Memorial Day is for family, friends, and honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Beach days, bar-b-ques, and car dealership sales can take away from the true meaning, but if you are a CrossFitter, at least one thing is certain to bring you back to the day’s true meaning; Memorial Day Murph.
As tradition, the vast majority of CrossFit boxes around the world will complete Murph tomorrow, pushing our bodies through the grueling task of a 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another 1 mile run. I remember the first time I completed Murph, pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible, with Lt. Michael Murphy in mind. And it’s a pretty great feeling to be able to revisit that both physically and emotionally each Memorial Day.
1 mile Run
1 mile Run
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you've got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
Over the years, what exactly is RX in Murph has been a heated debate. One of the most popular ways to complete Murph is al la Cindy, with 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats for 20 rounds. Some will bump that up to 10-20-30 for 10 rounds. The CrossFit Games even did 5 rounds of 20-40-60 once. But, to truly complete RX, does the athlete need to go 100-200-300 straight through?
By definition, it says “partition as need,” so does that mean breaking it up by choice is RX? Do you have to wear a vest to make it RX also? This debate is an active thread on many CrossFit forums and comment sections. Personally, this answer has been up for debate in my head for years as well. It wasn’t until speaking with one of our Aspire Coaches, Victor, that he brought up the two greatest arguments of what is exactly RX that I’ve ever heard. First he asked if we want the most badass gym around, our RX needs to be 100-200-300 and if you have a vest you must wear it. Then, after I still had some slight skepticism, he asked me, “how would Murph do it? That’s RX.”
So there it was - RX is 100-200-300 and if you have a vest you must wear it.
This gives the opportunity to RX an incredible challenge and monstrous feat. At our gym, only some will do it. Many will strive for years to go RX. Some will never go RX. And that’s okay.
To Scale or Not to Scale
Often, our goal in metabolic conditioning WODs is to complete the workout as quickly as possible, pushing ourselves equally cardiovascularly and through the challenge of the movements - perfect movements with as little rest as possible. If “Murph” popped up as a Saturday WOD at the box, my goals for our athletes at the gym would be the above.
Memorial Day Murph however is another story. Once again, Memorial Day is about honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The primary goal of metabolic conditioning isn’t Memorial Day Murph’s goal. Rather it is about honoring, pushing yourself to new extremes, and completing a task bigger than yourself. The Navy Seals believe that we only work at 40% of our physical capacity. The other 60% is ours for the taking, we just have to unleash it. Memorial Day Murph is about digging deep mentally and physically, much greater than any weekday or Saturday WOD at the box.
If you have the physical capacity to complete 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats without ending up with rhabdo in the emergency room, you should be completing Murph RX. If you don’t have that just yet, going RX is a goal that with accountability to your fitness, will be completed in the years to come.
Additionally, if you have a vest and can physically complete the reps with a vest on, you should.
Time doesn’t matter in this one. Murph is bigger than that.
Self-help, motivational, and personal developing books, classes, and seminars are everywhere these days. Just about anyone who wants to stand in front of a crowd or say something inspirational on a podcast can do it. But who are these people and do they really know their shit? Some might be successful in your definition of success – be it business, athleticism, or creating a family. This person might even be nailing every one of your personal core values – a potentially solid choice to use your time reading, listening, or following. Others are phonys, only successful in sounding like they know something, but in their personal lives, businesses, or family endeavors are losers. You need to take an in-depth look at who you are seeking knowledge and inspiration from and vet them. If you are seeking a business mentor with multiple bankruptcies, a health coach that is overweight or doesn’t know how to deadlift, or a “life coach” with two divorces, you are modeling your behaviors after the wrong individual. You need to make sure these people are really getting after it and not only living the life that they are preaching, but will assist you in becoming the person you seek to develop into.
Next up – too many people are chronically trying to learn how to improve their life. Reading self-improvement books, for example, can be a great way to improve yourself. But, they don’t mean shit if you aren’t putting things into action and getting after the principles the book suggests. Reading book after book, listening to every podcast you can, and attending local events with self-help superstars are a waste of time if you aren’t implementing the messages. Put the book down and start taking action. Reread your favorite book or re-listen to that podcast that made you motivated for a couple days. Begin implementing ALL of the strategies suggested. Don’t skip one because you think it won’t work for you. Buy into the whole picture. If it doesn’t work in the long run, drop it and figure out what works better. Don’t just sit, listen, and “learn,” take action and make it happen for yourself.
This is not battering individuals that seek different methods to improve their lives. I love that people are trying to better themselves. At some point however you need to ask yourself, “Are you really trying to improve yourself, or are you chronically learning how people can improve themselves?” You need to dive deeper into who you are taking this information from – finding out if they really are the person you want to become more like. Then, pick one individual/theory/message you’d like to model and implement it. Don’t get caught up in any he said, she said, they did bullshit. Start trying things out and see what’s taking you on the best path to your definition of success using your core values.
Learning doesn’t mean anything without putting it to use.
Want to run faster? Check out these tips below to blow your PRs out of the water.
You can’t run fast if you feel like crap all the time. Emphasizing sleep, mobility, and listening to your body are vital to helping you become a faster runner. In terms of sleep at night – aim for 6+ hours of GOOD sleep. That’s not just lying in the bed – that’s cold, knocked out, sleep. Mobility should be performed at least 15 minutes a day with yoga, strengthening, foam rolling, and lacrosse ball work all in the daily arsenal. Finally, listen to your body. If it feels like it might need a day off – take it. However, make sure you body is telling you that and not your mind.
Click here for my favorite calf mobility exercise.
Don’t just show up, perform. Going on a 3 mile run isn’t enough to get faster at a 5k. You need to push it! Unless it’s a recovery run prescribed by your coach, you need to be making the most of every session. If you aren’t pushing yourself past your current threshold, your level of performance is going to plateau and you’ll need to accept your current abilities as a runner. If you want to get better, you need to push past those boundaries.
Training intervals is one of the best ways to get faster. The easiest way to do this are timed intervals because you don’t need a track or any special equipment. Set a timer for an “on” and “off” interval. During the “on” interval, you are going to run as quickly as possible for the duration. During the “off” interval, run or walk as slow as you please. Be prepared to repeat and run as quickly as possible as soon as the “on” interval begins. One of my favorite intervals is 3 minutes “on” and 2 minutes “off” for the duration of my run.
Without knowing where you want to go, how will you ever get there? Set goals of exactly where you want to be with your running. Make them lofty and specific. If you want to run a half marathon in less than two hours, don’t make the goal 1:59, make it 1:50. If you don’t hit that exact goal, no problem, you will reanalyze, see what you could have done better, and try again. Striving for a 1:50 and running 1:57 isn’t a failure. Sure you didn’t hit the 1:50 you set out for, but you smashed your original goal and now have the ability to hit the drawing board and see how you can achieve that 1:50. Don’t get too hung up in the exact result – it’s more about the experience, drive it took to get there, and where you will take yourself from there.
If you didn’t know how to swim, you wouldn’t just jump into a pool after I told you to swim a mile and start up. It would take massive amounts of time to learn how to swim properly to complete the task. Running is the same. You need to learn how to run correctly, efficiently, and safely.
Check out these running drills to help instill proper technique into your runs.
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.