STRONGER THAN YOU THINK: Why you should take on Memorial Day Murph

Athletes working through Memorial Day Murph in 2019


USN Lt. Michael P Murphy
Navy file photo of SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y. Murphy was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wing, June 28, 2005, while leading a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan. The team came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position.

Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters and was mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire. While being shot and shot at, Murphy provided his units location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to his wounds. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

US Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005. He died a hero, posthumously receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor in the United States military. He was only 29 when he was killed. 

When deployed, lieutenant Murphy was known for running a mile, completing 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 air squats, only to run another mile at the end. He called it “Body Armor,” appropriate since he chose to wear his vest while completing the grueling workout. 

After he was killed, the CrossFit community adopted his favorite workout as the Hero WOD “Murph” and it wasn’t long after that the Memorial Day Murph tradition was adopted across the country and around the world.

1 Mile Run

100 Pull Ups

200 Push Ups

300 Air Squats

1 Mile Run

Partition reps as needed

If you have a 20 pound vest or body armor, wear it


The most common way to complete your Memorial Day Murph is to run the mile, then complete 20 rounds of a CrossFit classic, “Cindy”: 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats. That immediately makes this more achievable right there. But it is certainly still going to be a long one. 

Most athletes underestimate their ability to get through this. If an athlete has been consistently attending our classes, they normally find themselves making their way through this. 

But in a case where an athlete is not yet ready for the whole thing, there are a few common modifications: 

  • Pull Ups to Jumping Pull Ups to Ring Rows 
  • Push Ups to Snaking Push Ups to Knee Push Ups 
  • 1/2 REPS: Full Runs, 1/2 Reps
  • 1/2 MURPH: 1/2 Runs & 1/2 Reps
  • AMRAP: Full Runs and Time Limited Reps (2nd Run at 45 Minutes regardless)

The AMRAP version is my favorite because it allows athletes to surprise themselves without having to fear they are going to be stuck working on this forever. Very often athletes find themselves in the last few rounds at 45 minutes and choose to finish up. Those are the best stories. 

As with any workout we program at Black Wolf, the most important thing is that you feel the intended stimulus and in the case of “Murph” and Hero WODs in general, the intended feeling is a moment during the workout where you really don’t feel like going on, but you choose to continue, however slow that might be. 

Overcoming self doubt while remembering those who made the choice to sacrifice themselves for a cause greater than themselves is ultimately the purpose of this event. 

Burning a ton of calories and sculpting your legs, chest and upper back all while working hard alongside other amazing humans experiencing the same feelings as you are just fun byproducts. 


My number one reason that you should jump in this Memorial Day is because you don’t think you can do it and I really want you to see that you absolutely can. So if you are up for a challenge and exceeding your own expectations would be a little confidence booster to you, I would love for you to come be if you are able. 

And my number 2 reason is for you to choose to do something uncomfortable this Memorial Day Weekend. And, quickly, that is not to say you are living some life of comfort. Unfortunately, weathering the storms life throws at us is a bit different than choosing to experience discomfort when we could easily choose not to. 

Knowing you are capable of choosing the hard path when an easy path is almost always available is incredibly empowering and creating the evidence that you are the type of person capable of making that choice will keep you moving forward regardless of what life continues to throw at you. 

“Murph” is in honor of a specific man who made a choice to sacrifice himself in the hope his men would be saved (and one was: Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor was a member of this ill fated unit). And Memorial Day is one day each year where all of us can take a moment, or an hour, to remember all of the countless lives that were lost in service to this country. 


Eat. Your body needs calories to recover and repair so you come back stronger. But don’t forget, seemingly super long workouts will still be canceled out by eating like an asshole. 

Hydrate. Murph, especially in Houston, depletes our electrolytes quickly. Water and electrolytes need to be replaced. Ill be grinding up salt in my water before and after Murph. There are also effective products out there like LMNT or Pedialyte. Newer products like Electrolit are less effective for me though I have recently begun adding salt to it as well and it does seem to bring me back more quickly now. 

Move. Muscles get stiff when they are not used. Think about sitting all day and how your knees, hips, back feel when you stand up for the first time. Go for a walk. Sit and stand (aka Squat) a few times at a few different points in their day. Walk some more. 

Sleep. Everything you want your body to do (lose fat, build muscle, tone) happens while you sleep. If you are not sleeping adequately then you will not see the full results you deserve from the work you’ve actually done. We must sleep well and try to do it consistently. 

Here’s a slightly more in depth explanation of how to deal with soreness


Athletes take on "Murph" on Memorial Day 2022
The 10am class in 2022 making their way through the 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 air squats of “Murph”

We are taking on Murph at 7am, 8:30am, and 10am this Memorial Day, May 29th, 2023 and I would love for you to join us if you’re interested. I would love to set you up to succeed regardless of your experience or confidence level. 

And if you are able to jump in somewhere else then go have fun! Listen to your body. Push a bit farther than you want but still be smart about what your body can do. Ideally you have a great coach looking out for you and communicating with you about what the right challenge is. If you don’t have this then consider finding somewhere else. 

If you have any questions please send them my way. I would love to chat. [email protected]