cross training, Strength

Upper-Body Challenge: My First Memorial Day Murph

I nearly called this my “first competitive workout,” but that would have been inaccurate since there were no awards and no one was keeping official times for any participants. That made it more enjoyable, I think, and about as type B as an event like this could possibly be.

For the unfamiliar, the Crossfit workout known as the “Murph” was the favorite workout of Lt. Michael J. Murphy, one of the Navy SEALs who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 during the failed Operation Redwing. (If this story doesn’t ring a bell, watch Lone Survivor or read the book.) One of the ways in which his memory lives on is that some Crossfit boxes around the country host annual Memorial Day Murphs, where people basically just show up and do the workout in honor of the fallen service member.

Having been intrigued by the idea for a couple of years, I Googled “Memorial Day Murph Columbia SC” a little over a week ago to see where any might be taking place. As luck would have it, the local Lululemon shop just a few miles from my house was hosting one, apparently in partnership with a local Crossfit, and providing space in front of the store for the pull-up bars, push-ups and squats. I registered online, thought about not showing up on account of the inclement weather being brought to us by Tropical Storm Alberto, and then went anyway, figuring that as much as I don’t like getting rained on, if I passed it up, I’d have to wait another year.

Liquid refreshment on display at the start

The Murph is not what I would describe as a total body workout, but it’s a great one, to say the least, for addressing any upper-body strength deficiencies. I finished my Murph nearly two hours ago as I type this, and my arms are just now feeling back to normal (and I strength train!).


So what’s a Murph, you ask?

The quick-and-dirty is this:

one-mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 squats

one mile run

I brushed up last night and found that there is a purist way to do it (basically, the above, in exactly that order, no partitioning the reps, with a weight vest for all of it) and all sorts of modifications for those of us who don’t do Crossfit and have never been through Navy SEAL training.

I did ALL the modifications: assisted pull-ups, partitioned reps (something like the “Candy” except that round 5 was partitioned even further), all but the first 50 push-ups on my knees, and no weight vest for any of it because I don’t own one.

For some reason, I had expected the Murph to take longer even with all the modifications, but the first mile at the beginning was an easy two laps around the shopping center where the Lululemon is located, with only a light drizzle from the outer edges of Tropical Storm Alberto. I was able to blow through most of the assisted pull-ups and the body-weight squats pretty quickly. Really, only the push-ups, of which I’m pretty sure I’ve never done more than 50 or 60 in a day, knees or toes, slowed me down. Alberto edged a little closer about halfway through, so I looked for an overhang under which to finish the push-ups and squats, and then the last mile was in the pouring rain with an inch or two of standing water in the parking lot/loading-dock area behind the shopping center (there’s a Publix there too).

My totally unofficial Strava time: 49 minutes!


Afterwards, I went for a happy four-mile shakeout along the Lakeshore-Spring Lake-Trenholm loop across the street, and when I got back, the event was winding down.

So…I finally got around to completing a physical challenge that I’d been meaning to do for a while. What’s in store next?

Maybe working up to being able to do the pull-ups unassisted? I figure that an added benefit there would be getting to complete all the obstacles at a Spartan race with no burpees…

How was your Memorial Day? Did you run a race or complete a fun challenge? (Beer pong counts!) Let me know in the comments!



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