How to Conquer The Challenge of The "Hardest Man In The World"

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David Goggins is often labeled as the “hardest man in the world" for his notorious history of doing badass workouts.

At the age of 24, Goggins was 300 pounds, working an unsatisfying job, and like a lot of people in their early 20s, was struggling to find his identity. After deciding that he wanted a change, Goggins went on a life-changing journey to transform himself, a transformation speared by intense physical training.

He lost over 100 pounds, became a Navy SEAL, and an ultramarathon runner. He is a man who has embraced the lifestyle of punishing oneself with daily physical and mental pain every single day.

David Goggins

The 4-by-4-by 48 running challenge mirrors that sentiment—the ultimate test of enduring physical and mental suffering. It involves running four miles every four hours for forty-eight hours.

The universal challenge has occurred once a year since its birth—starting on the first Friday of March at 8 pm Pacific Time, ending two days later at the same time.

Hard gera
David Goggins

This year, leading up to the 2nd annual David Goggins challenge, Goggins created merchandise for the event and added incentives for participants, including signed books, one-on-one video chats, and invitations to his boot camp.

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David Goggins
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I was crazy enough to complete the challenge in 2020, but I walked the last 16 miles. This year, I had the insanity to do it again, but with proper training, recovery, and the experience of last year, I was able to crush it and run the entire thing.

If you want to run it, be prepared to experience the ultimate running hell. If you get through the whole thing in any way that you can—walking, biking, etc.—you’ll still feel pretty damn good about yourself. 

So how to do it? Let me take you through a step-by-step guide on how to survive the 4x4x48 challenge.

Prep Your Mind and Body

Like my old man said.

"If you're going to do something, you might as well put your whole ass into it.” 

That’s the case with something like this. You don’t want to walk into hell, not ready for its tribulations. The best we can do is practice healthy and active habits for weeks in advance, not just days. This means going to the gym, joining a running club, and doing daily stretching. It also means sharpening your willpower, meditating, and getting ingrained with a schedule because the challenge itself pins you to a brutal 48-hour schedule that you must follow. Doing these things will pay dividends and make running 10x easier.

Have the Proper Apparel

Phew, you smell that? Don't worry, you will.

If you plan on showering and putting on clean clothes after every interval in this challenge, you’ll need 12 outfits for the 12 rounds of activity.

Be sure to wear bright colors on late-at-night / early morning runs as it’d be quite unfortunate if a car did you in on your last lap.

Additionally, I highly recommend Brooks brand running shoes, a FlipBelt, and a BlueTooth beanie so you can listen to music and stay warm with the same device.

Real beanie
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Use a Running App

The Nike Run Club app allows you to track your runs and document the whole experience. Plus, with NRC, you can use their guided run feature, which can give you professional advice from a coach on your journey.

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Eat, stretch, and sleep in between runs

Ah yes. An excuse to eat like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 

You’ve earned the right to splurge at least a little, so make the most of it by doing it with the right foods. Foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats should suffice. Greek Yogurt with granola and fruit was my go-to splurge. I had a fat bowl of it this morning too.

Greek Yogurt 1
granola 1

Finally, set your alarm and get some rest when you can. I know, it's a pain to get up from your nice comfy bed, but oversleeping an interval is that crappy feeling you really don’t want.

Lastly, stretching before and after each of your runs might dictate whether you're able to complete each interval or not. Doing these stretches was the biggest reason I was able to run the whole challenge in 2021 as opposed to falling short in 2020.

  • Forward leg kicks (10 each leg)
  • Side leg swings (10 each leg)
  • Butt Kickers (50-100 yards down and back)
  • Bodyweight squat into a calf stretch (10 for each)
  • "The World's Greatest Stretch" ( 10 each side)

That’s all you’ll really need to survive the David Goggins 4x48 challenge. Hopefully, this breakdown will give you the confidence that you need to take this thing head on!!

Good luck, and in the words of David Goggins, stay hard!

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