A Guide To Surviving “Murph”

Memorial Day Challenge Champs and SISU Members Troy Osborne (2nd), Josh Sanderson (1st), and Tony Sarenpa 3rd, from left to right.

Whether you’re new or old to CrossFit, you may have heard of the Memorial Day tradition known in the CrossFit community as “Murph.”


In case you’re unfamiliar, Murph is a Hero WOD, a workout created by CrossFit Inc. to honor the men and women who’ve fallen in the line of duty. In this case, the Murph workout honors the life and service of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in action in 2005. Unfortunately, there are many Hero WODs honoring the lives of a number of fallen heroes.


The Murph workout, like most Hero WODs is especially challenging: A 1-mile run, followed by 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 unweighted squats, followed by another 1-mile run. And if that’s not enough, elite athletes will complete it while wearing a 20 lb vest.


Every Memorial Day, CrossFitters around the world complete Murph to honor not only Lt. Michael P. Murphy’s life, but the lives of those lost while serving our nation’s armed forces. CrossFit SISU is no exception.


The Memorial Day Challenge in Excelsior was born out of this tradition. In honor of our heroes, this year’s 4th Annual Memorial Day Challenge will benefit Minnesota Veterans through nonprofit organizations The Next Objective and the Minnesota Military Family Foundation.


But before you barrel into this workout, Murph demands a smart-strategy and level-headed approach.  Reigning Men’s Elite MDC Champ and CrossFit SISU member Josh Sanderson walks us through how to tackle this challenging workout.


  1. Don’t Sprint the First Mile

“Do not come out too hot on the run. Pick a friend or someone you’d like to stay with, but don’t push yourself too hard on the run. You want to come back to the rig and begin right away. Going fast on the 1st mile is detrimental if it causes you to take too many early breaks because you’re out of breath.”


  1. Breathe!

“This is a long, grueling workout. Take deep, breaths to help you stay calm and keep your heart rate down for as long as possible.”


  1. Break up the Workout

“The hardest part of the workout for me and a lot of other Crossfitters is the push-ups. Break these up into smaller sets earlier than you think. Don’t let your ego get in the way and try to go unbroken on everything.”


  1. Have a Goal

“Have a goal and share it with others. Whether the goal is simply to finish, beat a friend/rival in the gym, or finish under a specific time, having a goal is going to help you keep moving when you feel like quitting. And you will feel like quitting.”


  1. Have Fun

“It’s so important to keep a good attitude throughout the workout. Have fun. Embrace the suck and pain and actually be thankful that you are healthy and able enough to complete something like this. When it starts to hurt, think of the men and women in our military that have and still are sacrificing everything for us. If you’re able to remember this in the midst of the struggle, it will help you dig deeper than you thought you ever could.”


  1. Figure Out Your “Why?”

“Whether this is your first time competing, or your 5th, my biggest piece of advice is to figure out your “WHY” before the day of the event. Why have you signed up to compete in Murph? Is it to honor those in the Military that have fallen? Is it to complete something that you never thought you could? To prove something to yourself and family and friends? Take some time and really figure out why you have decided to complete this event.


And if possible, try to take the focus off of yourself. If you’re able to make this about those who’ve given everything to defend our country and are doing it in their honor, it will be such a better experience. My cousin died several years ago serving in Afghanistan and last year, I decided to make it all about him. When it started to get really tough, I thought about him. Before and after the event, I thought about him. If he was willing to make that sacrifice, then I knew I was able to push a little harder and suffer a little longer in his honor.”


Are YOU up for the challenge? Dedicate a bit of pain and sweat with us in honor of our nation’s heroes and get registered for the Memorial Day Challenge!  All athletic abilities welcome. Compete in Elite, Rx, Scaled, and Team divisions. Learn more and register at http://www.memorialdaychallenge.com