• Tanner Kern

How I Literally Started Running

Updated: Apr 13

Ever since I posted the, "How I Became a Runner" blog a lot of you guys have been reaching out and asking me how I literally started running. It's definitely a fair question. When I tell people the story of my athletic journey from football to running in person I can typically see their head exploding. I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert, but when you go from a 340 pound football player to marathoner people want to figure out the big secret that made this transition possible!


Before we begin let me make this clear: I DID NOT BECOME AN OVERNIGHT MARATHONER!


For everyone thinking that transitioning into running when you really haven't run more than the middle school gym class mile is a quick process, I'm sorry to inform you that this is not the case. It probably took you at least nine months to learn how to walk as a baby so there's no reason to think running is going to come with a snap of your fingers.


Despite this, the best part about running becoming "enjoyable" like many things in life is the more work you put into it, the greater the reward you will receive!


Yes, I did just use running and enjoyable in the same sentence...DON'T FREAK OUT! If that was too distracting here's the summary: You get what you give in regard to running success!


I started running once a week in November of 2018 and somewhat consistently the next month in December (probably about 3 times per week). Oh, I almost forgot to mention when I say running, I mean a lot of walking mixed with the occasional jog. My first time heading out to the track that November I couldn't even complete a mile. The main thing to focus on here though is that I didn't give up...I dragged my butt out to the track a week later and tried again and I still couldn't run a mile! So then I thought, how am I going to make it one mile? It sure wasn't going to come by continuously running. I needed to figure something else out.


If it wasn't for my 5k two months later in January that I had already signed up for I probably would've quit during that second mile attempt, but I was cornered. I didn't want to get carried off the race course by an EMT at the "Happiest Place on Earth" aka Disney World where my race was taking place.


I did some research online and I found something called the run walk run method. It's a style trademarked by US Olympian Jeff Galloway, but it's really just the science behind interval training. So that's what I did...Intervals!


Intervals are great and I still use them on recovery days in my current training. The best part about intervals is you set the pace. If your best is a 10 minute walk followed by a 1 minute run repeated for as long as you can go that's totally fine! I started out with a couple of interval strategies: 5 minute walk/2 minute run and 2 minute walk/1 minute run depending on what I was feeling. This conditioning strategy really helped me build my cardio base and kept my spirits up because I was relieved from running every few minutes. As I got into better shape I would start transitioning the intervals where I would be running longer periods than I was walking. I would max out my interval distances at 4 miles, but would usually do around 3 per run initially and two months after my first time failing on the track, I ran 3 miles without stopping. I was filled with joy and I saw what my hard work was capable of which fueled my desire to keep growing as a runner.


Even though I could now run 3 miles without stopping, I didn't abandon intervals. That was still my main running strategy and even though I would have days where I didn't stop to walk, I kept up the interval training. In fact, my first time I ever hit a double digit distance in a run came while doing intervals so don't look down on taking walk breaks when building a cardio base. Without finding out about the Run/Walk/Run strategy I wouldn't be writing this blog today.


In the late spring of 2019 I began running without stopping frequently. I would try to build off my running distance everyday and I was typically running 4 times per week doing around 20-25 miles total. Running nonstop wasn't easy, but it wasn't something I hated anymore. I know this sounds a little cliché, but one day running just stopped being awful. Every day it became more and more enjoyable which made me want to continue running.


By doing interval training for months I built up the stamina to run without stopping, but eventually the mind has to takeover to take you to the next level. I just kept pushing myself to go longer on my runs and it kept paying off. In August of 2019, I would run my first half marathon and after that I was hooked. Running was no longer a dreadful activity, but something that was a critical part of my life.


Where I'm currently at in my running level was not quick. It was a long and arduous process, but it all started with interval training. My biggest advice for someone who wants to start running is don't make it too hard too quick. Any activity is better than nothing so if it's just a walk that's totally fine because walking is the first step to running. Push through the tough times and keep hammering away at your goal because it will pay off. I was the complete opposite of a runner as a 340 pound football player, but anything is possible with the right training and attitude.


Here's the link to the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk/Run Method: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/run-walk/


Here's a "Couch to 5k" Training program with included interval training:

https://www.typeonerun.org/couch-to-5k


If you have any questions or just want to chat about getting into running please continue to reach out by email or through social media. The response to my content has been amazing and I can't thank you all enough for the support!

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Tanner Kern is a 22 year old coach, runner, and blogger from Connecticut. He is the host of The Tanner Kern Podcast and creator of "It's a Process: A Blog About Life, Running, and Everything in Between."

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