Why We Program Hero WODs at CrossFit Full Circle

Why We Program Hero WODs at CrossFit Full Circle

By Coach Matt Bahen

michael_WODYou’ve probably done a Hero WOD here at CrossFit Full Circle and thought, “Wow! That was tough!” Or maybe you’ve seen a Hero WOD on the website and thought, “Nope! Gonna sleep in that day.”

What are Hero WODs? Why are they so frigging hard? What’s the story with them anyway?

Well, I’m gonna try to help you understand a little more about them and why we program them here at CrossFit Full Circle. More importantly, I’m gonna try to help you understand the story behind at least a few of them.

So what are Hero WODs? Unfortunately the list is way too long, but if you want to see all of them check out this list from CrossFit HQ. Basically, a Hero WOD is a workout that was created by CrossFit to honor somebody who has paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others. Most are from the military, and most are men, but not all of them. Some are for firefighters, some are for police officers, and yes some are for women who also have put their lives on the line for us. Each WOD is unique; it usually reflects something from the Hero’s life as far as movements they enjoyed (or hated…) doing, and the “scheme” of each usually holds some significance surrounding the events in which they sacrificed their lives. And that’s why we program them here periodically.

We want to remember these heroes and their sacrifice, but more importantly we never want you to forget what they did for us.

CF_michael_0415So why are they so frigging hard? That’s a complicated question to answer, but I think they are so hard because life is hard. And if you’re looking for the easy life, then maybe CrossFit and CrossFit Full Circle just ain’t for you. The things we as a society ask of these heroes to do on a DAILY basis FOR US are both extremely difficult and dangerous. These men and women must prepare physically and mentally to go way above and beyond the call of duty. They have to because WE ask them to stand on that fragile line that separates good from evil. Training hard is required to do their jobs and to do it well. They must be ready to answer that call when evil comes knocking on the door of the good. That is why I think Hero WODs are tough.

One of the most well known Hero WODs is “Murph,” and we typically do that one around Memorial Day each year. “Murph” hurts. It is long, it is tough, and most people can’t do it RX’d at first. This year I did “Murph” RX’d, which means I ran one mile, did 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 air squats, and ran another mile ALL while wearing 22 lbs of body armor.

Did it suck? Absolutely. Did I wanna stop and quit? Bet your @$$ I did. Did I quit? F**K no I didn’t.

mmmcgreevyjr-gravesite-photo-december-2005You see, just like any time I do a Hero WOD, my buddy Mike is right there beside me doing it with me. Now despite the fact that Mike basically can do “Murph” twice as fast as me, he’s always there encouraging me to finish. He’s doing extra reps alongside me to motivate me. He cheers LOUDLY when I’m done and is the first to high five me or give me a sweaty hug. Mike, and many of my other buddies just like him, are the reason I don’t quit when sh*t gets tough.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my buddy Mike wasn’t physically alongside me this year during “Murph.” In fact, Mike hasn’t been physically alongside me during a WOD since 2005. Mike, LT (SEAL) Michael McGreevy, rests in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. That’s right. My buddy Mike is the same guy the WOD “Michael” is named after. He was one of the 16 special operations members killed when their helicopter was shot down while attempting to rescue LT Murphy (aka “Murph” and who that WOD is named for) and his team when they were pinned down by an overwhelming enemy force in the mountains of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie Lone Survivor, then you know the story behind this awful day.

In one of my many recurring dreams, I see myself standing on the tarmac that day next to the helicopter Mike and his fellow SEALs are getting ready to jump into. In my dream I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, “DON’T GET IN THE F**KING HELO MIKE! YOU’RE GONNA GET KILLED!” He just smiles at me (BOY he had such a mischievous and memorable smile) and says the same thing each time:

“I know man, but my buddies are in trouble and they need me.”

Mike_with_HollyThere was ZERO chance Mike was gonna quit on his teammates. He knew the danger. He knew what was waiting for them when they got on scene. And he still went anyway because he loved something greater than himself.

That’s why I don’t quit during a Hero WOD, and more importantly I don’t let YOU quit during one either. If you’re in trouble, I want to be the first there to help you. If you need me, I want to be the reason you finish. Just like my buddy Mike is there for me and his teammates.

So the next time you see “Murph,” or “Michael,” or “J.T.,” or “DT,” or any other Hero WOD programmed, I hope you come running into to do it. It’s gonna suck. It’s gonna hurt. But the pain of regret is gonna hurt even more knowing that your buddies – no, your TEAMMATES – are suffering through it and you’re not there. Hero WODs don’t end when YOU are done. They end when everybody is home, safe.


Interested in learning more about what it takes to be somebody special like my buddy Mike and his buddy Murph? Come check out our NSW Classes on Mondays and Fridays.

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