Work hard with Murph

Two weeks ago, our blog was about how I program my workouts. Each day has different exercises and ends with a ten minute block of work that tests me mentally and physically. There is one workout in my weekly programming that always stays the same. It is a workout that kicks my butt every single time. The entire workout tests me to mentally push myself to the limit. It is my favorite workout. It is Murph.

Murph is a workout created by CrossFit., named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who died in Afghanistan in 2005. The workout begins with a one mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air squats. It concludes with another one mile run. All of this is done for time; that is, go as fast as you can. Here is the kicker; you do all this while wearing an extra 20 pounds. The extra 20 pounds is supposed to come in the form of a weighted vest. I filled a backpack (garage sales and thrift stores have lots) with 20 pounds of sand and strap that on with a bungee cord to hold it in place.

I happened upon Murph by listening to a podcast about the workout. Turns out that the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats are more tolerable if you break them up in sets rather than do all of them at one time. I have tried it a couple different ways and have been most successful by doing twenty rounds of 5 push-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. At one point I tried to do 10-20-30, but could not keep a good pace.

I have now been doing this weekly for almost two years. Early on I noticed big jumps in my times, but now am finding it challenging to increase by even seconds. I also notice that if I am not fully focused, my time slips. Having the stopwatch on during this workout is a great motivator to push myself hard enough so that every time I finish, I am doubled over in my alley catching my breath.

Murph has benefits beyond being a good mental and physical workout. Last year when I started running outside as part of my triathlon training, the runs don’t seem as daunting without 20 pounds on my back. It is also a great mental practice for the finish of the run leg of the triathlon. Each week, the final Murph mile is all I’ve got. I know that I can finish my races hard because I do it each week in Murph.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I love finishing a workout with nothing left in the tank. This workout crushes that tank each week. Originally I planned my rest day to follow the workout to give my body a chance to recover. After doing it for so long, my body is used to it enough that I don’t have to do that any more, but I still have to give my legs a break after climbing stairs. If you are looking to test yourself with something hard, this is the workout for you – speaking from experience.

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