NASCAR Drivers and CrossFit Enthusiasts Take on David Goggins Challenge

January 22, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Second 2 None Fitness (@ s2nfitness)
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The week of January 2, multiple NASCAR drivers took part in a grueling challenge. They normally do CrossFit and CrossFit-style workouts, but they took on the David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge. This tested their mental toughness as they tried to overcome the elements and balance the runs with their work and personal lives. 

Remind me: The David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge is straightforward – participants have to run four miles every four hours for 48 hours. An alternate version for those that don’t run often is to exercise for 45-60 minutes once per four-hour leg. 

  • Many people that participate use the 4x4x48 Challenge to raise money for a charity of their choice. This particular group did not have the opportunity due to how quickly everything came together, but they have the goal of doing future challenges with a focus on raising money. 

The group: There were several people involved in this challenge. Two-time Xfinity Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.–a noted CrossFit and NOBULL enthusiast–hosted the event at his Slide Job Ranch in North Carolina. His trainer, Second 2 None Fitness owner Ryan Von Rueden, joined him for all 48 hours.

  • The list of participants for the full challenge also included Craftsman Truck Series driver Lawless Alan and Nate Brown, a member of the Golf Guys Tour which features Stenhouse and other NASCAR drivers. 
  • “So, initially, I was like, ‘Hey, we should do four for four for 24 hours,’” Von Rueden said. “And everybody was like, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of cool.’ And I had known that the Goggins one was 48 hours but thought that might be a tough sell for a lot of people, including myself even.”
  • A week before the event, Stenhouse had a discussion with Von Rueden about the decision to do 4x4x24. The NASCAR driver suggested that they do the full Goggins challenge.

There were several others that could not complete the full challenge due to time constraints or work obligations. Instead, they did what they could while adding in extra miles when possible. 

  • This list included Xfinity Series driver Riley Herbst, Cup Series driver Harrison Burton, Cup Series driver Todd Gilliland, Brown’s father, and Truck Series driver Jack Wood. Von Rueden’s wife also completed the 4x4x24 challenge, but she did so at their home. Cole Custer, another Xfinity Series driver, could not participate. He had a wedding and needed to be able to walk down the aisle. 
  • Burton had a jam-packed schedule. He had a racing simulator session at 7 AM on Wednesday. He could not miss this, so he started the challenge at 11 AM on Tuesday and added extra miles to finish a full marathon with the 3 AM run. Burton then went home, showered, ate, and headed to the race shop to prepare for his sophomore season at NASCAR’s highest level. 

Von Rueden: “Lawless Alan, so he’s the one that literally landed in Charlotte, got stuck in–I don’t know if it was an accident or it was raining here in Charlotte. So you know, 77 stops when it rains here. So he’s stuck in traffic, was trying to make our 8 PM run, and couldn’t. So he pulled off and ran to his apartment complex and ran his 5.2 miles on a treadmill there.” 

“[He] then got back in his truck and drove the rest of the way up to the gym, and then joined us for the rest of it. But because he missed the first two runs, he ran every single run with us after that and then went home and did his last two runs on his own at the apartment complex. So he still got his two marathons in 48 hours as well.” 

The training: There are people that put in extensive miles to prepare for this grueling challenge. Von Rueden and the group of drivers didn’t exactly follow this method. Though they frequently add running into their workouts, whether they are adding extra miles to Murph or taking part in a 50-minute chipper workout with five 800-meter runs between several bodyweight movements. 

  • “I mean, we run a lot throughout the year,” Von Rueden said. “Just when it gets cold, it’s hard to talk some of these boys into going out there. Like a lot of them are born down here [in North Carolina]. I’m from Wisconsin. So, I can run in anything. … I mean, they’re comfortable running, they know how to run.”
  • These drivers are all comfortable running, but Von Rueden also put a major emphasis on safety. The NASCAR season starts in mid-February, so the drivers couldn’t risk any injuries. He told them to take their own pace or even walk certain segments if they needed. 

Another big focus was mental toughness, something Goggins emphasizes. In order to complete the challenge, they had to run outdoors in the rain in the middle of the night. They also had to follow the same path from Stenhouse’s bunkhouse to the gate and back more than 70 times. 

“I think that’s kind of what helped us get through all that. Because I think in smaller amounts, every time we walk in the gym, at some point in time – I would say four times out of five times out of the week – you hit a spot in the workout where it’s it’s no longer physical anymore. Like, it’s not going to be any harder than what it is. It’s just whether or not you are willing to continue to do it or not.”

This mental toughness is also a constant focus for Von Rueden and the NASCAR drivers he trains throughout the year. These athletes have to be able to spend three to four hours in a stock car while driving nearly 200 mph, and they have to contend with myriad obstacles. 

  • These drivers have to withstand physical issues such as temperatures ranging from 120-140 degrees and muscle cramps. They also have to be able to mentally rebound from mistakes on the track or on pit road, such as loose wheels or crashes. 
  • “Everybody has hard things, and they have to deal with it and they have to go through it. And they have two options to pick–I can keep going, or I can quit. I think that changes the trajectory of everybody’s life on a daily basis.”
  • “The small, tiny decisions that we make every day lead us down the path where we end up in 10 years, and you’re like, ‘Well, how did I get here?’ And you could probably look back at all these little tiny things.”

While there were moments where the drivers and participants had to buckle down and focus on pushing through, they also had to focus on two key physical factors–nutrition and sleep. 

  • The nutrition featured two approaches. There were Oatmeal Cream Pies and Swiss Rolls for when they just needed to get the muscle glycogen store built back up. They also had access to bananas, clementines, yogurt, protein bars, and healthier options for later.
  • Sleep and recovery were far more difficult to achieve. There were times when they just struggled to come down from that adrenaline rush. The participants in the challenge also had dinners with their significant others and other obligations. As a result, they were only able to get between one and two hours of sleep. 
  • “On day one, I still tried to run a normal gym schedule,” Von Rueden said. “So I had a 5 AM general pop class. I took a 20-minute nap and then worked from 5 until 7, ran, came back, worked from 8 to 11, and then ran again.” 
  • “On day two, I canceled the 5 AM, I was like, ‘I can’t, I gotta get a little bit more sleep than that.’ But day two, we definitely slept more.”

The bottom line: The decision to take on the 4x4x48 challenge tested Stenhouse, Von Rueden, Brown, and Alan. Those that could only take on the shorter version underwent a grueling test of their own. 

This was not a standard test of fitness for the group of athletes that traditionally takes on CrossFit-style workouts. However, they had the base and mental fortitude forged during long sessions with Von Rueden, and they used them to conquer a very difficult test.

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