Most Crossfit workouts take 10-25 minutes. You work really, really hard for a short amount of time and then you're done. What gets me through most workouts is knowing that it will be over soon. So why is my favorite Crossfit workout the one that can take almost an hour?

Murph is a hero workout named after "Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. This workout was one of Mike's favorites and he'd named it "Body Armor". From here on it will be referred to as "Murph" in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is." (Crossfit.com)

Run 1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
Run 1 mile

You can do the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in any order you want, but you have to do the mile run first and last. To truly RX it, you should wear a 20 pound weight vest.

We did this WOD back in April. It looks pretty impossible when you read it, but you can do it. It's a workout where you have a lot of time to think. You're out there running on your own, then you get back in the box and you have to think about how you can best get all these reps done, and while you do that you think about how much your quads burn and the push-ups hurt, and then you have to go run again. In April, I did the workout with a blue band for pull-ups and knee push-ups. I finished in 50 minutes. That's a long time to be working hard, but I finished. 

I knew this was coming up again this week.I got really excited because it's such a challenge. I was hoping I could do it with real push-ups this time, but I'm just not there yet. 200 is a lot of push-ups to do. I also wanted to use a red band for pull-ups. My pull-ups are getting better and I'm so close to RXing them during a WOD. But not this one. I had a tan band on hand just in case I couldn't handle the red, but I really, really wanted to stick with the red. I was also thinking of trying 10 rounds of 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, and 30 squats. This changed at the last minute. 

Wednesday was a very cold night. I was in a 5:30pm class with 6 other women. We were all at different levels. We had to bundle up for the first run, since we weren't quite warm yet. When I got back inside, I decided to do 20 sets of 5-10-15. Although it would take more time to get in and out of the pull-up band, I wasn't too confident with my push-ups. For Murph, you just keep on going. I ran the first mile in 9 minutes and left for my last mile around 34 minutes. That's 25 minutes of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. That's a lot of time to think about those moves and why you're doing them. But I kept marking my rounds and they kept piling up. After round 13, I decided to try a longer round. That worked that time, but it wasn't going to work the rest of the time. I must work on my push-ups. Also, I didn't stretch out enough beforehand and my quads started burning after a few squats. But I kept on going.

That last run was one of the hardest runs of my life. It had gotten colder and I had been working hard for 35 minutes. My lungs felt like they couldn't handle the work. I was short of breath, but I had to keep going. My body wanted to walk,  but my mind wanted to finish. As I rounded the corner after 800 meters, I looked at the clock and saw that I was still under 40 minutes. I could do this. I could make my goal of 45 minutes. I wanted to walk so badly, my breathing was so strained, but I kept running. It helped to run past the other women who were finishing, knowing that we were all trying to get this thing done and finish. I came in at 44:31. I beat my previous time by 6 minutes using a lighter band. I could hardly breathe at first, but I finished.

Murph is a marathon WOD. You have to battle with yourself to finish. This is what I love about Crossfit. In our regular lives, we make decisions every day and choose our battles. In Crossfit, someone else chooses our battles, but we have to decide how to get them done. It's physical and mental. Finishing is all that matters.

The Perfect Food

The most perfect food in the world is a sweet potato. Whoever first dug these up out of the ground has a special place in my heart. I'm not even sure of the difference between a sweet potato and a yam, but if it's orange in the middle, I'll eat it. You could do so much with them, but the great thing about them is that you don't have to. You could simply throw it in the oven for an hour, open it up, sprinkle cinnamon on it, and eat it. Even I can do that (and I do)! ?They're even great after a long, hard workout. They'll replenish some of that energy you spent. They're bursting with vitamins!

No matter where I am, I make my mom's sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving. Unless I'm with my mom, of course. Then she'll take care of it. It seems like wherever I go and I show up with my sweet potatoes, someone asks if I put marshmallows on them. Blasphemy! Why would I do that to a perfectly good food? A sweet potato is perfect as is, but can be so much sweeter with just a few little tweaks. 

So against my better judgment, I'm going to share my mom's sweet potato recipe. Please don't steal it, awful cooking website. This is sacred stuff here.

Mom's Best Ever Sweet Potato Crisp
2 18 oz. cans sweet potatoes, drained & sliced 3/8 inch thick. OR 4 sweet potatoes cooked and sliced
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup flour*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts

Place potatoes in a greased, shallow baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 about 15 minutes. Mix butter, flour, & brown sugar. Add cream & nuts. Mix well. Remove cover from potatoes. Spread mixture over sliced potatoes and broil 5 inches from the heat source for 5-7 minutes or until bubbly. It's best if some of it burns just a little.

*Since I'm generally gluten-free, I didn't have regular flour yesterday, so I used sorghum flour. It tasted fine but the consistency was weird. Just stick to the basics if you can.


The Key to Decreasing Pants Sizes

Some people start working out because they want to lose weight. I started working out, and continue to work out, because I wanted smaller pants sizes. I wasn't ready to move into the double-digit category (I know, a 10 is fine, but not for my body), so I did something about it. Now I'm a 4 (depending on the pants). This is probably where I should be, so I'm going to stick with it for a while. How did I get here?

A kettlebell. This is even the weight I use - 35 pounds - or 1 pood if you like Russians. We swing them overhead. It's a good time. Before I started Crossfit, I used to play around with some kettlebells at home. They were only about 10 pounds. That seems like such a long time ago. Anyway, I'm sure there were a lot of factors that led to size 4 jeans, but I think kettlebells play a big part of it.

A successful kettlebell swing needs strong hips. If you're letting your arms do all the work, they're going to get tired pretty quick. If you're doing a workout like Helen, which we did yesterday, that calls for 63 total kettlebell swings, your arms are going to give out if you don't use your hips. I felt like my arms were going numb during Helen yesterday (running in the cold rain was also involved), but I managed to get those three sets of kettlebell swings unbroken. I used my hips! (On a side note, I almost got my pull-ups unbroken too. Almost) I found a great video last week that shows the proper hip thrust for kettlebells.

That's a lot of work for your hips. And the more the hips get some good work, the smaller they get. I'm convinced of this.

And here are some kettlebells in action at Eugene Crossfit. I'm totally in control of that swing.


My Testimonials

I was asked to submit a testimonial for the Grand Opening of our new box this weekend. No problem! Pictures? Ugh. Before Crossfit, I was really hating how I looked in pictures. But I don't look that way anymore, so I submitted 2:
This was me after we first moved out here. Not awful, just wider.

This was me just before I started Crossfit. I wasn't crazy about the hair either.

I never joined a gym until I was 27. Besides the occasional step class, I would usually zone out on the elliptical for a half hour and call it good. I consistently gained weight throughout my late 20s. I started hating how I looked in pictures. I read so many fitness magazines and I knew what I had to do, but I didn't have the drive to do it. I knew I could get my body smokin' if I just made the commitment. My fiancee introduced me to Crossfit in July 2009. The first day, I had to hold a sandbag over my head and flip tires (not at the same time). I felt really slow compared to everyone else. But it was something I had never done before and I wanted to do more. My body changed instantly. I lost 7 pounds in the first 2 and a half weeks. I started going 3-4 times a week. I started chatting with the other people. From the beginning, the community has brought me back. Everyone cheers for each other and encourages each other to do better. Crossfit not only helped me physically, but it helped me emotionally. Winters can be tough here, but I show up to Crossfit knowing I'll do something that will challenge me and I'll see people that I like to see. I've never been a runner, but I recently finished a half-marathon. That felt pretty amazing, and I could finish it because of Crossfit. I've lost about 15 pounds so far and I've had to get rid of a lot of pants that don't fit anymore. I'm not an athlete, but I play one when I come to Crossfit.

This is me in August, running the Scandia 10K Run.

I post my workouts on Beyond the Whiteboard, which tracks numbers. I even found a testimonial button on there!

My name is Robin. I have been CrossFitting for over 1 year. I usually workout around 3.0 times per week. I have posted 243 workouts and set 39 personal records. Along the way I have run 180,344 meters and lifted 38,408 pounds. I have also done 1,591 push-ups, 1,126 pull-ups, and 2,647 sit-ups.

So these are my stories. I'm sticking to them.