Running comes naturally to humans; it’s in our DNA. However, the extent to which 47-year-old Marble Falls resident Brad Quinn runs might seem a little unnatural.
In April, he logged a marathon distance of 26.2 miles for the 400th day in a row. His original goal was only 100 straight days.
It wasn’t the first time the physical therapist, race director, and family man attempted such a feat.
In 2015, he was inspired by a friend who ran 100 marathons in 100 days and decided to give it a go.
Quinn is not a casual runner. He’s logged many ultramarathons — trail runs extending past the 26.2-mile mark — and he and wife Nyla started the Capt’n Karl’s Night Trail Run series in 2006.
But 100 marathons in 100 days was a big challenge. The then-41-year-old plugged away until the 51st day, when an injury got the better of him.
He went back to his normal routine — taking care of his family and organizing races through Tejas Trails — but his running dropped off.
“Over the last five years, I had really focused on the Capt’n Karl’s series and got away from my own running,” he said.
After a summer race series in 2018, he begin building his weekly distances to about 100 miles, 14-15 miles a day. Over 24 weeks, he had logged 2,500 miles.
And it felt good.
In March 2019, after the Tinajas Ultra at Colorado Bend State Park, inspiration struck again.
“The Monday after the race I thought, ‘Why not give it go?’” Quinn said. “One hundred marathons in 100 days.”
And off he went.
Quinn had two simple rules: He couldn’t start his daily running before 3 a.m. and he had to wrap it up by 3 a.m. the next day.
When he could run 26.2 miles straight in a day, he would, but on other days, he broke the mileage up into more manageable chunks, squeezing in 10-15 miles at once, picking up another 3-4 miles while his kids were at soccer practice, and sneaking in a few more miles in a loop near his home.
“… I think how I did it shows (that) for big goals, you just have to break them off in chunks,” Quinn said. “Instead of looking at the whole big thing, break it up into smaller pieces and, you know, do those smaller parts. That’s something you can do with any goal, not just running.”
He kept his shoes in his car so he could run anytime the opportunity arose, and day after day, he logged his marathon mileage.
Some of the hardest days to meet the goal were when he was organizing Tejas Trails races such as the Capt’n Karl’s series, which is held at night during the summer.
“I would go out and run for four or five hours the days before the race, then mark the trails for the race,” Quinn said. “On the day of the race, I’d get up at 6 a.m. and run my marathon, then get to the race.”
After a race wrapped at about 7 a.m., he packed up everything and slipped away to run his own marathon.
When he finally reached the 100-day mark, he kept going.
“Well, let’s see where it goes,” he recalled about that day.
On April 16, 2020, Quinn finally called it. He had gone the distance for 400 days in a row, about 10,700 miles total. That’s more than 3½ times the distance from Los Angeles to New York City.
He struggled on some days, dealing with two physical issues: plantar fasciitis and neck pain. The plantar fasciitis popped up around Day 140. The issue was his shoes.
“Usually, shoes should be replaced every 300 miles,” he said. “At that rate, I’d have to replace them every two weeks, and shoes are expensive.”
So how could he go 400 days at age 47 but only 50 days at age 41?
“The big difference between 41 and 47 is I went to a totally plant-based diet,” he said. “No meat, milk, or cheese. And it’s made a big difference in so many ways.”
His ability to recover is better now, and he’s noticed less inflammation after running since changing his diet.
The daily running also helped him mentally.
“It really helped me be more present,” he said. “It also helped me during this pandemic.”
You don’t have to run 26.2 miles a day for the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, he said. You don’t even have to run, just walk.
The key to getting started is just that: to start. Rid yourself of any barriers to the activities you enjoy, Quinn recommended. If you want to run or walk, make sure your shoes are close by. And don’t spend days researching and planning.
“It’s paralysis by analysis,” Quinn said. “Those things are really an impediment to getting out there and doing the things you want. Do some preparation and learn about what you want, but you need to get out there and do it.”