I wanted to do the 4x4x48 last year but fell prey to injury so I have been looking forward to this for a year! I decided that I would add the extra challenge of 1 minute of push-ups at the end of each run with a view to completing 300 in 48 hours.
I decided to raise money for a charity called Become who work with children in care and young care leavers. Last year I raised funds for MSF who are a large and internationally focused charity so this year I wanted to do something for a charity based in the UK. I used to work for a small mental health charity so I know how important cash flow and fundraising is – especially now. I have also worked with children in need and their families in a professional capacity since 2008. Alongside all of this I consider myself and my brother to be very lucky not to have ended up in the care system at one point in our young lives. I love the work of Become and I really do believe it is so important for children in care to see themselves just like anybody else, with the opportunities afforded to them to grow and succeed in life – there is no better way for this to happen than through using the experiences, support and resilience of those who have gone before them.
I opted to start the 4x4x48 at 0400hrs GMT on Friday 5th March as it fit nicely with the challenge and I only have the option for limited time off work at the moment. I had no real plan for the runs themselves other than to get them done in a way I could maximise recovery between each. I set up a sleeping area at home, downstairs next to the kitchen and bathroom to minimise any unnecessary movement up and downstairs for 48 hours. I also had a box of easy to prepare food next the sleeping bag, along with snack food. I made sure I ate little and often and it seemed to pay off. I struggled during runs #2 and #3 because I hadn’t found my sleep/recovery rhythm but once I did I felt great right up until the final 2 runs which were hard going – nausea on #12 made it very uncomfortable and sleep deprivation on #13 meant I had no power to give. But you don’t stop until it’s done and so I just carried on through the suffering!
This year marks my 10th year as a runner and this is definitely the most unique endurance challenge I have done in those 10 years. I absolutely loved it, but as you’d expect at times I also absolutely hated it!
As with all new experiences in the world of endurance I started the event searching for something that once found will always remain. No matter how fleeting that moment is you are always able to remember it. Sometimes you can draw strength from these experiences, and sometimes they bring the memory of pain. Always they provide lessons about yourself and what you’re capable of. I am able to look back and to remember the things I took from this one, those lessons – both good and bad – and it’s great to sit here and know that I faced my demons in the dark hours and that I kept on keeping on and pushing hard when I felt able to do so.
Facing the tough times is all about accepting what’s presented to you at any given moment and working with it to gain the advantage so that the outcome is never in doubt. I have done this in my life many times, I have done this in races many times and usually it works – not always – nothing is ever guaranteed in life. It might be painful or difficult at the time, but more often than not it works. During the tough times of the Challenge I kept reminding myself that I chose to do it and that I was doing it for a good cause. If any children in care or young care leavers were somehow seeing what I was doing, I wouldn’t want them to see me give up when it got difficult – I wanted to show them that you should always try to push on through the difficulties, it’s how you build resilience. The charity are there for care experienced young people to help, advise and guide, and to strengthen resolve and build resilience and I felt like I could do the same in some small way.
Finally, I didn’t deny the difficulties. I didn’t hide in my comfort zone and I pushed as hard as I could with every run and every set of push-ups. I acknowledged that the challenge would keep on giving right until the final push-up and I acknowledged and accepted that old maxim that the easy day is always yesterday! Throughout I managed to cherish the moments of brightness and the parts of it that provide that inner peace that so often arise during endurance events and throughout I wholeheartedly embraced the suffering when it came and took the learning from it with each stride.
If you are searching for something different, a different way to challenge your current limits, then I would recommend giving this a go. It was just as much about planning and preparation as it was about physical endurance and mental strength.