Meet the Man Who Did 365 Murphs in 365 days

February 25, 2021 by
Courtesy of Graham Dessert:
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In the last 365 days, as the world battled against COVID-19, Graham Dessert woke up and prepared to battle Murph. 

  • Literally, every single day for an entire year — from February 22, 2020 until February 20, 2021, the 40-year-old put on his weighted vest and hit Murph.

Remind me: The Hero workout Murph — named after Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy who was killed in action 2005 — involves a one mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, and ends with a second one mile run. The Rx version includes doing the entire workout in a weighted vest.

We had to ask: “Why? Just, why?”

  • “I was inspired by my business partner. He called me up because he was inspired to do something crazy and said, ‘I’m thinking about doing Murph every day for a year.’ I guess it just intrigued me…I like doing hard things,” said Dessert, who has done various other “crazy things” in his life, like that time he ran across Greece. 
  • Though he was first inspired by his business partner, it was Tim Grover, the motivational speaker and world renowned personal trainer who has worked with iconic athletes like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and Michael Jordan, who got Dessert to pull the trigger. 
  • Dessert was training with Grover virtually for eight weeks, and one day they got into a conversation about how people procrastinate their goals. “And I just realized I had been thinking about doing this for a long time, so all of a sudden I was like, ‘I’m just going to start,’” Dessert explained.

The details: Though he mostly did Murph alone in his neighborhood in Carlsbad, CA — usually running to the park to do his 100 pull-ups — Dessert also traveled quite a bit for work in the last year and logged Murphs in various cities, including Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Tampa and Seattle, as well as on vacation in Mexico. “I did it as early as 3 a.m and as late as 11 pm,” Dessert said.

  • His fastest time was 34:48, and his slowest time was about an hour-and-a-half, “when I had COVID,” he said. Yes, you read that right: Dessert caught COVID in late December 2020, and still honored his daily Murph commitment. 
  • Though the COVID Murphs were difficult, the hardest ones took place in the first month as his body hadn’t yet adapted to the daily volume. “There were nights where my wife was like, ‘What are you doing to yourself?’ The inflammation in my body was enough that I couldn’t sleep at night,” he said. 
  • But once he got over that first month or so, it got a lot easier. By month three, the hardest part was the boredom. “But I learned that a lot of creativity can come out of boredom,” he said. In fact, it was during this time that Dessert came up with a business idea that he is now actively pursuing — a leadership program for kids. 
  • Once July hit, Dessert had hit his stride and since the weather was nice, he added a couple more three or four mile runs into his training each week. “And I just felt like I needed to strengthen my core, so I also did some weighted sit-ups inside the Murph. Two hundred weighted sit-ups once a week,” he said. 
Courtesy of Graham Dessert:

Not without critics: For Dessert, the decision to do a Murph a day for 365 days was more for the mental, as opposed to physical benefits. In fact, he recognized that the challenge might do more physical damage than good, which people frequently pointed out to him.

  • “I have friends in the CrossFit community who were like, ‘Whoa, why would you do that? That doesn’t sound like a good thing to do…And it wasn’t advised by my doctor either,” he said, laughing. 
  • Dessert added: “From an athletic standpoint, you’re doing the same thing over and over again. It’s not the best idea. You’re limiting your body to certain movements and it makes you more prone to injury. But for me, doing it was less about the physical standpoint and more the mental standpoint.”

The result: Logging 365 Murphs “delivered more than they promised,” Dessert said. It helped him believe he’s capable of more than he thinks, improved his ability to overcome challenges, and solidified the power that comes from developing habits, he explained.

  • “We as people are truly capable of anything with a little bit of daily work. The time that I put into this, I can take that time and effort and put it into anything. Consistent and persistent work. That’s what it comes down to,” Dessert said. “Also, something like this tests your ability to handle challenges. It’s a direct reflection of your ability to problem solve, and we can apply this to anything.”
  • He added: “Repetition is the mother of all skills…Then things become habits and they’re just automatic.”

After 730 miles, 36,500 pull-ups, 73,000 push-ups and 109,500 squats in a weighted vest, it’s safe to say Murph has become automatic to Dessert. 

On day 366, Dessert woke up and, for good measure, did Murph. Just one more time. 

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