Friday, March 18, 2011

McRunner

Question:

Is it possible to eat this - 20 hamburgers, 20 Chicken Snack Wraps, 75 hotcakes and 55 cookies – and run a sub-2:36 marathon in Los Angeles on Sunday?mcrunner

To his credit, Joe D’Amico didn’t eat it all at once. However, he made a commitment on his blog, Confessions of a Drive Thru Runner, to eat only McDonald’s food for the 30 days prior to running the race.

Facts:

Age: 36

Weight: 140 pounds

Height: 6 feet

Marathon PR: 2:36 (2010 – Twin Cities)

Number of marathons run: 14

First marathon: Chicago – 1998 – 4:16

Cross training/strength training: None, ever

Miles run per week in training: 100

Miles run in the last 27 days: 330

Reason for eating crap for 30 days: Raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charity

Money raised to date: $16,000

Total visits to McDonald’s over last 27 days: 84

Number of fans on Facebook: 12,000

Exceptions to eating McDonald’s foods: non-McD’s water, gels, multivitamin, ibuprofen

Number of craps taken: Info not available

Most surprising quote: “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Most shocking  medical info received from his doctor (posted on his blog yesterday):

mcdonalds

 

Yesterday I wrote about breaking the rules. This dude takes it to a new level. He is essentially the anti-marathon fueler, breaking every rule imaginable. For those of us who gasp when we hear that someone went to the drive thru pre- or post-long run, D’Amico makes us wheeze, wet ourselves and pass out.

What do you make of this? If you saw the movie Super Size Me (2004), you know that Morgan Spurlock took on a similar 30-day challenge of only eating McDonald’s food. Granted he was not training for a marathon, but he gained 25 pounds, had heart palpitations, lost his sex drive and was energy-depleted. Yes, Spurlock’s choices were heavier on the calories and the sugar than D’Amicos and he did not exercise.

If you look at D’Amicos food diary from the past 27 days, you see that he made the healthiest choices possible, for the most part, when visiting McDonalds. Maybe this makes a difference.

I am still scratching my head as to how he can eat this crap, feel so good, perform so well and actually have his blood work look better. Even with smart selections,  isn’t it still inherently bad for you?

His choices are all relatively low fat, low calorie, yet high carb.  So, when you hear he “ate McD’s for 30 days and ran a great marathon,” keep in mind he wasn’t gorging on fries and Big Macs. And, let’s hope that D’Amico’s message doesn’t prompt the already overweight and unhealthy majority of America to think they can eat their way healthy by frequenting the drive thru.

I personally think this guy is a freak of nature. Most people cannot tolerate 100 mile weeks, no cross training, let alone 84 trips to McD’s. Most people will also never go from running a 4:16 marathon to a 2:36 marathon in 13 years or a lifetime. There are always exceptions to the norm, and he is one of them. It makes for an interesting story, but I’m not going to follow his lead. Except for the 2:36 marathon part. I could SO do that.

Are we all too uptight about our food choices or is this guy sending the wrong message? Thoughts?

D’Amico did comment on this post. See comment #31.

SUAR

63 comments:

  1. I posted about this guy last week. I think this is one of the biggest publicity stunts I have heard about in a while. People hear "McRunner" and picture him eating three quarter pounders and orders of fries a day, but when you look at his food journal he really isn't eating all that badly. I do think it is going to send the wrong message to a lot of people though that this guy is in awesome shape, will probably run a great race and then will advertise that he did so by only eating McD's for a month...

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  2. Once in a while I allow myself a McD's Filet-o-Fish (nom nom nom nom) and then feel like absolute shit for the next 24 hours.

    I don't know how he is doing this.

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  3. I think you can make good choices at McD's that being said I won't eat there myself. I have a laundry list of reasons..

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  4. I am sure he could eat anything and run a fast marathon - it is kind of a silly event. He is already a fast marathoner.

    But, good for him. Nothing wrong with charity.

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  5. Uptight... to a point.

    I plan on eating double cheeseburgers on all my long bike sessions this summer. There is a mcdonalds at every corner AND, their burgers don't spoil, so you can leave them in your jersey while on the bike for 6hrs. High calories, small amount of food. Genius.

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  6. I read about this last week and it just kind of blew my mind. I don't eat at McDonalds...I think it's gross actually. What I worry about is that people will see his blog and read his stats and think, "Hey, if you can eat that and run a super fast marathon too, then the food must not be that bad for me." What EVERYONE needs to realize is that he is different than the regular person. He is already super fit and made the most healthy options he could at McD's. Most people don't do that.
    I think it's cool that he was able to raise money for the charity, but really, the charity has little to do with the actual McDonald's rest. and I think he could have raised the money w/o the whole food thing.

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  7. I'm with Mamarunsbarefoot... possible "healthy" choices, laundry list of reasons why I won't eat there.

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  8. I say everyone is too uptight. I regularly eat food from various drive thrus and has never had any negative effects. I'm healthy with weight, cholesterol and blood pressure all excellent. Maybe some individuals will just have negative effects easier than others.

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  9. Wow that's crazy! But I have to admit that he is doing it for a good cause, so you can't hate on him completely!

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  10. So here goes my thoughts.....TOTAL NONSENSE.....

    The guy is already in good shape and training for a marathon and only doing this for 30 days.....WRONG MESSAGE to the public who is not in great shape, training for a marathon and not doing it only for 30 days.

    Morgan Spurlock is more on the money with a sedentary life and showing the effects of eating at McD's for 30 days straight because the general public is eating Double Cheeseburgers with the X-Large Fries and Super Size DIET COKE (give me a break!)

    The notion that he can still have great blood work is not that surprising b/c his choices of 'healthy' food is not terrible and he is running/training for a marathon.

    Let's discuss the idea of burning ~100 calories per mile. He goes on a 20 mile training run and he burns 2000 calories. Add another 2000 calories for metabolic resting burn and he can consume 4000 calories that day and be fine. If his choices amount to 3000 then he is actually in a negative calorie state. That obviously doesn't go to the sodium factor but it will show up eventually if he doesn't continue to train/run.

    OUCH....ugh I just fell off my soapbox....

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  11. meh. i read about him recently and i just had to roll my eyes. i think that it's being done for shock value. that said, i am curious as to how he does this weekend

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  12. He is my kind of runner ;) I'm a fast food junkie so anyone that can eat like and still runs gives me hope. ;)

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  13. Where are the fruits and vegetables!?!?!? (A side salad at McDonald's and orange juice does NOT count). Ahhh... my body would just shut down.

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  14. Honestly I don't think many runners would end up changing their diet because of seeing this guy, so I don't really worry about him sending a wrong message. For non-runners, they probably think he is crazy for being a marathon runner more so than eating McD's every meal! At least he is raising money for a good cause.

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  15. I'm kind of surprised to see the results from the dr.

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  16. I don't know how this guy can motivate to run after eating at McD's. If I get something to eat from there when I take my kids, I resemble a grizzly emerging from hibernation for the rest of the day. Lots of lumbering and slow, gutteral sounds. Exercise isn't even in the same zip code as my brain.

    I guess one lesson is that during a training cycle, an occasional trip for less-than-stellar healthy food options is not going to send the train off the tracks. However, if I were going to pick where to load up on calories/fat, I could come up with some better bad-for-me fare than McDonalds.

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  17. Yeah, he was very selective about what he ate. He didn't do the super-size like Spurlock did. He didn't eat everything on the menu at least once. He also is taking a multivitamin, which Spurlock did not. Given that the nutritional value of McD's is about zero, the vitamin was probably necessary. I'm surprised he didn't show blood pressure and glucose test data though.

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  18. I've been following along somewhat - pretty crazy!!! He has gotten creative with what McD's has to offer in order to create a somewhat healthy diet... still, this is such a crazy endeavor! Will be interesting to see how he performs, but surprisingly there do not seem to be any negative effects so far!

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  19. The answer, I think, is both: we're too uptight AND that guy's sending the wrong message. When I was his same age, height, weight and marathon time (give or take), I ate an entire 24 inch frozen pizza after every morning run and downed it with Coke. When you're young and superfit, you can get away with a lot that you can't otherwise. Today, I'm slower and heavier, and I eat much healthier, but eating healthier isn't the cause of being slower and heavier.

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  20. I like that he is doing this for RM House BUT as others have said, this is the wrong message to the general public who don't run 100 miles a week and make the healthiest choices at McD's.

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  21. I have actually seen this before with ultra-runners. I think running makes the body incredibly efficient, and when you run that fast it will take whatever you give it. There was a girl in that "Born to Run" book who ran the Leadville 100 eating cold pizza and drinking Mountain Dew, and some of the skinniest people I know eat high carb crap foot all the time, and are actually really healthy. I also knew a martial artist who ate a minimum of 6K calories a day to keep his weight up because his daily workouts were 8 hours long. He would go to Mickey D's and eat 6 cheeseburgers. It comes down to calories in/calories out.

    However, this only works if you are expending enormous amounts of energy on a daily basis. And honestly, this guy's cholesterol is not GREAT, just OK. He would probably do better with better food.

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  22. I think he is trying to draw attention to his charity and himself. People have done it since the beginning of time. I mean come on we all know about Eve and the apple, no one does outragous things to keep them to them selves.

    Is his message a good one? Well, it depends. Do you want to see a good message then he raised money for a good cause, he improved his numbers while mantaining his cardo fitness and he probably saved a few buck because McDs is cheap. A bad message? Well, that's in there too. He showed that you can eat McDs every day and improve your numbers. People who want to think that means they can eat anything from McDs and do that will assume they can. People on limited income who rely on less expensive food will think it's not so bad to take the kids to McDs and few times a week. That McRunner guy went multiple times a day.
    I think he did what he set out to do. Draw attention.
    ...boy am I craving for some fries right now! ;-)

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  23. I don't think he's trying to set any kind of example - rather, he's trying to raise money for a charity while conducting a personal experiment. And he's raising a TON of money for a great cause. And I say, good for him!

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  24. I can't believe that his stats improved. I really don't know what to think because I eat way too much candy but I do eat a lot of NUTRIENT DENSE foods too. I think it is awesome he is raising so much money and I hope for his next marathon he does a crazy healthy fueling challenge to raise money, it would be amazing to see what he could do with the proper fueling!

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  25. I actually think what this guy is doing actually what was intended, and when you think about it in the following perspective, it makes perfect sense:

    He's getting people to talk about the purpose of a charity which does FABULOUS work (whether you like McDonalds or not) and the premise is simply genius. He's getting attention for a cause.

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  26. But isn't the message to raise awareness and money for the charity and not about his food choices?

    Sure, eating only McDonald's and training for a marathon gets attention, but he's doing it for a cause and not to send a message that it's the right thing to do.

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  27. Paula - I agree, but it doesn't so much matter what HE says he is doing, people might pay attention to his actions. Eat McDonalds, your med stats improve and you run fast. That is really the focus of his blog. The money seems to be a sidenote and bonus.

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  28. I like that he demonstrated that wherever you are, there is ALWAYS a choice you can make to be better, eat healthier. So many people use the excuse of not having time, McD's being the "only thing avaialble", the quickest, fastst thing, blah blah. It just doesn't have to be that way.

    Plus, having just spent three weeks in the oncology unit with a 4 yr old, god bless the Ronald McDonald House.

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  29. I think that there are people who will use him as an excuse to justify eating at McDonalds, but don't you think they were already justifying it anyway? I can think of some professional sports players who are not great role models (in my opinion). At least this guy exercises regularly and is raising money for a good cause.

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  30. It's cool that he's raising money for the Ronald McDonald charity, but McDonald's doesn't need runners promoting the crap they're dishing out. To each his own. Personally, I wouldn't feel right aboout glamorizing the fast food industry when our nation is suffering from preventable diseases often attributed to obesity.

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  31. Wanted to say I appreciate the thoughtful discussion of my McRunner Challenge. I will add that I am not a freak of nature! My first three marathons averaged about 4:00. It was with a lot of hard work that I have been able to achieve my recent times (2:47 RNRAZ 2009, 2:44 Boston 2010, 2:36:54 Twin Cities 2011). FWIW I was injured after Rock and Roll Arizona, and missed about 4 months of training -- I am not a freak! ; )

    My recent success is also a function of having great runners around me. My club has helped bring me to a place I never thought possible. Throughout my journey I have kept an open mind and tried to take in all the information possible, and tried to make choices that would help me become the best marathoner possible. Add to this an amazing wife and family, and I found my own recipe for success.

    Thanks, Joe

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  32. While I think it's great that this guy is doing this for a good cause, I am not crazy about the message he may be sending. Personally, I just don't want to support McD's for a whole host of reasons (mostly because I believe our society has to change their entire mindset on food, and the new mindset I envision does NOT include McDonald's). I get the gimmick, I just wish there were another way to go about it. Kick a#* marathon times though...

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  33. You've got a deal on the McD's for tights. The challenge is how do I get a pic in the tights without revealing my superhero identity? Once I put them on I have no choice but to combine running with fighting crime and speaking in a gravelly voice. It was in the fine print.

    As for the design on the back of the PI shirt - not only does it look good, but it matches my tramp stamp. What are the odds?

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  34. Like I've been saying. Your body can handle a whole lot of crap non-food, but the minute you stop exercising it's going to get fat. This doesn't surprise me much.

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  35. Next up? The Donut Hole Ultra! Count me in.

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  36. I guess my question is Why? Why do that? So you can say that you did, I guess. Lame.

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  37. There are ways to do things right and ways to do things wrong. Obviously, by his choices, he is doing things right. The upside is that if you make the effort you can eat healthy "on the run" - the downside is the idiots who don't have all the facts and will assume McD's is healthy across the board.

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  38. this is crazy, I bet his body just a machine. I think it might effect him in the long run, like when he's 60! I am with you, freak of nature! My body would be rotten by now, haha.
    LC

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  39. Pshaw, I could TOTALLY do a 2:36 marathon..

    in a car!

    WTF BBQ?

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  40. He's doing it for a good cause. Great. Go for it.
    Everyone is different, some blessed in different ways than others.

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  41. I like this guy! Way to go for raising money. I don't think most American's are going to go eat McDonalds because of this, I mean, you have to be pretty stupid to do that.

    I think Americans in general are obsessed with food right now: raw food diets, chia seeds, it is crazy and we have no evidence that these diets have benefits in the long run. Look at the french with their high fat and high carb diets!

    With regard to his ability to improve his marathon and nrs on his blood tests: 1) I like Mcdonald's salads and grilled chicken sandwiches, so if he did mostly these and OJ, all is good; 2) 100 miles/week are going to lower anyone's cholesterol and TG. Could he run better on a healthier diet? Maybe, maybe not. Bill Rodgers is famous about his mayo diet (his fav food was peanut butter, jelly and mayo on wonder bread) and he was one of the fastest marathoners.

    I personally think that this focus on foods that are good or bad is making this society more and more food obsessed and obese. Other societies who don't have this way of thinking are slimmer and healthier in the long run. No food is "bad", it is all about moderation.

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  42. R & L - you make some great points. Thanks. we do tend to get obsessed and black/white and forget that all in moderatin is okay.

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  43. Humans have evoked to suck the nutrition out of just about anything. His experiment is only a only a month after all. That plan does not sound sustainable for the long term. Just because you couldn't pay me enough to eat at McD's doesn't mean I have a problem with other people eating it. Free country and all that. As for the message, it's just a gimmick and will be forgotten next week.

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  44. Absolutely love the cause. Love how real people will benefit from a simple idea and huge goal. Really love the fact that McRunner is just your average "Joe" that has put in lots of hard work to work from 4:00+ marathon in 1998 to a 2:36 in 2010. Keep trucking McRunner or as another great runner says: Giddie up!!!!

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  45. I too am floored McRunner's numbers decreased following this diet?! I viewed Supersize Me and felt nauseous watching it.

    However, running 330 miles in while on this challenge, probably helped a teensy bit! I'll be curious to see if his pre-race meal sits okay?

    He doesn't have to eat McD's during the mary, does he?!

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  46. I am not "lovin it" (the diet) However...I think the guy personally seems pretty realistic and his comment on this post is genuine and pretty awesome really. :)

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  47. ok the raising money part for a good cause of course it is great.

    the way he is doing it, not so great. I do think he is sending the wrong message. there is a huge problem in this country with childhood obesity and he is kind of saying to the young ones, it is ok to eat this everyday. it is not ok. "WRONG MESSAGE to the public who is not in great shape, training for a marathon and not doing it only for 30 days." I agree with Jason on this. The focus is more on him eating this crap and still have great numbers. Let's see the numbers for this same guy while he is NOT training. most people are not traiing for a marathon..heck most are not training for anything.

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  48. Where can i sign up? I've been trying to kick my Mac D habit for months. This makes me feel a little better. But does this mean i have to run 100 miles a week for a Big mac??

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  49. My best "prerace" food is an egg mcmuffin and a coke. Maybe I should step up to a Big Mac?

    I'll bet his farts smell something awful!

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  50. Super cool of him to post a comment to your blog. After watching SuperSize Me I always thought that McD should have someone take on the challenge of eating nothing but McD for 30 days eating the healthy choices off of their menu...and it looks like essentially that is what this guy did. I am not a fan of fast food, and I think Americans eat too much of it, but I personally found Super Size Me to be biased and unfair to McD. Just my opinion.

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  51. I enjoyed your post about this guy. I've been following his blog, but refuse to LIKE him on FB because I don't support the way he's doing this. I think it's sending the wrong message and fear others will follow his lead. I first noticed him when Runner's World featured him on FB a week or two ago. At that time, he only had 2000 friends on FB. Now the guy has over 20,000. Don't get me wrong, the fundraising is fantastic, but aren't we sending the wrong message by saying the food is okay to eat and train with?? McD's is disgusting, for so many different reasons.

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  52. Reading that post moved me to the response I felt after watching "SuperSize Me"--I wanted an f-ing McDonald's Burger and Fries. I was equally attracted to the food and grossed out, but that's the point of fast food, eh? Anyway, I think the guy is not a freak of nature, but I think there's something to not being stressed out about food. Yeah, I have my organic garden going, and totally into buying local, and will often drive miles to go to stores I can stand (I live in rural Alabama, where Walmart really is the only option!!) All that to say, I'm in MUCH better health since I stopped freaking out over food . . . but I still get really really irked at the undemocratic nature of food distribution (just go to stores in a urban/poor or rural/poor community and you'll know why) and the choices that are limited by where we live. I know this is a charged discussion, and one I'm passionate about. Compared to the rest of the world, we are such spoiled brats in our healthy/unhealthy choices.

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  53. I did not realize he was doing it for charity. My first thought when I heard the story was 'publicity stunt'

    I don't get how he can eat all of that McDonald's food and still feel good enough to train for a marathon.

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  54. I cant WAIT to see how he runs!!!!! :)

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  55. The guy is brilliant! If McDonald's were to take on this campaign globally the guy could be a millionaire! Fast food has been looking for a guy like this for years. The hard part is picking the healthy choice...if they provide it as an option...Micky D's is sitting pretty and it's no longer the industries fault that America is over weight! Great concept....Gutsy Move! Good luck in the run, he'll do great, it's in his head! SM

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  56. I'm not so sure I am a fan of this project. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the charity part of it. But, he is also sending a message that McDonald's food is generally okay - not a great message to today's overweight youth. Yes there have healthy choices, but that fact gets lost in the overall message.

    Of course people have a choice to go or not go to McD's, but I'm not sure I would pic this company to garner so much publicity.

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  57. You might check out the movie "Fat Head." This McRunner isn't the only one to experience lower cholesterol and increased health by eating fast food. Weird, I know - but I think Super Size Me was a fraud.

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  58. Why does everything have to be about "messages" Oh this guy is totally sending out the wrong message now hoards of track teams are gong to frequent McDonald's before their meets to fuel their PR's give me a break. We are all adults here I'm sure as hell not going to start frequenting McDonald's everyday because this guy did it. I think maybe we can look at this in a more positive way. First of all this guy is raising money for a great charity, (way to go) second he is showing you can make responsible food choices at McDonald's. Third he doesn't take himself too seriously. I mean let's be honest McDonald's isn't going anywhere any time soon. It's going to be around for a long time offering the same food. If anything he is highlighting the healthy choices you can make at such a place.

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  59. First of all, it is the persons responsibility to make choices. It isn't McDonald's responsibility to make choices for people. If people wanted healthy food, they would have it, but people don't. McDonald's doesn't dictate what people eat, they have menu choices that sell. Second, How would you go about raising money for YOUR charity? I bet a lot of you that are so critical haven't raised money for any charities. Third, why are you surprised that his LDL, and triglyceride got better? He ate lots of things like oatmeal. Why would you think oatmeal at McDonalds is any worse than the oatmeal in your kitchen? Do you think McDonald's somehow injects saturated fat into the oatmeal?

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  60. This is all genetics. Some people can handle McDonald's food (freeks) and some people can't (normals).

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  61. We've evolved to be highly adaptable and survive on a crazy variety of foods, so in an otherwise healthy guy, 30 days at McD's making healthy choices probably isn't going to make a difference. Would I do it? No freakin' way!

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  62. He's not a freak of nature, he trained and worked hard to get where he is and he's eating the right carb/fat/protein ratios a runner should. Yes, the sodium is probably high in all this food but runners who run 100 miles/week need more sodium so maybe he's found the answer. 100 mile/week runners WILL improve their times (look at Katie A (one run at a time); she bumped up her mileage and wha-la, she's now a sponsored runner. But the trick is to stay away from injury. If I could run a 2:35 marathon, I'd do it in a heartbeat :).

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