Memorial Day Murph

One mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 squats

One mile run

Complete while wearing a 20-pound weight vest, in as little time as possible

We’re now just one day away from one of my favorite holidays of the year. While most people associate Memorial Day with cook-outs, pool parties, and beach days, the thing I look forward to most is the workout above, named “Murph” in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. “Murph” Murphy.

If you’ve seen the movie Lone Survivor or read the book by the same name (I haven’t), you’re already familiar with Lt. Murphy and his story of heroics. Or maybe you remember hearing his name in the news back in 2005 when he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Or maybe you’re like me, a year ago – completely new to this workout and this man’s story.

His acts of courage and valor are well documented on the internet, so I don’t feel the need to recount them here. I doubt I could do his story justice. Suffice it to say that the man gave it all for his country, and died in order to save his team.

When you read the workout, you might be like me and think – hm, that doesn’t sound so bad. Then, Memorial Day arrives and you start the workout. At the 15 minute mark you’re only 1/10th of the way through the rounds of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats, and you think – wow, I’m never going to finish. At the 30 minute mark, you can start to see the finish line, but your legs are burning, your shoulders are like jello. Eventually, eventually, slower than you even thought possible, you finish the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats. The last push-up took all of your strength. But now. Now you run another mile. You’re not even sure you can walk any more, but you head to the door and on to the sidewalk. You take a right, following the designated 1-mile course, and start to jog, slowly, painfully, legs moving awkwardly because your body has no idea why it still has to be moving, after all those squats.

And somewhere along the way, during the 1+ hour workout, after your 50th pull-up, or your 227th squat, or maybe after the first 1/2 mile of the first run, you realize – this man, Lt. Murphy, did this workout. All the time. In a 20-pound weight vest. In the dessert. And that wasn’t even his biggest accomplishment.

He didn’t do this workout to look better in a bikini. He didn’t do this workout because a bunch of his friends were doing it, and there was a cook-out after it. He didn’t do it on his day off and then limp home to recover poolside with a few cocktails. He did this workout to survive.

And there are thousands of men and women, all over the world, away from home, away from family, away from almost anything familiar, doing similar workouts, in similarly horrible conditions, so they can survive the demands of combat. To protect this country. To protect me. And if you’re anything like me, and a good workout gets you a little emotional, you have tears streaming down your face as you finish that last mile. Tears of pride, tears of gratitude, tears of sadness, for all the Murphs who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom.

Tomorrow, all over the country, gyms, Crossfit “boxes” (a weird Crossfit term for gym), and community centers will host the Memorial Day Murph challenge. Thousands of people will participate, and (hopefully) thousands of dollars will be raised for scholarship funds, PTSD research, and other veteran’s programs.

“Murph” is a long, grueling, painful workout, but it is do-able and infinitely scalable (I do ring rows rather than pull-ups and use a box for push-ups). Most people forgo the 20-pound weight vest, myself included. Other scaling options include half-Murph, and no-run-Murph. It’s not about doing the workout as written, it’s about gaining perspective and completing the workout, in any form, with a grateful heart.

You certainly don’t have to do this workout, or any workout, in order to properly observe the holiday. But all too often, we, myself included, seem to treat Memorial Day as a holiday dedicated to shopping and grilling, without giving pause. Tomorrow, let’s all take a moment to remember, to reflect, and to be grateful. If you can, please consider donating to the Veteran’s charity of your choice (the Wounded Warrior Project is ours).

And then go out and enjoy that pool party 😉

(Click for source)

4 thoughts on “Memorial Day Murph

    1. Erin E. Post author

      To say that I “can do” this workout is a gross overstatement, I think. I modify it significantly, and slog through it slowly. My mother blessed me with good strong thighs, which I never properly appreciated in high school, but definitely helps with the squats!

  1. Trent Lewin

    Holy crow. I have never heard of this workout, but I approximately know Murph’s story. I think I will go back to my wine now and not pretend I can exert myself like that…

    1. Erin E. Post author

      Trust me, there is a lot of wine involved after this workout! And napping. And general lazing around on the couch bemoaning the sissy state of my body.


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