Martin follow up blog

Martin's 4x4x48 Challenge Review

Hogarth Personal Trainer, Martin Jennings completed the 4x4x48 Running Challenge over the weekend of 5th March 2021. Read on to find out how he got on, or head over to our Instagram to watch on our Highlights!

"Let’s face it, running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours is not for the faint hearted, and when I asked those following my progress on Instagram if they would be tempted to try their own 4x4x48 challenge, the response, bar a few hardy souls, was a resounding no!

martin jennings 4x4x48 challenge

So, let me take this opportunity to explain more about the challenge, why anyone might consider doing it and how perhaps, based on my experience of completing it, setting challenges outside our comfort zones can inspire us to achieve more.

The 4x4x48 challenge is the brainchild of endurance athlete and ex US Navy Seal David Goggins. In his autobiographical book Can’t Hurt Me, Goggins details many of the physical and mental hardships he has overcome in his life and the unique and dark mindset he has cultivated that has enabled him to achieve more mentally and physically than most other people on the planet.

Perhaps then the 4x4x48 can be understood better as a challenge to transcend the physical and take one closer to the superhuman realm of intensity embodied by Goggins. 4x4x48 is designed to be a hardship, taking the challenger out of their comfort zone, disrupting their routine, and depriving them of sleep and rest as they strive towards completing almost 2 full marathon distances in less than 2 days.

With an Ironman on the horizon later in 2021 I decided this would be a good opportunity to not only test my legs but also my mindset and whether I could rise to the relentless running challenge that would ultimately take me beyond any distance I had completed in that timeframe before.

In the words of Chinese Philosopher Lao‐Tzu, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. In my experience, Lao‐Tzu’s words have guided me well. I have ran a few marathons over the years, and while training gives me a confidence in my ability to complete them, there is still a lot that can happen between the start line and the finish line 26 miles later, so why focus on anything else but that first step.

I broke the challenge down to it's 12 constituent 4 mile runs and listed the start time for each. I knew that if I ran each leg at approximately 9 ‐10 km/h I would be running at a sustainable intensity that would keep me below my lactate threshold, (that hurty bit where lactate starts to accumulate in the blood faster than it can be removed through respiration), giving me the best opportunity to recover between each run.

martin late night chiswick run for challenge

With that in mind, at 4pm on Friday 5th March I took the first step of my first 4‐mile run. By my third run I had developed an excruciatingly painful blister on the arch of my left foot that in turn affected my stride and caused my right hip to unduly stiffen. During my fourth and fifth runs my calves became increasingly sore. I felt spaced out and dizzy running at 8am and by Sunday my knees hurt so much before I even began running that I could barely walk down the stairs from my first floor flat. Remember that thing I said about a lot happening between the start and finish line? It would have been pointless to anticipate what would hurt and when, it was inevitable that there would be painful obstacles to overcome throughout the weekend.

Taking the first step of each run set me up for success, embodying a Goggins‐eqsue mentality to embrace the discomfort, ‘enjoy’ the pain, own the decision to be accountable and not quit enabled me to carry on. 48 hours later I had run 48 miles.

Hogarth club personal trainer Martin completes the 4x4x48 running challenge in west london chiswick

It is easy to make excuses to not attempt something that seems beyond us, and it’s even easier to quit when things start to hurt, or we stop making progress. We can only achieve more by cultivating a mental resolve to get us through those difficult or painful moments and we can only face these moments when we take that step out of our comfort zone. The more we achieve the more experience we have to draw on when faced with the next challenge in our lives and perhaps from this perspective the 4x4x48 doesn’t seem so crazy at all.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the club over the Spring and feel free to swing by the gym desk if you need a friendly push in taking that first step.