McRunner: Training for Marathon, Eating Only McDonald's

Drive-thru runner gives Morgan Spurlock a run for his calories

In 2004, Morgan Spurlock proved one could survive, albeit badly, on a 30-day all-McDonald’s-diet. Now, runner Joe D'Amico is upping the ante by adopting the same meal plan, while adding a marathon to the mix. As if all those fat and calories weren’t punishing enough.

Since February 17, D’Amico has been eating nothing but McDonald’s as he trains for the Los Angeles Marathon on March 20. McRunner, as he has dubbed himself, runs nearly 100 miles a week, fueled by nothing but foods like Filets-O-Fish and Egg McMuffins. The exceptions: PowerBar Energy Gel, a multivitamin, ibuprofen and water not purchased at McDonald’s.

Whereas Spurlock sought out the worst stuff on the menu, D’Amico is steering clear of some of the junkiest menu items like large French fries, Big Macs and McRibs. Still, one wouldn’t call his choices healthful. It is McDonald’s, after all, and D’Amico clearly has a big sweet tooth, chowing down daily on cookies, parfaits or sundaes, and washing it all back with sodas by the bucket.

Not that McRunner was ever a health nut. By D’Amico’s estimations, his diet prior to the McDonald’s project wasn’t too much better; his daily rotation included pancakes for breakfast and a couple of candy bars as snacks.

This won’t be his first marathon -- he has run 14 since 1998. His best finishing time is 2:36:54, set last year at the Twin Cities Marathon. Despite his training diet, D’Amico has high hopes that he will still finish the Los Angeles Marathon in record time. 

No word on whether he’ll be carb-loading before the race on McDonald’s hotcakes instead of spaghetti.

D’Amico’s adventure reminds me of the early training habits of Dean Karnazes, the ultra-endurance runner who wrote the best-selling memoir Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. Not surprisingly, McRunner’s blog tagline is Confessions of a Drive-Thru Runner. In his 30s, Karnazes would run through the night (if you couldn’t tell from the title of his book), making pit stops at the drive-thru windows of late-night fast-food restaurants. Karnazes, who might run 50 miles in one go, consumed entire pizzas, cheesecakes and whatever other calorie-dense foods he could get his hands on. Now that he’s older and wiser, Karnazes has drastically changed his ways, opting for power-workout foods like salmon, salads and veggies. I wonder how long it will take the McRunner to change his.

I have no doubt that D’Amico will cross the finish line on March 20, proving, yet again, that McDonald’s won’t kill you in 30 days. The question is, how healthy is it in the long run? 

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