So the McRunner has done it.

Who is the McRunner, you ask? His real name is Joe D’Amico and his goal was to run a 2:36 at the Los Angeles Marathon all while eating nothing but food from McDonald’s for the last 30 days prior to the race. Running a new personal best of 2:36:13, Joe was not only able to overcome the horrific weather in Los Angeles a week ago but also to show how much steel his stomach is made up of.

Or not.

When I read about D’Amico’s quest I immediate thought “Well, that’s a good stunt. He will definitely capture some attention.” It had all the makings of a good story. Can a man take on the hardest race out there (according to the imagination of most Americans who deify the marathon) by doing something that could not be more detrimental to his health (again according to what most of America thinks about food at McDonald’s.) Personally, I had zero doubt that he would do well. More accurately, I had zero doubt that if he did not do well it would have anything to do with his diet.

First, D’Amico has already run a 2:36 marathon (last October) and hasn’t run a marathon since.   It was not as if he was a 3:10 guy hoping to drop half an hour from his time and shock the world with an unheard of time. He was already a finely-tuned runner who knew what was possible with his legs hoping to run slightly faster than he already had. Second, his diet changed only for the last 30 days. As he himself attests, thirty days was no challenge at all. Sure, there is some damage that can be done to one’s training in the last month before a marathon but far less than most people imagine, especially for a runner of his caliber.

Finally, and most importantly, unlike Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame, D’Amico ate a wide variety of foods from McDonald’s and did not, obviously, give up exercising at the same time. Look at his daily diet here. There are some fairly healthy choices in there. Living the life of a traveling runner, I can say he probably was eating just as healthy as I do. In fact, D’Amico avoided the biggest problem that those who eat at fast food places come across: pairing.

Never heard of that term? Well, it comes from the idea that what most people “pair” their food choices with is usually far worse than the original food choice. As such, the overall meal takes on a bad connotation because of the latter’s worse overall health value. Chicken, and especially beef, are good choices for eating if you watch what else you decide to eat with them. Look how few times D’Amico paired one of his meals with french fries. Look how often he balanced his diet of beef and chicken with fruits and vegetables. The problem with McDonald’s (and other fast food places) is hardly the meat they serve, but rather the drenched-in-oil fries and the so-big-you-could-lose-a-Chrysler-in it fountain drinks.