Keep Moving: Find Your Challenge

The Murph fitness journey


One of my favorite things about being a personal trainer is that I get to be part of my clients’ fitness journey. When someone achieves a life-changing fitness milestone, frequently they share some common traits.

They envision a meaningful goal. They train consistently. They reduce injury risk. Last, but not least, they celebrate the journey.

What calls you?

“It seemed so daunting at first. But then we trained for it.”

That’s how Janet summarizes The Murph Challenge, honoring Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, a U.S. Navy SEAL who received a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery.

“Take our time. This is why we’re here.”

That’s the daily mantra recited by European travel expert Rick Steves, while he trekked the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland.

Janet is my client. Steves is my neighbor: We’ve never spoken, but we sometimes wave during walks through our lovely Edmonds hometown.

Janet chose “Murph” to commemorate her 67th birthday. Murph consists of:

  • 1-Mile Run, followed by:
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push-Ups
  • 300 Squats
  • Finishing with another 1-Mile Run
  • All while wearing a 20-lb vest

Janet faced an additional challenge: An arthritic shoulder would make 200 push-ups extra hard. She also considered herself a weak runner. Murph includes two, mile-long runs.

Steves was 66 last fall when he hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc, a multi-day trek that circles Western Europe’s largest mountain. As an added challenge, Steves blogged that he and his three companions were “total novices” at long-distance hiking.

Train consistently

Janet practiced her Murph exercises 2-3 times per week for six months. She turned running into a strength by gradually increasing her distance. She even entered her first 5K and won her age division!

Steves and his girlfriend, Shelley, eased into training with walks around Green Lake in Seattle. They progressed to more challenging routes like Mt. Si.

Minimize injury risk and maximum fun

Janet and I include balance training in her workouts. Steves cites daily stretching as one of his top trail tips.

Janet accommodated her arthritic shoulder by performing push-ups on a slight incline. We modified her pull-ups with an assistance band. She wore a weighted vested during specific training sessions, but not during her actual Murph.

Steves cheerfully blogged that his group “cheated a bit” on the 110-mile Tour du Mont Blanc, by hiking “the best 60 miles in six days,” then “catching local buses through the less exciting parts, and letting a ‘sherpa service’ shuttle our bags” to each day’s final destination.

Celebrate your journey and keep moving!

Steves calls the Tour du Mont Blanc “the best hike of my life.” He told Outside magazine that he’s got a “bucket list” of future treks, including the Dolomite trails in Italy.

Janet has a bucket list, too. She wants to hike every trail in the revered 100 Classic Hikes: Washington. So far, Janet has completed 70 hikes … and counting. She has three more planned this summer.

Mike Harms is an author, personal trainer, and owner of Muscle & Hustle gym in Seattle.

Leave A Reply (Your email address will not be published)