Hard stuff on purpose
I don’t always avoid tough workouts.
I did Murph, a popular CrossFit Hero workout honoring the ultimate sacrifice of Lt Michael Murphy, every Monday from Memorial Day through veterans Day 2019.
That’s a 1 mile run + 100 pull ups/200 push ups/300 squats + another 1 mile run 24 times.
It was actually a impulse decision. After completing Murph with no vest (I used a weighted vest the year prior and near destroyed myself!) I thought, “I was way too afraid of this workout. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary. Why is it taking me a complete year to revisit?”
It was a matter of CONFIDENCE.
How do you kill something? Starve it. How do you grow something? Feed it.
From there, I decided I would do Murph every Monday during the month of May.
I want to take a moment to recognize this workout is intended to honor a real man who made the ultimate sacrifice in 200. What we now know as Murph was Lt Michael Murphys favorite workout, he called it “Body Armor” and also used a weighted vest, and supposed to be tough.
I’ve been doing Murph annually every Memorial Day since 2010 and the idea is, when you get tired and want to quit, you think about Lt Murphy’s sacrifice.
As the story goes, as part of the effort in operation enduring freedom and his deployment in Afghanistan he left his cover position while his team was under enemy attack. Lt Murphy put himself into open fire to radio for help & save the entire group
I was conscious from the beginning to be respectful of the purpose behind this set of movements. I thought about Lt a Murphy and prayed for his wife, family (names) each time.
After May, summer rolled around. I wasn’t training for a specific marathon and wanted a tough key workout each week- minimum effective dose style– that could transfer to my endurance efforts.
It doesn’t get any better than sprinting, pull ups, push ups, and squats.
So I kept going. Every Monday in June. Every Monday in July. By the time I was training formally for a late summer marathon, I built in Murph Mondays as a key effort.
Each week, I’d learn something different. Tactical lessons like 10/20/30 distribution is faster for me than the almost universally agreed upon 20 rounds of Cindy (5/10/15).
Why is this? For those fitness nerds out there, I believe that if you’ve got a pretty decent amount of upper body strength, you waste time during transitions from movement to movement.
Other variations with longer rep schemes strung together didn’t fare well for me in the push-up section.
My recommendation is to know your strengths and weaknesses and choose a movement pattern that will complement them.
In terms of mental toughness, it didn’t get any better than doing this frequently!
Remember the thing about confidence – if you feed it, it will grow.
I found that after about 10 times in a row of doing this work out, I was a little less afraid of it. Then, after about 15, I wasn’t so afraid of it. In a really weird way I sort of looked forward to it.
Is part of this because I was getting better at the movement patterns? Of course! I’ve seen this transfer into other areas of my life enough, though that I know the same thing was happening here in terms of consistency building confidence.
The more you do it, the more confident you get. It doesn’t become any easier – you just get more comfortable!
How do you apply this?
So, here’s my recommendation: choose a tough workout.
You obviously have time restrictions (so I’m not necessarily telling you to get your eye on that 15 mile run!), but think back to workouts you’ve done in the last 2 years and choose one that sort of gives you butterflies to even think about. Legit, it makes you sick to your stomach.
Now, do that work out repeatedly. Maybe it’s once a week like I did. Maybe you do it daily for 10 days. I want you to do it enough so that you aren’t afraid of the really tough work out anymore.
This is an exercise in mental toughness that will also help you physically!
About the Author
Suzy Goodwin is a former Guinness World Record holder, Mom to 4 under age 6 including triplets, and Host of the Run Lift Mom podcast. She gets up at 4:30 am daily to train for marathons and let her kids destroy the house as she took time to write this article.