Names, Values, and My First Murph

Someone asked me last Saturday “who names these workouts?” I think this is as good a day as any to answer that.

April 3rd was our Invasion at Jamaica Pond. The workout Eric chose was “Murph”. It’s a long one – I was nervous and excited. What I didn’t talk about much that day was just how important that workout was to me personally: my first Hero WOD.

I don’t do Hero workouts. At least, I hadn’t done them before last weekend. When I was following the mainsite (working out at home) I’d either pass them up and design a different workout, or I’d do a scaled down version and not use the Hero name for the WOD.

They meant too much to me to do it any other way. Back on 9/17/2009, I wrote the following on my Facebook blog:

“Workouts in CrossFit aren’t all that complicated… they are generally just what they sound like: “Move heavy stuff, fast.” Do that to the point of exhaustion and completion, and you’ll see results quickly.

Some of the workouts have names. The “Girls” are all benchmarks. They are notably difficult workouts that are common to most CrossFitters and can be used by each of us to gauge our progress. Seeing your Annie or Fran or Helen time get faster over the months is a way to ensure that you are, in fact, gaining in Fitness and improving your power output across broad time and modal domains with your training. After all, I’m not training to improve my “Barbara” time, I’m training to not suck at life… and as a result of getting stronger and faster, my Barbara time will (in theory) decrease in proportion to my overall physical capability.

I’ve done some of the girls. They’re hard. As usual, I keep the time and score only so I can measure against it next time… not to measure myself against other CrossFitters.

Every time you see a workout with a male name, though, it’s a Hero workout. Hero workouts are named after Law Enforcement or Military personnel who have perished in the line of duty. I have yet to do a Hero workout because I have been unable to do one without scaling down the weight. I have never claimed to do one when I’ve scaled, because the workout is in memory of a person who gave his life in defense of my rights. To me that deserves the honor and effort of completing the WOD as specified, as RX’d… or of training hard in some OTHER way, so that someday I *can* do the WOD with full honor.

That’s the way I feel about it. Everyone else’s way is fine, too – it’s just not my way.”

This is why I coach the way that I do. This is why I praise the full range of motion above a fast time. This is why I celebrate hard effort over ego. This is why I take pride in every person who completes every rep in a workout rather than cutting a few to “keep up” or “not finish last”.

Sure, I’m telling you to get to full extension and to get your knees below parallel because it is the safest and most effective way to do each exercise. And, I’m also telling you because you can’t see your range of motion and it helps to have someone call you out on a missed rep. After all, each rep and each workout is a choice – a chance to determine who we are today – and I am glad to be surrounded by people who choose to honor themselves with their honest maximum effort.

In a Hero WOD, I am reminded that with each rep I honor not only myself but the memory of someone else, too.

Last weekend, I did “Murph” as RX’d, including the 100 pullups without assistance. So did Wellemeyer and Sandon. I still have a hard time believing it on some level, because it’s been such a long road from where I started… and I feel great about it. I know it’s not the end of the road – it’s just another step on the way. Some of you are ahead of me, some of you might be able to see what I’ve done and know it’s possible for you, too.

But above and beyond those accomplishments, past the pride of what I’ve done, was the humbling awareness of why I was doing it… and why we even know about a guy named Murph.

I thank all of you (past and present) in our Armed Forces for your service. I’m sorry so many incredible Americans have to serve in gawdawful places for us, and I’m glad that we can do a little bit to help by raising money for Operation Phoenix and the Wounded Warrior Project.

We’ve gotten lots of requests for Fenway shirts from servicemen and women overseas, and I’m more than proud to think that they’ve got a piece of home from us, over there. Y’all are welcome to stop by here when you get back in town.

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

7 thoughts on “Names, Values, and My First Murph”

  1. As always JT, a thoughful and rousing note. Im so thankful to have met you and all the other inspiring people at CFF. I look foward to doing the next Murph with you.

  2. If any of you are interested in reading more about LT Michael Murphy, I HIGHLY recommend reading “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. The book focuses on the operation that LT Murphy and his fellow Navy SEALs were conducting before they lost their lives in the line of duty. It is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. Reading about what these guys went through makes any WOD seem like nothing.

    1. I third it.

      I also own it and am more than willing to lend it out if someone wants to read it. I think I left it in Philly though, so I won’t have my paperback copy until next month. Yes, I said paperback copy because the hardcover copy has been ordered 🙂

  3. I hope that this doesn’t come off as disrespectful, but I have to be perfectly honest. Even as the daughter of a retired Rear Admiral, who served for 31 years and served in Vietnam, hero workouts make me a little uncomfortable. I’m not keen on anything that puts “heros” = men (and yes it’s all men) and out of all of them, only 1 happens to be is a man of color.

  4. Pingback: Ryan | CrossFit Fenway

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