Why I’m Using the “Murph” WOD for 30 Days

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murph wod

Being the son of a United States special forces veteran means a great deal, however the implications go far beyond the social media memes and tag lines. Among other aspects, it meant:

1) Learning how to be proud and terrified simultaneously

2) Understanding that nuance matters, such as me untying his boots after deployment implied he was finally home.

3) Knowing my role in the family, because if Dad was deployed, I was the man of the house and had to step up…even at 6 years old.

4) Sleeping well at night, because even though I was afraid of my father being hurt, I felt even more pity for the monsters he faced.

5) Understanding that strength, courage, and endurance comes in many forms, including my mother who held us all together when Dad was home and abroad.

6) Understanding the dichotomy of hating war, but loving a warrior.

7) Being the biggest, baddest mother fucker in the land doesn’t always mean carrying the largest weapon, but a cool tongue and a sharp mind.

Why the “Murph” WOD?

I’m not a Crossfitter (is that a word?), but I can certainly respect the associated tradition of executing this exercise because it is named for the late Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Lt. Murphy’s family established a scholarship fundraiser in honor of his service which is funded by registrants who participate in the Murph Challenge each year on Memorial Day. You can find out more about this great cause HERE.

The “Murph” WOD is a true test of strength and endurance, and goes as follows:

1 mile run
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
1 mile run

…in a 20lbs. vest.

hands raise


Be still my heart…

The Plan

As an OCR athlete, I thrive on running and body weight exercises, so the “Murph” is truly a perfect storm of OCR fitness. In addition, I also enjoy looking beyond the training; asking myself the “why” of each movement and how it will benefit me on race day.

Performing the “Murph” then becomes a splendid opportunity to both honor my father and his special operations brethren, and a great practical training regimen for my own battles on the course. Therefore I’m not doing the WOD only for Memorial Day…

But for the next 30 days.

I will modify as follows:

1 mile ruck/carry with 20lbs vest and 2 X 20lbs dumbells (15% tredmill incline)
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
1 mile run (for speed)

This modification remains faithful to the WOD, however incorporates the requisite grip/carry training needed in OCR preparation.

Truth is, I’ll never understand the rigors and dangers of military service, and performing the Murph for 30 days is a blurred vantage at best into the inherent struggles, but it’s never about understanding those who toe the line of oblivion for us. It’s about having their backs–in any way possible–so that when they face the entrance to the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they can do so shields in front knowing that the friends, family, and nation they fight for remains a solid foundation they can rely upon, no matter what.

SSGT Bowen, Army Ranger, 82nd AirBorne

SSGT Bowen, Army Ranger, 82nd AirBorne

So Dad, these next 30 days aren’t just for you, they are for the comrades you fought with: the family who cared for you away from home. They are for the brothers and sisters who fought at your side in places we’ll never know and for reasons we may not understand. They are for your friends who never returned in body, but have remained with you in spirit and memory all these years.

I don’t know these people. I don’t understand what it means to be an Army Ranger, but I do understand that we all have a role to play and that everyone’s contribution–big or small–is worthy when given with their all.


  1. What vest do you use and could you provide a short review of the best weighted vest to use for the Murph Challenge so I can be ready for next year?

    • Andrew Bowen says:

      Hey John! I use a 20lbs vest that I purchased from Wal-Mart. Nothing fancy, however if you want something you can run in, I’d recommend a vest that fits a little more snug to prevent sloshing of the vest.

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