The Murph Challenge: How I Tackled It

At the beginning of the year, I was looking for a physical challenge to keep me motivated and continuing my exercise regime. At the end of March, I watched the video of a group of people doing the Murph Challenge. Even though it looked daunting, I called my oldest daughter and asked her if she would want to do it with me. She was excited, so we set up a plan and began training. I knew in order to make it through the training and the challenge I would need to read inspirational fitness quotes on a daily basis.

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides a champion from someone who is not a champion.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time Mr. Olympia

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
— Bruce Lee, actor, and martial artist

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The Murph Challenge

Lieutenant Michael P Murphy was a Navy Seal who was killed in action on June 28, 2005, in Afghanistan. LT. Murphy was severely wounded but still fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape before he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007. Thousands of men and women honor his memory by competing in The Murph Challenge on Memorial Day every year. It has become a humbling tradition that gives us an opportunity to push ourselves and persevere to honor, LT. Michael P. Murphy, a man who sacrificed everything he had for our freedom.

LT. Michael P. Murphy

The Murph Challenge consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run while wearing a 20-pound vest. Why would I want to put my body through such a test? Even though I’m in good physical condition, especially for a man my age (I will be 60 years young in August), I wasn’t close to being in the type of shape I needed to be in to complete this challenge. I could do only three pull-ups and 10 push-ups when I started. I knew I would need a big WHY to keep me going. My WHY was that I wanted to do it to honor my family members, my friends, and all the servicemen and women who paid that ultimate sacrifice fighting for our country.

 “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.”
— Michael Jordan, basketball player

 “A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t.”
— Jack Dempsey, professional boxer

Why Would I Do This To Myself?

After I had my WHY, I then wrote down my goal. This was easy because The Murph Challenge is specific and given to you. My goal was to complete it as specified and not modify it. I could’ve decided to do it without the vest but I really wanted to challenge myself and prove that age is just a number.

The hardest part for me was coming up with a plan to be able to tackle this challenge. When I sat down and looked at the workout, it scared me. I had no idea how I was going to get through it. Then I read my favorite inspirational quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I came to the conclusion that I could do small parts of the whole challenge. I had two months to train so I broke down The Murph Challenge into fractions.

Man doing push ups
200 Pushups

The Plan

I began on the first of April with a plan to do one-fourth of The Murph Challenge without wearing the 20-pound vest. I would do this workout, 25 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, and 75 squats, three times a week for two weeks.

During weeks 3 and 4, I increased my workout by attempting to do one half of The Murph Challenge. I completed this workout three times a week, but only wore the vest during one of those three workouts.

As weeks 5 and 6 rolled around, I was strong enough to complete one half of a Murph with the vest three times a week. With only two weeks to go before the challenge, I knew I had to ramp up my training.

In weeks 7 and 8, the last weeks before The Murph Challenge, I decided that I needed to do 80 percent of a Murph, without the vest, three times a week. As painful as this was, it gave me the confidence that I would need to complete the challenge. Throughout my training, I was constantly listening to motivational speeches and reading the inspirational quotes that I have included in this post.

“What hurts today makes you stronger tomorrow.”
— Jay Cutler, pro bodybuilder and four-time Mr. Olympia

 “If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.”
— Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, actor and pro wrestler

The Day Is Finally Here

Memorial Day has finally arrived and I will get to achieve the goal I had set for myself two months ago. I have to admit that I was glad the day was finally here because the training had become harder on my body. It took me longer to recover between training days. I woke up that morning and felt great. My body was strong and I knew I would endure the pain and make it through. Unfortunately, my daughter had moved back to her apartment to begin work again and we couldn’t do it together. It’s always easier to have a partner, someone to suffer with you, and motivate you. I would have to motivate myself, so I fired up some good music, inspirational speeches, and fitness quotes, and off I went.

Elderly man running
Perseverance

One Mile Run

I put on the vest, which felt a lot heavier than 20 pounds and opened the garage door. I was disappointed at the site and the sounds of a rainstorm. Hesitating for a minute, went over my options, determining that I only had one. I went out into the dark, rainy morning. At times, the rain was coming in sideways and I felt the sting on my face of raindrops propelled by the wind. I continued on, knowing I couldn’t turn back. My adrenaline was pumping and I moved with a brisk pace, hardly feeling the extra weight.

So Many Pull Ups

After finishing my one-mile run/walk, I had decided to do 10 sets of 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, and 30 squats. My first set was as painful as it always was. My arm and shoulder muscles felt as if they were on fire as I lifted my body off the ground. It takes a while for my old joints and muscles to get warmed up, but I knew from my training that the pain was going to go away the more sets I did.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”
— John Wooden, basketball player and coach

“You have to think it before you can do it. The mind is what makes it all possible.”
— Kai Greene, pro bodybuilder and artist

By the time I finished the fifth set, I was feeling good. I was tired but my muscles were strong and I knew I could keep going. During the sixth and seventh set, I noticed that my grip strength was beginning to wane. Reading the inspirational quotes really helped me to stay focused and forget about the pain.

the word push
Keep Pushing

Almost Home

Finishing the eighth set was a milestone for me. I had never completed 80 percent of a Murph while wearing the 20-pound vest. Now I knew that nothing was going to stop me despite the pain in my shoulders, hands, knees, and elbows. Two more to go.

Approaching my last set, I was feeling extreme pain in my arms and shoulders but I was too close to quit. I just kept repeating my favorite quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” over and over until I completed my last squat. I did it! Only one more mile to go.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan

“When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.” 
—Unknown

The Last Mile

I headed out into a steady rain this time, not the downpour I endured on my first mile and was thankful it was not a normal humid Florida morning. This time I moved a lot slower than I did when I began the challenge. The weight of the vest was digging into my shoulders and felt like 100 pounds. The pain I felt in my arms and shoulders from all the pull-ups and push-ups was almost unbearable and I wanted to stop. I just kept going, putting one foot in front of the other until I saw the finish line. The inspirational quotes kept repeating in my head and gave me the strength to persevere.

man on a mountain
Victory

Victory

Finally, it was over and I had done it. I pushed through the pain and it humbled me as I thought about my reasons for taking on this challenge. The images of my family and friends were imprinted in my mind and were there with me. They were my team along with all the men and women of the Armed Forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. My victory over this challenge is dedicated to Brad Smith a colleague of mine in the DEA. Brad passed away a little over a month ago after a long courageous battle with cancer.

Final Thoughts

Taking on The Murph Challenge is no different than taking on any of life’s other challenges. Are you facing any challenges today in life you need to take on? If so, just do what I did and use the tools of success to overcome those challenges. Decide your WHY, set a goal, make your plan, and go work your plan. Break it down into its simplest form, something you know you can handle and begin. Find your team to help you overcome any obstacles. Use these inspirational quotes to help get you through the most difficult times. When you want to quit, think about why you started. Persevere and victory will be yours.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
—Steve Prefontaine

Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
—Jerry Rice

Have you ever took on a challenge and beat it? If so, I would love to hear about it. Leave a reply along with your quotes, advice, tips, or links to helpful groups or sites in the comments section below. If you have any questions or requests for topics I would love to hear them. If you like this post, click on the little star and feel free to share it with others it might help. As always, my posts are based on lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. I don’t claim to be an expert or professional therapist, I just play one on TV (some of you might get that joke).

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“This Train Is Moving on, You Can Get on, You Can Get off, But the Train Keeps Moving on! We Are Going to the Top of the Mountain!”

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The Fateful Day That Changed My Life

Almost 30 years ago I sat on my bunk inside our tent in the jungles of Peru. It was 10 o’clock in the morning and as the sweat rolled down my face, I looked at the thermometer and the temperature read 104 degrees. As I buttoned my shirt, I realized that this was the first time I had worn my civilian clothes in three weeks. I looked down at my laundry bag and rucksack which were both full. I was excited, because today I was going to Lima for a much-needed three day R & R (rest and relaxation). I picked up my bags and headed out of the tent into the intense heat of the Upper Huallaga Valley. As I passed the sandbag wall that protected our tent, I turned left and walked down the dirt road that circled inside our encampment. I could smell the food cooking in the mess hall and was thankful I would be eating in a restaurant that evening. I spoke with some of the Peruvian National Police officers while walking past their barracks. I realized and was thankful that the bags I was carrying were much lighter than all the ammunition and explosives I normally carried on an operation. Walking past the helicopters, I waved goodbye to the mechanics and pilots who were performing maintenance. I then turned and walked past the mortar positions and out the gate, which was covered in concertina wire, onto the airstrip. There I met up with my two buddies who were making the trip with me. We were all excited about eating good food, sleeping in a comfortable bed, and meeting beautiful Peruvian ladies. I didn’t know at the time but this trip would change my life forever.

Concertina Wire
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

I saw the aircraft approaching the runway and was thankful that it was a beautiful day, which meant the flight wouldn’t be canceled because of bad weather. The plane was a gray C-123 cargo plane. It had two propeller engines and was short and fat. We had nicknamed the plane “El Burro” because it kind of resembled a small donkey. I could smell the aviation fuel as the plane taxied to the end of the runway and turned around to prepare for takeoff. We helped unload supplies for the camp and load things that needed to be transported to Lima. By the time we were finished, our clothes were wet, and we were covered in sweat. It was something you just got used to, living in the jungle. I walked up the ramp at the tail of the plane and found a seat at the front of the cargo section. The seats were made out of cargo netting but were still comfortable. I found my oxygen mask which I would be needing later. The aircraft was not pressurized so once we climbed above 10,000 feet we would need to put on our masks and breathe oxygen, if not we would pass out. We called the trip from the jungle to Lima, “Over the Hump,” because we had to fly over the Andes Mountains. We were told that the pilots had to take the aircraft up as high as it could go to get over the mountains. I took a paperback out of my bag and turned to the dog-eared page where I’d left off. I read a lot in the jungle because when we weren’t on operations or preparing for the next operation, there was nothing else to do. I heard the propellers begin to crank up and the noise then turned into a deafening roar as they got up to full speed. El Burro launched forward and gained momentum as it traveled down the airstrip. We were all bouncing around the back of the aircraft, then everything got smooth as we lifted off. In a little over an hour we would be in Lima and amongst their 5.8 million inhabitants.

The Burro

Later that evening, after a shower and change of clothes, my friends and I decided to go to a British Pub for a good meal and some beers. As I walked in the front door I saw her standing at the end of the bar. She might not have been the most beautiful girl in the room, or the tallest, but she was the only person in the room that I saw. I’ll never forget it, she was wearing a white top, a short blue jean skirt, and blue pumps. She was leaning against the wall with her right leg bent and her foot against the wall. She was standing there talking to some other people, but I couldn’t even tell you who she was talking to because the only person I saw was her. There was an instant attraction. I was told that she was friends with the owner of the pub and that she was dating a German who worked for the airlines. I didn’t even talk to her that evening.

British Pub
Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

I went back to the jungle, finished my tour, and returned to the states. About a year later, I was on another tour and once again went to the pub. I was sitting at a table, eating, and drinking with my friends. The pub was packed that night and filled with laughter and rock music. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder and say excuse me, when I turned around it was her. She said she needed to go to the restroom and asked if I could lean up so she could squeeze between my chair and the pole behind me. About a minute later, she came back and I leaned up to let her through. She came up to me, asking to get by, two more times within a half-hour. After the third time, I was thinking that this girl must have a tiny bladder. I remember her saying, in the sweetest voice, “you must hate me.” I just smiled and said it wasn’t a problem. I still thought she was in a relationship so I didn’t bother trying to talk to her, even though I was still very attracted to her. After a few beers, I saw a very pretty girl standing near the bathrooms and decided to take a shot. I went up to her and asked, “Do you speak English?” She replied, “No, but my friend does.” She then pointed to her friend; the girl I had been attracted to. That was all it took and I went up and introduced myself. She said her name was Sofia and we talked and had a wonderful night. I then went back to the jungle and back to the states without seeing her again.

What A Good Looking Couple!

Several months later, I was back in Lima and ran into Sofia. She gave me her phone number and I was off once again to the jungle. A few weeks later I made another trip, “Over the Hump,” to Lima. The Burro had been delayed because of the weather and we arrived close to 6 o’clock. I had debated on the flight whether to call Sofia or not. As we landed I rushed to our office at the airport and decided if it was still open that was a sign I should call Sofia. I found the office open even though everyone would’ve normally left around five. I gave her a call and asked her out on a date. She accepted and even though I didn’t know it at the time, that phone call was going to change my life forever.

Napa Valley

This week we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. It has been 27 wonderful years and has produced two beautiful successful daughters. I want to wish Sofia a Happy Mother’s Day. She has been the best example to our two daughters, is the glue that holds our family together, and always keeps us laughing.

I also want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, in heaven. She always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to. You can be anything you want to be.”

The Wonderful, Awesome Power of Music

Music is such a powerful instrument. It can invoke many different feelings inside us. It can make us feel happy, sad, or put us into deep thought. It can inspire us and even transport us back in time by bringing up a memory. It can get your heart beating fast and pumping adrenaline. It can put you in a very relaxed, calm state of mind.

I was working out this morning and I always listen to music while I exercise. I have a playlist in my phone of several upbeat songs that keep my adrenaline flowing throughout my workout. Today as I started my workout, the first song that came on was, It’s My Life by Bon Jovi. I got this overwhelming joyous feeling in my heart because the words of the song matched perfectly with my life. My life changed dramatically yesterday in a very good way and took all the success I’ve had in the past to a whole different level. I’ve heard the song probably a thousand times before but today I really listened to the words.

If you are looking to overcome any of life’s challenges, request your FREE 3step success plan now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx2u5uUu3DE

It’s my life

It is just that, my life. I am in total control of what happens in my life based on my reactions to circumstances that happen every day. You are in control of your life. Today many people allow other forces to control them. Many people are living in fear because of the pandemic and the information they are listening to. I choose faith and faith and fear cannot exist in the same place at the same time. Both faith and fear are a choice and you have to choose one or the other. Most of my neighbors can’t believe that my wife and I still go out to eat. They live in fear. Last night we drove to our favorite burger joint and had a great meal. We practiced social distancing, covered our faces, and went to the front door and ordered our meal. We went back to the car and a short time later; they brought our order out to us. We had a wonderful time sitting in the car enjoying our burgers and shakes. It reminded me of our first date almost 30 years ago. We went to a burger joint in Lima, Peru where they brought the food out to you and you ate it in the car.

Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com

It’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever

This is it; it is NOW! Now is the time to make that decision to change your life. I am rapidly approaching what is said to be the fourth quarter of life. I could just sit back and enjoy the next 20 or so years, but that isn’t me. I want to do so much.  I have so many people that I want to help. I want to increase my giving. I want to pass along these lessons to millions and millions of people. And the time is now, today, because just as it says in the lyrics; I ain’t gonna live forever, we are not promised any certain period of time. We are not promised tomorrow, so the time to make that decision to change, to help people, to live your dreams is NOW!

I just want to live while I’m alive (It’s my life)

Life is a beautiful thing. Get out there every day and live it like it’s your last. Dance like no one’s watching and sing like you have the voice of an angel. Do everything that you want to do. Try things that make you uncomfortable. We only have a finite number of days on this wonderful planet, make the most out of each one.

Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels.com

My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
I just want to live while I’m alive

Open your heart and follow it where it’s leading you. Be in tune with your inner feelings and listen to those little voices encouraging you to do something good. You always know what’s good because it will make you happy when you think about it. Listen to the words of Frankie and do it your way. Your way might not be the only way but it is the best way for you. Go out and live life now while you’re alive because afterwards it’s too late.

The next random song that came on from my playlist was Right Now by Van Halen. I don’t think there’s two songs in my playlist that would have had a better impact on me. It just confirmed that all these great things are happening to me right now. I need to make the most of every day. Whenever I hear this song it takes me back to my days in the jungle. I used to carry a Sony Walkman cassette player and earphones as part of my equipment. We had open doors on the helicopters and I would always sit next to the door gunner. I would start playing this song right before the helicopter lifted off. Many times we would fly what the pilots call “nape of the earth” which is just a few feet above the ground. They would fly right over the river and follow the curves at a very fast speed. It was exhilarating. When I hear the song I’m transported back inside the helicopter to a very happy time for me. We never knew what would happen when we arrived at our objective. Would it be an easy day or would they be waiting for us and we would have to fight our way out? I never felt more alive. Right Now makes me feel alive when I hear it and reminds me that right now is the time to get it done.

Whatever you want to accomplish start right now. Don’t wait for the perfect day or time. Don’t wait for the pandemic to be over and COVID-19 to be wiped out.  Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week. Don’t wait until the end of the semester or when you get that big project finished at work. There is no better day than today, so go get it done. IT’S YOUR LIFE – go live it.

“This Train Is Moving On, You Can Get On, You Can Get Off, But The Train Keeps Moving On! We Are Going To The Top Of The Mountain!”

Sharing

I believe in the power of sharing. If I read a good blog that really speaks to me and I believe it will provide value to others, I will share it. I have linked four books that I believe have value. In order to change you, you first have to change the way you think. Leaders Are Readers!

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant. These are short stories about Kobe’s experiences coupled with some fantastic photos. It shows that the little things can add up to greatness. I recently listened to an interview where Kobe said he would start his first workout at 4 AM to get ahead of its competition. His mental approach to the game is what made him great.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This is an oldie but goodie that is full of relevant life lessons. It is a book that you hear speaker after speaker refer to. Successful people all have the same mentality and know you have to change the way you think to be successful. Only one percent of people set goals.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson. I found this to be a sophisticated yet easy read. This book goes along with a lot of what I write about in my blog. What other people think about you doesn’t matter so you should stop getting stressed out about it. Focus all your energy on what really matters which is you and your goals.

Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals LEAD and WIN by Jocko Willink. A book for everyone that I found basic and clear about leadership, teamwork, and having the right mindset. It is full of great stories with useful and applicable lessons. Own every decision you make.

I also highly recommend checking out the Audible Membership from Amazon. I can download great books on the Audible app and listen to them with my AirPods while I go on my morning walks.  I use my AirPods every time I exercise. They don’t fall out and the sound is great. You can get any of these products simply by clicking on the links above. If you do purchase any products through my links, I’ll get a small commission from Amazon at no additional cost to you.

I appreciate every like, follow, comment and share. Keep’em coming.