Murph Plan: Prepare, Execute, Recover

Memorial Day is now just days away, and that means Murph!  Many of you reading have completed Murph before… one of you has been doing it for almost a full year now… and so you might not need all the RAH-RAH pump-up speech that you think is coming.  But what I’d actually like to do is remind us all what this is about, how to get physically and mentally ready for the experience, how to stay in the game once the clock starts, and a couple pointers on how to best recover afterwards.  Hint… a cold beer should be involved if you’re of age, preferably hoisted tall and clinked against others out in the glorious sun, but maybe not LOTS of beers.  More on that later.

The reason we do the “Murph” workout every Memorial Day is because Michael Murphy very honorably represents all of our fallen heroes that have died in service to the United States.  Lieutenant Murphy died while knowingly exposing himself to direct enemy gunfire so that he could find a radio signal to call for help and get his team out of a dire situation, one that would be fatal for himself and two teammates, but it eventually saved the life of “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell.  Because of his heroic and selfless actions, Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor – the highest military honor.
When we workout and remember Murph, we also remember all of the other brave soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen that have laid down their lives in less publicized battles but fought and died just as valiantly.
I wanted to also share this essay that was written by Andy Stumpf in 2018 in memory of one of his Navy SEAL teammates.  It’s a powerful reminder of what Memorial Day is really about.

How to get ready for Murph.  Jimmy and I were just talking about this and the plethora of “Murph Prep” programs out there.  Guess what – if you’ve been doing CrossFit consistently, you are ready!  We run, we do pull-ups, and push-ups, and squats.  We do long workouts, with high reps.  And we have been doing a lot of workouts, especially during Hero Month and on Saturdays in April and May, that are very “Murphy”.  And yet the workout still seems physically daunting because of the way it’s laid out.  But that’s the point!  It’s supposed to be hard, and it will be.  You are physically prepared now, there is nothing more that you can do other than to come into the gym on Monday feeling rested and ready.  You wouldn’t prepare for a big presentation at work by getting hammered on a boat in the sun the day before, so don’t do that here either.  You wouldn’t pre-game a big race by getting goaded into a monster workout the day before.  Have a nice, relaxing weekend – you deserve it.  But if this is important to you, be smart.
To prepare mentally, what we need is a plan.  Step one of the plan is to determine how you will attack the workout.  How fast are you going to run the miles in the beginning and the end?  How are you going to partition the pull-ups, push-ups and squats?  Hint: This workout should involve continuous movement, not a lot of standing around, so plan your partitions based on how many of your weakest movement you can do in one set.
Have a solid plan in mind, and then start to visualize success based on that plan.  Incorporate into that visualization when you might need to interject a dose of positivity and courage into your workout.  I can imagine myself cruising through the first 5 sets of 5 pull-ups/10 push-ups/15 squats, and then starting to mentally drift into thinking how many more sets I have to do.  I’ll plan to look at someone else close to me with a smile and say, “We’ve got this!” and I can see my pace picking back up as my positive attitude comes back online.  After that, with every round I check off on my whiteboard I’ll say, “Easy Day, Hooyah Murph,” and keep channeling those positive vibes.

When the clock stops and the high-fives and war stories commence, it’s easy to get right back into Memorial Day festivities, and we should absolutely make time for that.  However, with a long and intense workout like Murph, we should also discuss some positive steps we can take for recovery.

First, what to do:  HYDRATE!  We are lucky to have Noude Aesthetics joining us immediately after the workout to provide IV hydration and supplementation.  IV therapy is super-beneficial because the liquids bypass your GI tract and are absorbed 100% into your bloodstream.  They’ll have a few different combinations of vitamins and other supplements you can add to your treatment as well!
And then, what not to do… dehydrate.  Murph is notorious for producing symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo”, which is essentially a failure of your muscle cells to repair due to acute overtraining, and instead they release protein into your bloodstream, resulting in kidney damage.  Think, going “zero to hero” with way too many pull-ups in one session, to the point where you can’t pull any more but you’re still trying.  If I’m being very specific here it’s because I’ve been there, and it makes for a less-than-awesome week and potentially a hospital visit.  So when your coach gives you a scaling protocol for Murph that is within your physical capacity and not beyond, this is for your safety.  And, one thing that can drastically amplify the effects of rhabdo is dehydration.  Crushing your body with a hard workout and then continuing to stress it out with alcohol is not a smart move in general, so let’s be smart on both fronts:  train hard but safely, and stay on the positive side of hydration during your post-Murph festivities.

Can’t wait to get together and honor Michael Murphy and all of our fallen heroes with a great workout and some food and fellowship afterwards.  And can’t wait to be a part of Jimmy’s final Murph of his quest for 365 straight days!  Even if you’re not going to do the workout, I hope you can come celebrate with us.


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