Purdue professor to run across USA

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A big goal is best accomplished by taking small steps. If you're Bryce Carlson, it's easiest to measure those steps in miles.

“The total distance is a little over 3,000 miles,” said Carlson.

3,080 mile to be exact. As part of the Race Across the USA, he and 11 other runners will start in Los Angeles on January 16th. They hope to end up in Washington D.C. by June.

"(We'll run) a marathon a day, nearly every day for nearly 5 months,” explained Carlson.

That's 26 miles a day. 117 marathons in all.

“I enjoy finding my edges, and that involves going out and doing things that others find crazy. I find them really enriching,” said Carlson.

An associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University, he's using the running experience as a huge experiment into the psychology and physiology of endurance athletics.

“Looking at the biomechanics of running and risk for injury,” Carlson explained. “We're looking at energy balance and metabolism. How does that change over the course of the run, looking at sleep patterns.”

The runners are also hoping to inspire young people to be active. Racers are trying to shed light on the issue of childhood obesity and are supporting the 100 Mile Club, which encourages young people to walk or run at least two miles a week.

“Help kids establish a positive relationship with physical activity at a young age, make it fun,” said Carlson.

Fun for adults too, who may be looking to make a change in 2015. Instead of resolving to lose weight or go on a diet, he suggests making it positive.

“Why not make a resolution to go out and try something fun. Have more fun in the new year. Allow yourself to have more fun take more adventures. Surround yourself with people who will help enable that,” he said.

Carlson has done just that. He's finished 100 mile ultra-marathons and a 153 mile run in Greece, but nothing like what he's about to embark on.

“It's a long way. It's a long way. But you get there one step at a time, just like any journey.”

A journey in service of science. And a colossal challenge that could inspire countless others, to put one foot in front of the other.

Bryce Carlson blog

On Twitter: @bryceacarlson