This isn’t really a race recap, cause this isn’t really a race. Here are 10 things you need to know for the Goggins Challenge.
Just for the sake of doing something hard.
Hard stuff on purpose
I got the idea for this after re-releasing a podcast episode about doing Murph, a popular CrossFit Hero workout, every Monday from Memorial Day through veterans Day 2019.
Hard stuff on purpose is good because it builds grit. If it tests your physical fitness alongside, that’s not bad either.
What is the Goggins Challenge?
The “Goggins Challenge”, made popular by Ultra marathoner and all around incredible athlete David Goggins (side note: I could do without his potty mouth) is 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.
I liked the idea of something I could complete on my own, away from the pressure of any crowds or other competitors. I could do this one for me.
Rather than taking you through all 12 four mile segments, I’d like to share some considerations or ways to approach the 4 x 4 x 48 Goggins Challenge in hopes you’ll join me next time in the Fall:
1. Plan your schedule in advance
The Goggins challenge requires 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. Since it’s an independent event, you can begin whenever you want. Here’s what my schedule looked like:
I was ready for two sleep deprived days (see also: triplets) but also scheduled them at a time my Mom would have the kids. Look, I love my kids but they would have thrown me off schedule. Hindsight is 20/20, but I think I had more energy overall since they were with Grandma.
2. Do normal stuff
Having completed a number of ultramarathons, to include a 100 miler, I knew the mental toughness required for something like this.
You have to break stuff like this down into manageable pieces, even from a mental perspective.
My effort ended up being on a couple of weekdays, which proved to be a good thing. I worked my normal job, which is remote and allows for flexibility, during this effort.
That meant my mind was occupied with something other than the Goggins Challenge outside of the running efforts, which I recommend.
You’ll drive yourself bananas if you block 2 days and think about nothing but the next run when you’re supposed to be recovering.
3: Physical preparation
It’s 48 miles. This is completely anecdotal, but I believe if you can comfortably run 15 miles you are in the shape to handle that kind of volume over the course of 2 days.
I don’t think there’s a line in the sand here on how fast you need to be. If you’re faster, you’ll get more recovery.
If you’re slower, you’ll get less.
I ran all of my efforts because I was working and wanted to maximize my recovery time. You could approach covering 4 miles in multiple ways, though:
- run/walk ratios (8:2, 9:1)
- walk 1 mile, run 3
- walk 2 miles, run 2
- run everything
I don’t think walking everything is a splendid idea because you’ll never get to shower, recover, or eat sitting down.
It’s simple math- decide how long your 4 mile segment will take you. The rest is recovery.
4. Be conservative
As long as you’re doing some simple math, make sure you’ve got a conservative pace.
You have to do this 12 times. Those latter miles are on tired legs and a sleep deprived mind.
I aimed for :60 less than my marathon race pace from the start- so, 9 minutes per mile as opposed to my normal 8.
5. Eat the right stuff
You have to eat the types and amounts of foods that are going to agree with almost constant activity for 2 days.
If you’ve ever run an ultramarathon, you know as a general rule you want to stay away from foods high in protein or fat (there’s obviously an exception here if you are a fat adapted athlete).
So, contrary to the way you probably eat- high protein, leafy greens, satiating volume heavy foods- you need to think about quick burning carbohydrates and things that will digest easily and/or aid digestion. Here are a few that worked for me:
- rice crackers
- sweet potatoes
- baby food
- calorie free carbonated beverages (aids digestion)
- ginger chews (also helps your tummy- if it weren’t a bajillion degrees, ginger tea would have been great also)
6. But not too much
Remember not to eat large portions, though.
One of my meals was fish tacos, sweet potato fries, and ice cream.
I ate normal amounts, as if it were my regular dinner.
That didn’t fare well for me during the next run, because of course– by the time I was done, I only had 2 hours until my next 4 mile run.
You don’t need to eat in between every run. When you do, make it about 75% of what your normal
7. Use smart supplements
Look, I love a good highly caffeinated run as much as the next girl…but once you get past your first couple of runs, that isn’t really going to cut it if you want to rest at night for “naps” in between efforts.
The HumanN SuperBeets were an intentional choice, as they are a powder preworkout formula without all of the caffeine in my normal preworkout (which has like 300mg per serving. Don’t judge me- I’m raising triplets!).
I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I needed to avoid digestion issues.
HumanN is a new to me brand, but they sent me some SuperBeets and Memory & Focus chews to try about month ago, and I really like them.
Bonus: you can grab these at GNC or subscribe at a discount on their website (not an affiliate link, just a convenience).
When I tell you I didn’t experience any soreness or pain with this effort, you may not believe me but I think months of regular use with both of those products was an unexpected payoff here.
8. Sleep when possible
This is going to seem obvious, but I know there are people out there who grind through 2 days with no rest.
If you’re reading this and have any other responsibilities in life- showing up as a good spouse, Mom, friend, or employee- I’m telling you that you need to sleep.
After my final effort at midnight on day two, I slept for almost 9 hours after! I needed it.
9. Be as public about it as you choose
Clearly, I’m writing a blog about this now so I think the Goggins challenge is an experience to be shared.
That said, on the days of the actual challenge I found it helpful to not tell people I was doing it.
Sure, I had a few people in my inner circle. And Strava caught on about five 4 mile runs into it…but Instagram? Facebook? Nope.
I didn’t need the added pressure and the entire purpose of doing hard things for the sake of building grit is to do them for yourself.
Some people love the accountability of a social check in and, if that’s you- do you, boo.
My point here is it can be your choice.
10. Learn something
There are no medals, accolades, or online results with the Goggins challenge. You don’t get a t-shirt. 90% of the population will have no idea what you’re talking about when you say you did it.
That’s sort of the point.
It’s a great opportunity to learn something about yourself.
This was an exercise in mental toughness and I’m proud to say I was able to keep my cool the entire time by compartmentalizing each mile and run. My effort also taught me the following specific lessons:
- break down large efforts into manageable pieces
- overthinking is energy depleting- dissociate!
- the ability to recover well is part of the performance equation
Thank you, partners!
Check out the partners that support the time and financial resources needed to publish Run Lift Mom each wek: