Conquering the 4x4x48 Challenge: My Journey and Eight Key Learnings

Last weekend, I took on a personal journey that tested my physical and mental limits: the 4x4x48 challenge, conceived by David Goggins, author of “Can’t Hurt Me.

The challenge pushed me beyond what I thought was possible. While demanding, the experience was profoundly enlightening and filled with invaluable lessons, both for improving as a runner and in my personal life.

Of all the crazy things and challenges I’ve tried over the years, like running 11 consecutive marathons, this is the challenge I would recommend the most, as it tests you in many different ways.

The 4x4x48 Challenge Explained

The 4x4x48 challenge is straightforward. 

You must complete a 4-mile run every 4 hours, for 48 hours straight. This schedule means running at all hours, dealing with fatigue, crazy fuelling ans nutrition, and managing recovery in short bursts. 

The challenge not only pushes your physical limits but also requires mental resilience and strategic planning.

Benefits of the Challenge

I’ve wanted to try the challenge for a few years, and being a long weekend here in Canada, I chose to do it because I believe that Engaging in the 4x4x48 challenge offers numerous benefits:

  • Physical Fitness: It significantly boosts your stamina and cardiovascular health. I just completed the biggest mileage week of my life.
  • Mental Toughness: Overcoming the urge to quit, especially at 4 am, strengthens your mental resilience.
  • Discipline: The structured nature of the challenge fosters a disciplined mindset.
  • Self-Discovery: It provides a deep understanding of your capabilities and limits.

Eight Key Learnings from the 4x4x48 Challenge

4x4x48 Challenge

You have a lot of time to think when running for 4 miles (6.5km) every four hours. And I took the time to write my biggest revelations after each run.

They will stay with me forever, and I’m sure I’ll remember them when things get tough in my next race and my life.

1. Something is Always Going to Hurt

Pain is an inevitable part of any demanding physical activity, whether it’s a marathon, a tough workout, or the 4x4x48 challenge. Muscle soreness, blisters, or fatigue will always be there. The key is to acknowledge the pain and keep moving forward. This lesson applies to life as well; discomfort is often a sign of growth. Embracing the pain rather than resisting it can lead to personal development and resilience.

2. Like the Ikigai Book: Be Busy with a Sense of Calm

The concept of Ikigai emphasizes finding joy in the process. Maintaining a sense of calm during the challenge helped me stay focused and grounded. It’s essential to approach tasks with a balanced mindset, finding serenity even in the most hectic situations.

3. Fueling vs. Nurturing: Understanding Food’s Role

During intense physical activities like the 4x4x48 challenge, or a marathon, the primary goal of food is to fuel the body. 

In these moments, it is essential to focus on getting the necessary carbohydrates and calories, regardless of the food’s quality. This might mean consuming quick, high-energy foods that aren’t necessarily the healthiest options. 

However, once the workout or race is over, the focus should shift to nurturing the body with nutritious, healthy foods to aid in recovery and overall well-being.

4. We Can Achieve Anything

Completing the 4x4x48 challenge reinforced the belief that we are capable of far more than we think. With determination, perseverance, and discipline, we can overcome everything. This realization can inspire us to pursue ambitious goals in all areas of life.

5. I Can Shower in 3.5 Minutes

Time management becomes crucial during the challenge. I learned to optimize every minute, including quick showers. This taught me that many of our daily routines can be improved, freeing time for more important activities, like spending time with my kids.

6. Approach Things Like Eating an Elephant: Little by Little

The saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” perfectly applies to the 4x4x48 challenge. 

Breaking down the 48 miles into one run at a time made it less daunting. This approach can be applied to any large project or goal, emphasizing the importance of incremental progress and not getting overwhelmed by big goals.

7. It’s Not About the Mileage: It’s About the Length of Time

The challenge isn’t just about covering 48 miles; it’s about surviving the 48 hours. This perspective shift highlights the importance of endurance and consistency over sheer distance or speed. It’s a valuable lesson in focusing on the journey rather than the destination.

8. Need a Support System

Having a support system is crucial. My family’s encouragement and assistance were invaluable throughout the challenge. Their support reminded me that achieving goals often requires a collective effort. 

Building and relying on a strong support network can make all the difference.


The 4x4x48 challenge was an intense yet rewarding experience. It tested my limits, taught me invaluable lessons, and reaffirmed my belief in the power of resilience and support. 

Whether you’re considering this challenge or pursuing another goal, remember that with determination, support, and a strategic approach, you can achieve anything.

Diego Alcubierre, a passionate runner and coach, started his journey at 26 with a 10k time of 1:06:23 and has since slashed 30 minutes off his personal record. With five running and coaching certifications, Diego is committed to sharing his expertise and proven strategies to help runners of all levels enhance their performance, stay motivated, and enjoy the journey of running. At Bannister, he simplifies complex training concepts, empowering you to achieve your running goals.