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A Thousand Miles and Then Some…

This post reminiscences my travails in the fitness routine in year 2021 – what did I start with, how did it go, how did it end and lastly what worked (or not).
In short, I ran 1001.2 miles. and lifted total of 575 lb. I also gained 20lb weight through these workouts to the end weight of 164 lb
Read on for details.

In last two years, COVID-19 has bought lot of things to stand still or has disrupted them beyond recognition. While all of us adjust to the new normal, I was fortunate enough to be able to continue my fitness routine and even build further on it!


I had a goal to improve my running pace, and also work a bit on my consistency. I was hoping to achieve that goal by improving on my functional strength. So that translated in goal of running 1000 miles and lifting total of 550 lb (Squat + Deadlift + Bench Press) by December.

Building Towards 2021 Goal

Through July – Dec 2020, I had running consistency that was not too shabby with weekly mileage right around 18-20 miles/week. I was supplementing my running workouts with strength routines which were focused on body-weight and some compound workouts (these are detailed in my earlier post). Frankly, through December 2020, the running left me exhausted and I felt the dumbbell workouts had reached a limit with all the available weight plates I had. It was time to re-evaluate my workouts and training! This was my home gym for last 7 years – it could fit nicely in a ottoman!

Home gym version 1.0

In February 2021, with gyms either closed completely or offering personal training sessions that were way more expensive than I could afford, I decided to give my home gym a face lift. I bought a basic barbell with few plates, a bench and a squat rack – all from cool folks at REP Fitness. With horse-stall mats and bit of chalk, my home gym setup was complete. It looked almost like this(except the weight horns):

Home gym version 2.0 (Image credit:

With guidance from a close friend who was itching to sweat out and restart his own weightlifting routine and few other resources such as Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition, YouTube etc. I was off to my strength training journey with barbell. So far, it has been a rewarding and totally fun experience that I am really looking forward to continue for years to come!

The year in Details

a. What worked

Starting out, I set macro goal for both running (run 1000 miles) and for strength training total of 550 lb (5 reps squat + deadlift + bench press). I broke those goals down into smaller, SMART goals. Running 1000 miles in year translated in roughly 20 miles/week. This happened to be the mileage that I have been able to handle for six months without injury and with some fuel left in the tank. In other words, weekly goal of 20 miles/week was very manageable – I consider this as a key – if the goal is unrealistic or at the top-end of your capability, there is higher chance that you may be unable to continue working towards it consistently – either due to injury or due to lack of time or due to loss of interest.
Another aspect I continued was to log every workout. Logging every single workout kept me honest, it also allowed me to track my progress. Since I am – like vast majority of the population – not a gifted Olympian athlete – my progress has never been linear. Logging my activities helped me not lose sight of end goal even after the progress saw some downs vs. ups. I used “Runkeeper” app for logging my runs, and “WorkIt” app to track strength training sessions. Both the apps offer free versions and allow you to export the workouts to CSV that helps post-processing and analysis.
Being bit of stubborn and pig-headed person, self motivation is not much of problem for me. What I lacked in though – especially for strength training – was the coaching. As I mentioned earlier, guidance from a friend, books, internet helped me learn the technique right way – consistently, without getting injured, doing a progressive overload. Achieving the trifecta in training has been essential for progress .

b. What I enjoyed

Barbell was new to me and almost intimidating until now. Once getting familiar with it though, going through linear progression has been nothing short of exhilarating. Seeing my body adapt to the stress, eating ( a lot of) real food, enjoying very real the rush of endorphins after heavy squat or deadlift session – all of these were novel experiences for me. As for the running, it was doing more of the same thing. What was new though was the grind – doing it week after week meant balancing work, family, workouts and vacations – it meant if there was a need arose I ended up running at all times of day/night – rain/shine. I also practiced planning ahead – for example, packing running shoes and pair of running shorts on road trips. As a result, I managed to run for entire year without skipping a single run – that felt totally neat!
Here is my running schedule:

Tuesday4 mileTempo
Thursday4 milesRace
Friday4 milesEasy
Sunday9 milesEasy to Tempo

And here is my strength training routine:
Monday1. Squats
2. Bench Press
3. Barbell Row
Repeat Friday's squats for 5 reps
Wednesday1. Squats
2. Deadlift
3. Overhead press
Light squats
Friday1. Squats
2. Bench Press
3. Barbell row
Heavy squats x 3

I followed Bill Starr’s 5×5 program for linear progression. The details of the program can be found here:

c. What sucked

There was one thing that I hated hands down – runner’s stomach/bladder – I found out about it more than once – the hard way. In the later part of year though, I managed to mitigate these symptoms by more careful planning, good hydration/nutrition.

d. What did not work

In first couple of months of the year, through foolishness (or hubris) that comes with ignorance, I went on long tough hikes on Saturdays – which was supposed to be rest day. The runs after that were pure sufferfest.

The Learning

  1. Planning every single workout ahead of time and logging activities afterwards (as I have been doing for all these years of running) has been essential. With planning, I knew ahead of time exactly what my workouts were going to be in that session and how I was going to execute those workouts. In other words, it helped me stay focused by removing choice out of equation
  2. Rest days are more valuable than training days and should be just that – rest days (or “slug days”) involving minimal activity, plenty of food and good hydration combined with restful sleep.
  3. Eating real food and lot of it, takes time (in preparing and in eating) but without that strength does not improve
  4. Recovery from weight lifting would not be adequate enough to realize any material gains in running pace. Especially on Fridays it used to be running in the mornings, combined with heavy squats in the evenings – I used to be destroyed by the end of evening sessions and literally dream of hot shower and bed afterwards. Alcohol was out of question! This trend became more apparent as the linear progression neared my current PRs, – if for some reason, I ended up doing light squats or light deadlifts during the week, the running pace next week would improve by almost a minute! So in hindsight, I would have adjusted the running volume and allow adequate recovery from weight training to get best of both workouts/training


Here is my running mileage

Monthly Mileage

And here are my strength training PRs
1. 200×5 squat
2. 245×5 dead lift
3. 130×5 bench press
4. 110×5 overhead press
5. 140×5 barbell row

Categories: Running.

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