Crossfit is Libertarian yoga. It’s a workout. It’s a cult. It has its own traditions. One of those is something called a Hero Workout. They’re named after fallen soldiers and first responders. They’re always grueling.
Many Crossfit gyms in America do a workout called “Murph” on Memorial Day. It’s named in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. For more of his life story, read this article from BoxLife Magazine.
This is the workout:
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.
It was designed by Lt. Murph himself. The reason why you’re supposed to wear the vest or the armor is because that’s the way he used to do it. It’s a completely different experience with the added weight. Your hands tear on the bar. The squats go from tedious to terrible. You fail at small sets of pushups. The last mile is crushing because the vest keeps slamming into your chest and your legs are toast from the squats.
If you’re wearing the 20lb vest, a time to shoot for completing the workout is under 60 minutes. I completed it in 53 minutes and 28 seconds. The last time I did this workout was about ten years ago and it took me about an hour and a half. I definitely feel pretty good to be 37 and able to pull off a decent time.
My accomplishment isn’t really much in the grand scheme. UFC fighter and current active duty Army Ranger Tim Kennedy finished it today wearing his full combat kit in 44 minutes flat. In the 2015 Crossfit Games Icelandic athlete Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson finished in a ridiculous time of 38:36.
The importance of this workout isn’t the toughness of it, it’s the meaning behind it. Almost no one who does this workout ever met the man. Probably no one I know even knows someone he was friends with. He’s an idea. He’s a symbol of what we lose when we send our brothers and sisters to war. Some wars make more sense than others, but the cost of all is high.
As I was doing this workout I tried to keep Lieutenant Michael Murphy in my mind. I thought about his family. I don’t know anything about them, but I know they must miss him. I wondered what they might think of what we did today. As difficult as it is to do this challenge, it is absolutely insignificant in comparison to the pain they must feel to not have him sit with them for dinner or go to a movie.
I must be getting old and soft because on the second mile I thought about him bleeding out in some fucked up desert and it made me tear up. Moments later I passed another member of the gym who was also wearing a vest, we fist bumped. I sped up and finished the last 800m as hard as I could because that’s what I imagine Murph would’ve done.