“A Guide to Surviving ‘Murph'” by Paul Nobles

“A Guide to Surviving ‘Murph'” by Paul Nobles

I know that “Murph” is a special WOD to a lot of people and I’m no different.  “Murph” was my first WOD.  I remember doing it with a green band and coming in last, the whole time thinking “These people barely know me, I should just bolt.” (I am the guy in the very middle)

75% of the people in this picture still work out with me to this day and this was 5 years ago.  Over half of them were college athletes or special forces, or some type of gangster that I wasn’t.  A year before, I weighed 225 pounds but I’d put in the work to make it to 162 pounds and 21% body fat in this picture.  I was the classic example of “skinny fat”; I had lost a lot of weight but I certainly didn’t look the way I thought I would look after losing over 60 pounds.  While, yes, I have my shirt off in this picture (the one above), it was by accident.  Like I said, I was the last one to show up and I had my shirt in my hands wiping off the sweat from my brow.  Before I knew it, someone said “cheese” and yet another embarrassing picture of me ended up on the internet (nothing new about that though).


This is what I look like now after a few years of making muscle a priority, I weigh almost exactly the same as the original picture except I have 30 pounds more muscle.

This year will be my 6th Murph.  I have never done the workout “Rx”, and by that I mean I’ve never done Murph with a 20 pound vest on.  I have learned a few things along the way regarding nutrition and strategy that might be helpful though!  If you don’t know what “Murph” is here you go, also for fun I added “Super Murph” (there are a few versions but this seems to be the most common).

Murph WOD


Tip 1:  Load Carbs The Night Before


Eat some carbs the night before.  Nothing crazy, because Murph is kind of a grinder and if you go over your red line too often you will be there forever.  No need for three plates of spaghetti this time, just make sure to have some rice or potatoes the night before.  Don’t go to bed hungry.

Tip 2:  Eat A Balanced Meal Two Hours Before

No, not THAT kind of balance...

No, not THAT kind of balance…

Eat a meal 2 hours beforehand to top off your energy stores.  Now, if are going to do Murph super early in the morning, you can do it fasted but that’s an individual preference kind of thing.  Just don’t puke – everyone’s gonna be tired and no one wants to clean up that mess.  Once again, carbs should be in the mix but balance is probably more important.  If you would normally have a big breakfast without working out, have about half of that.

Tip 3:  Pace Yourself!


Roger Bannister isn’t the goal for this one.  Whatever your mile time is, you shouldn’t be anywhere near it on the first mile run.  Pace is the key to Murph.  Just run a decent time but leave enough in the tank so you don’t have your hands on your knees 30 reps into the next part of the workout.

Tip 4:  Tape Your Hands


I get it, you’re super-gangster and you have alligator skin.  I don’t care, tape your damn hands!  There is no need to miss a weeks worth of workouts because you didn’t plan well enough.

Tip 5:  Wear Running Shoes


I will be wearing running shoes, and you should consider it too.  Normally, you should squat with a firm heel but this workout has a lot of running.  The raised, cushioned heel of a running shoe might not be ideal but it’s not as bad as you might think for the air squats.

Tip 6:  Don’t Try To Go Unbroken

pace yourself

Push it, but don’t go to failure.  Here’s what I mean:  if you can do 20 unbroken pull-ups, do 15.  Trust me, it will make a difference quick.  I know you think you can recover during the push ups and the air squats but having your heart rate up that high will quickly drop your rate of recovery to almost nothing.

Tip 6a:  Put Some Reps In The Bank


If you break it up like “Cindy”, the rep scheme is 5, 10, and 15, the problem here isn’t the rep scheme, it’s the transitions.  Get as many reps out of the way early that you can do comfortable because it will matter in the later rounds.

Tip 7:  Respect Your Limitations


You aren’t Murph.  Listen to your body.  For a lot of folks this is one of the hardest WODs they will do all year, the last thing you want to do is get hurt.  Take your time and respect your limits.  I have PR’d Murph a few times but I have never TRIED to PR Murph and I think that’s the way it should be done.

Tip 8:  REFUEL, Unwind, and RECOVER!


Have a beer and a hot dog or a hamburger on a bun (with potato chips and potato salad).  Sure, you probably need the carbs a bit but life’s too short to have freedoms someone else fought for only to be a food snob.  Obviously I am half kidding, you can eat whatever you want but if you are avoiding eating a bun but just did Murph with a 20 pound vest on you might be sort of missing the point in my view.  Murph is a calorie free holiday, so eat up!