What I Learnt from Running 48 Miles
So this has taken me a few weeks to get to writing, because as soon as I completed the run, I was right back at work, and well, there have been no shortage of things to do recently!
At the start of April 2023 I embarked on the 4x4x48 challenge that was created by David Goggins, an ex-navy seal, ultra runner, and author of 2 exceptional books. The event is an ultra, but with a twist.
You have to run 4 miles, every 4 hours for 48 hours, which doesn’t just push you physically but also mentally for a number of reasons that I will explore. I started on Saturday (1st April) at 6am, and ran every 4 hours from that point until Monday (3rd April) morning at 2am.
What did it teach me, and what parallels to running a business could I draw from it?
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
An old saying but one that I love as it rings so true with everything I have experienced in work and life generally. This event brought that reminder home, as there were so many unknowns about it.
There isn’t a set course, a set time, or anyone there to greet you or guide you on how to do it. So, I got to researching. I looked at training styles, strength exercises, and running techniques to reduce stress on the body. I got sports massages, and worked with an osteopath to find ways to minimise my knee pain issues.
Reduce the unknowns
I trained for the running for sure, but also tested out the recovery part to make it as efficient as possible. Most importantly, I tested out the night runs (10pm, 2am, 6am) to see how they felt. Anything I didn’t like the idea of, I did. It meant that when it came to the main event, I had reduced the unknowns.
I knew how bad I would feel at 1:45am when the alarm went off, how much time I needed to get ready, how long it would take to warm myself up, and whether it was a good idea to eat before the run or after.
Recovery is key
This event was different. It was of course a fitness challenge, but… it was also a technical challenge. I loved the science element and how I could do the best with the recovery process. Inflammation was one of the main challenges to overcome for the event, so I looked at all the ways in which I could reduce it.
My wife, Isabel, did a great job with the nutrition to support the run – it was amazing. Plant-based, awesome food filled with all the nutrients to help reduce inflammation and aid recovery was exactly what I needed.
After each run, I stretched for a minimum of 10 minutes, really focusing on the legs and any pain points that were starting to flare up (of which there were many, and almost always different on each run!).
After my stretching, I did a 2-3 minute ice bath (just my legs) to cool the muscles and joints, getting more blood flow into the area.
I let my legs warm naturally and then slipped on some compression trousers to again help reduce inflammation.
For the next couple of hours (normally 2.5 hours) I tried to minimise my movement and just rest.
Finally, as part of the “recovery” process, I did a 10-minute, pre-run muscle activation to wake myself up and get my body ready for the next 4 miles.
A problem shared is a problem halved
It was a solo event, in that there was no route or external organisation, which I liked the idea of. I was happy to run the whole thing solo, but at the same time, I was also happy if people wanted to join. It was amazing to have so many people join for 1, 2, or more stints. It was great as it added variety to the whole thing.
Ben, a friend of mine, ran the whole thing solo in another part of the country at similar times, which is mega impressive. I was lucky enough to have friends, family, and work friends join and help motivate me.
What was important though was that I set the rules. I wouldn’t have been able to wait for people running a slower pace, and I wouldn’t be able to help motivate other people, so I had to be laser-focused on what I was doing and set the boundaries to make it work.
The human body is capable of amazing things
The world is full of so many stories of people who have managed to overcome adversity and accomplish incredible things. Maybe it is easy to fall into our personal “comfort zones” and think that only other people are capable of amazing things, and it takes really exceptional people to be able to do them.
While everyone’s personal limits and circumstances are different, (and maybe a navy-seal running challenge is not quite everyone’s cup of tea!), little habits over time can add up to fantastic outcomes. We can do the really “hard” things, whether it’s running 48 miles, or breaking down whatever mental or physical barrier we may be up against in our lives.
Challenge is key
I like the idea of events that I genuinely think I may not be able to do. I realised that during the weekend when I was trying to work out why I liked this event. I needed something that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
I am not that excited by trying to get a certain time in an event; I am more excited when I have a genuine chance of failure. I think that for me is a true representation of life and the challenge we face each day.
Overall the challenge was amazing, and I loved/hated it. The challenge was big enough that it scared me and forced me out of my comfort zone.
It made me want to raise my game in my preparations and forced me to keep the focus on the details as that was where it was really won or lost. It isn’t based on time, it is based on “make it happen”. Getting around in a way that makes it most enjoyable.