About T.J. Murphy

T.J. Murphy is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. His most recent book is INSIDE THE BOX, the chronicle of a runner's swan dive into the CrossFit world.

Get Paid to CrossFit

Good story on being reported on here in Boston at the NPR affiliate. From Martha Bebinger’s piece:

Or the $5 that nudges Ben Rubin out of his desk at the start-up Change Collective to the noon workout at CrossFit Southie, in Boston.

“There’s a bunch of warm-up, we did some strength tests beforehand, and then 15 minutes of basically hell,” says Rubin in a break between deadlifts, push-ups and squats with a medicine ball.

Dropping in and out of hell pays off.

“It helps me get stronger, helps me have more energy, helps me maintain a good weight and look good,” Rubin says. 

And he takes $5 off his health insurance deductible for every 30-minute workout. Rubin has to be at a GPS-confirmed gym or connect through a device like Fitbit. If he does not exercise three times each week, Rubin will lose $5 for every workout he misses. That’s the pact Rubin signed, and offers his employees, through a company called Pact Health.

Read the full story here.

T.J. Murphy is a veteran journalist, CrossFitter, and author of the best-selling book Inside the Box: How CrossFit® Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body. Inside the Box is now available in your local bookstore, CrossFit gym, and from these online retailers. Please order Inside the Box today.Inside the Box a book about CrossFit by T.J. Murphy ITB 72dpi 400x600

Kelly Starrett to Appear at Fleet Feet Menlo Park

When: Wed Dec 3 7-9pm Where: Fleet Feet Menlo Park. 859 Santa Cruz Ave. Menlo Park CA 94025

For more info and to RSVP click here.

On Wednesday, December 3rd, NYT Bestselling author Dr. Kelly Starrett will be giving a talk on his newest book, Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally. Joining Kelly will be his co-author, T.J. Murphy, former Editorial Director of Competitor Magazine and also co-author of Unbreakable Runner (and former Fleet Feet Menlo Park staffer!)

Kelly and T.J. will get the ball rolling with a brief talk about the mission of the book, the 12 standards for being “Ready to Run”—examples include hydration, optimal hip function and  adopting habits that will undo the damage of spending too much time in an office chair—all prerequisites for reducing injury risk and getting the most out of your running potential.

But we’ll quickly turn the presentation over to those who come to visit, allowing visitors to have an opportunity to ask questions in regards to their running health, mobility and performance.

Dr. Kelly Starrett is the author of the The New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Becoming A Supple Leopard, which has revolutionized how coaches, athletes and every day humans approach performance as it relates to movement, mechanics, and the actualization of human and athletic potential. Dr. Starrett is also the co-founder of San Francisco Crossfit and MobilityWOD.com, where he shares his innovative approach to movement, mechanics, and mobility with millions of coaches and athletes around the world. Kelly travels the world teaching his wildly popular Crossfit Movement & Mobility Course and also works with elite Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard forces, athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and national and world ranked strength and power athletes. He also consults with Olympic teams and universities and is a featured speaker at strength and conditioning conferences nationwide. Kelly believes every human being should know how to move and be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.

T.J. Murphy, over the course of a 20-year career, has established himself as one of the endurance world’s most prolific writers. Among his many roles as a magazine editor, he has served as Editor-in-Chief of both Triathlete Magazine and Inside Triathlon, and Editorial Director of Competitor Magazine. His endurance journalism has also appeared in Outside Magazine and Runner’s World, but in 2012 Murphy gave things a twist when he chronicled his personal odyssey into strength, conditioning and mobility with the seminal work,  Inside The Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body.



Where: Fleet Feet Menlo Park

The Long Run

A story I recently wrote to help clarify how CrossFit can be a useful part of the toolbox for lifelong runners.

Unbreakable Runner: CrossFit Endurance for Running

In a recent article posted on Active by my former colleague, star author and longtime friend, Matt Fitzgerald, Matt takes up the issue of injury prevention for runners, using an initial mention of Unbreakable Runner to make his point.

He writes, “In their book, MacKenzie and Murphy take it as a given that runners who run more get injured more. However, recent research suggests the opposite is true.”

The first study Fitzgerald cites was a web survey of 668 marathon finishers. Sixty-eight of the respondents reported an injury that hindered their training for at least two weeks. From the data, researchers concluded that runners should put in no less than 18 miles per week before a marathon “to reduce their risk of running-related injury.”

Fitzgerald also refers to a 2014 study that looked at 517 runners with a 9-month follow-up. Researchers focused on overall mileage, speed and frequency of runs…

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Why Squats are Good For Runners

Unbreakable Runner: CrossFit Endurance for Running

Two examples of how CrossFit Endurance can produce runners who are into high-performance and injury resistance: Valerie Hunt (left) and Jennifer Yeargain Fisher. Two examples of how CrossFit Endurance can produce runners who are into high-performance and injury resistance: Valerie Hunt (left) and Jennifer Yeargain Fisher, both from Austin, Texas.

Last year, Runner’s World put forward the following questions to explore:

Is CrossFit a good supplement to running? A replacement for running? A small study conducted in Alabama provides some useful real-world information on what happens physiologically during a CrossFit workout.

In the article, Scott Douglas discusses an ACSM study conducted with nine subjects performing a CrossFit workout known as “Cindy”: It’s a 20-minute AMRAP—As Many Rounds As Possible—of the following circuit: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 bodyweight squats (also called air squats).

It’s a quick read—378 words—and comes to the following conclusions:

This study suggests that this CrossFit workout gives reasonably fit adults who are accustomed to that mode of training a decent 20-minute workout. That’s not the same, however…

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Minimalistic Shoes and Restoring Your Feet

From Lava Magazine.

Are Minimalistic Shoes a Sham?

by T.J. Murphy

Using progressive exposure to usage of minimalistic shoes, this runner reclaimed arches and better mechanics.

Using progressive exposure to usage of minimalistic shoes, this runner reclaimed arches and better mechanics.

Was the Vibram verdict wrong? Two doctors say that flat, minimalistic shoes can bring your feet back to life in a natural, omnipotent way.

Is the minimalistic shoe dead? It seems to be a popular headline these days, particularly since Vibram USA, the company that makes the five-fingered super-minimal shoes, lost in a class-action lawsuit this past May to the tune of $3.75 million. When the news of the settlement hit, I read various Facebook posts on how this was finally the coffin door slamming shut on minimalism.

The lawsuit suggested Vibram made false marketing claims in regard to strengthening the feet and rewarding the user health and injury-prevention benefits.

The court case was a flashpoint in the running-shoe-store narrative that has become common over the last few years. Here’s how it usually goes down: A runner or triathlete reads Born To Run, and becomes inspired by Barefoot Ted and the Tarahumara Indians portrayed in Christopher McDougall’s bestselling running-thriller. Fired up, the runner chucks his dual-density-EVA running shoes—with the stiff heel counter and a “stability” bridge baked into the arch of the shoe—and buys a pair of Vibrams, Nike Frees or Inov-8s, ostensibly moving from a 12mm heel-to-toe drop in their shoes to a 3mm drop or even zero drop heel-to-toe differential. And zap! Their Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, and a sidelining injury is introduced before the shoes are even broken in.

The Vibram lawsuit seemed to be thunder strike of angst from runners and triathletes who suffered this kind of outcome during their minimalist foray.

Is it true though? Are minimalist shoes a sham?

There’s at least one runner/podiatrist who doesn’t think so. Dr. Nick Campitelli fiercely believes that a slow transition to a minimalistic shoe will do the exact sort of thing that Vibram was accused of falsely suggesting: Strengthen the foot. According to Campitelli, a long-term transition from a motion-control or stability shoe to a flat, bare-minimum shoe will unleash the powers of the human foot and erase the various atrophies that may have occurred from years of wearing shoes that act like a cast on the foot.

Read more at Lava Magazine.

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement


(Originally published on Stack.com)

In the late 1980s, some of the first field tests of high-grade fish oil supplements took place with athletes in California. Dr. Barry Sears, Ph.D, a former staff scientist at MIT and a medical researcher specializing in the hormonal effects of food and the prevention of cardiovascular disease, worked with Garrett Giemont, then the strength coach for the Los Angeles Rams, and Skip Kenney and Richard Quick, who coached the swim teams at Stanford University.

Sears reviewed biochemistry studies performed by Sune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane that earned the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1982. The Swedish scientists had explored the powerful physiological effects of inflammation and the role in the immune system of certain eicosanoids known as prostaglandins, which are considered an “autocrine” type of hormone. Rather than being produced by and released from specific sites in the body—like the pancreas—prostaglandins are produced within cells throughout the body.

“Think of eicosanoids as your biological Internet,” Sears says. Like a signaling crew of the central nervous system, they exert extraordinary influence in regard to cellular inflammation.

The upshot for the competitive athlete? Lower levels of inflammation mean increased blood flow, enabling more oxygen transfer. Recovery times improve, endurance improves and health increases. Sears’s first field experiments were conducted circa 1990, but more recent research supports his conclusions. Studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the European Journal of Applied Physiology report that fish oil supplementation increases blood flow up to 36 percent during exercise and lowers the levels of inflammatory markers.

In his early work with the Los Angeles Rams and the Stanford swim team, Sears studied how taking long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., the good stuff in fish oil) might help athletes by “modulating” eicosonoids. In other words, Sears believed that fish oil would help the athletes reduce their cellular inflammation levels.

As Sears communicated to Giemont, Kenney and Quick, a reduction in cellular inflammation should lead to a slew of performance benefits, including strength gains, more endurance, less pain and speedier recovery.

During his early work with the Stanford athletes, Sears said he found a crucial lever necessary to achieve the hormonal control intended with fish oil supplementation—diet. For example, swimmers with exceptionally high carbohydrate intake levels, which spiked insulin, did not achieve consistent results from the fish oil.

“I went into the bowels of the MIT library and found the data that showed us what was going on,” Sears said. “If you have high levels of insulin, you’ll drive the anti-inflammatory eicosanoids into becoming inflammatory. So unless I controlled the diet I would not be able to control inflammation.”

Thus, in combination with fish oil supplementation, Sears advised athletes to eat a moderate level of carbohydrates balanced by moderate amounts of protein and fat. As he reported in his book, The Omega RX Zone, the football players, accustomed to eating more meat and protein, were generally more open to this diet than the swimmers. As reported in 1993 by Swim magazine, the Stanford swimmers who took fish oil supplements and followed a diet with moderate (as opposed to high) carb intake accounted for seven gold medals in the 1992 Olympics. From Kenney and Quick’s point of view, the diet and fish oil made a critical difference for their athletes.

Also affirming the potent effects of fish oil was Doug Smith, a six-time Pro-Bowl offensive lineman for the Rams, who reportedly told Garrett, “Coach, I’ve got to quit taking this stuff, because I am getting stronger in the middle of the season, and that just doesn’t happen.” Assured that the fish oil supplements contained no PEDs, just omega-3 fatty acids, Smith continued the regimen.

Sears has worked with world-class athletes ever since, including swimmer Dara Torres, who won two gold medals in 2000 at the age of 34 and three silver medals at the 2008 Olympics at 41. More recently, Sears advised Team Cervélo, a UCI Tour de France cycling squad, which had implemented an aggressive anti-doping program, on anti-inflammation protocols.

“When you’re talking about an endurance event, whether it’s the Ironman, an ultramarathon or the Tour de France, it’s about who can produce the most energy,” Sears says.

Fish Oil Rules

The following are Dr. Sears’s pointers for athletes wishing to increase their performance and recovery through fish oil supplementation.

1. Control your insulin. Make sure each meal and each snack has moderate amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Excessively high carbohydrate concentrations—like what you get if you eat a massive bowl of pasta—will spike your insulin level and raise your cellular inflammation level. Moderation is the key word. “It’s basically your grandmother’s diet,” says Dr. Sears.

2. Get a fasting cholesterol blood test to determine how much fish oil to take. Look at your triglyceride/HDL ratio. HDL is the so-called “good cholesterol.” In adults, this ratio should be less than 2. Per Sears’s protocol, if the TG/HDL ratio is less than 2, supplement with 2.5 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids each day; if the ratio is higher than 2, supplement with five grams of good fish oil for 30 days, then reduce the dosage to 2.5 grams per day.

3. Supplement with 10 mg of GLA per day. GLA is gamma linolenic acid. Sears says that supplementing with fish oil can decrease natural production of GLA, an important building block for the production of “good” eicosanoids. Another way to make up for the deficit is to eat 2 bowls of slow-cooked oatmeal every week.

4. Check the TG/HDL ratio every six months. The goal, Dr. Sears says, is to keep this ratio between 1 and 2 for optimal inflammation modulation.

5. Use high-grade fish oil. Do your research when selecting fish oil. Poorly filtered fish oil may contain contaminants like PCBs. Dr. Sears suggests the following criteria, which he defines as “Weapons Grade” fish oil:

Total long-chain omega-3 should be more than 60 percent of total fatty acids
Mercury = less than 10 parts per billion
PCBs = less than 5 parts per billion
Dioxins = less than 1 part per trillion

T.J. Murphy is a veteran journalist, CrossFitter, and author of the best-selling CrossFit book Inside the Box: How CrossFit® Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body. Inside the Box is now available in your local bookstore, CrossFit gym, and from these online retailers. Please order Inside the Box today.Inside the Box a book about CrossFit by T.J. Murphy ITB 72dpi 400x600