8pm run is when I ate most solid food. It is clear I have not yet built up the endurance athletes ability to consume food… and I def should not have had that extra pizza slice on the Saturday!
- Finding a way to make the 3 hours pass in between runs, once you have stretched, foam rolled etc gets tough, especially the 9pm to midnight gap!
- Inability to sleep. A lot of people in the group were talking about getting their heads down in between runs, and some saying the key to success was sleep gaps. I managed a grand total of 4 and a half hours sleep from 3am Saturday to 1:30am Monday. This isn’t a massive downer for me as I am able to function on little sleep, if and when required – as long as this isn’t too often. This is because I abide by the main rules all year round – get 8 hours sleep, hydrate like its your job and fuel your body for what you want it to do. Getting these basics right massively improves your chances of success, in all situations.
Provide a Future Outlook
If participating in this event again next year the only real thing I will do differently is ensure that my running is on point way in advance of the event. Now that I have completed it relatively stress free I would take it to the next level, increase the difficulty and the obvious way to do this would be to push the pace and set myself specific targets for each run.
I enjoyed the event the way I did it, for me the challenge was definitely more physical than mental. At no point did I question whether to get moving, ready for the next run… I did have a small negative moment after the penultimate run (8pm) as midnight seemed so far away and I just wanted to go out and get it over with. Having to hang out and wait for 3 hours began to annoy me, a lot!
Knowing that I can mentally handle it the way I did it I would push the envelope and see if I can hold on to that if I make it tougher. I saw the DG changed it up although I only saw his 11th leg, where ehe did 45 minutes of Jumping Jacks… maybe this is an idea to play with. There are many options, IF, I decide to do it again.
Hopefully, if I do do it again, these crazies will be right there with me… maybe even in person if the world sorts itself out.