Eat only McDonald's for a month...and run a marathon? One woman's crazy challenge.

Emily with her marathon mascot. (courtesy of Emily Helm/mcrunnerette.com)Emily with her marathon mascot. (courtesy of Emily Helm/mcrunnerette.com)You'd think after "Supersize Me", nobody would ever attempt a month-long McDonalds-only diet again. But Big Macs make people do crazy things. Again. And again.

The latest to try the Morgan Spurlock meal plan is Emily Strunk-Helm, a 36-year-old Arizona native with a self-described "passion" for the golden arches. Here's the hitch: she's also training for a marathon.

On September 8th, she began a 31-day rigorous runner's regimen in preparation for the Long Beach Marathon on October 9th. For fuel, she's eating only off the McDonald's menu, "especially my favorites -- Cheeseburgers, Chicken Nuggets and French Fries," she writes on her blog, appropriately titled McRunnerette.

The reason she's putting herself through this is noble; she's hoping to raise $10,000 for the Ronald McDonald house. So far she's got about $2,300 so she's a long way from her goal (help her out here) and the stakes are high.

Only one person has accomplished this bizarre and counterintuitive feat. Chicago-area athelete Joe "McRunner" D'Amico finished the Los Angeles Marathon in 28th place after his 30-day McD's challenge in March.


Helm is following his regimen, allowing bottled water and energy supplements as the only sustenance outside of fast food. She doesn't plan to beat his under-3 hour time, but she will break his record. McRunnerette has added an extra day to her eating regimen.


So far, her training hasn't been easy. After the first day of fast food and a five mile run, she got sick. "How does one get a cold in the middle of summer?" she wrote in her training log. Aside from the cold which forced her to skip a few days of training, she's fielding another big problem.

"My stomach was growling a few times during the day," she writes. "I think the hardest part of this challenge will be making it to McDonalds enough times during the day to satisfy my hunger." While the menu items offer a lot of calories, they don't satiate for long.

Here's a sample of what she'll eat on an average day:

1 Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 Hot and Spicy McChicken Sandwich
1 Small French Fry
2 Large Diet Cokes
1 Large Vanilla Cone
1 Crispy Chicken Ranch Wrap
1 Medium French Fry
1 Apple Pie


While she's getting the high-carolie diet required for training, she's also getting a lot of extra stuff, like, er, silly putty. And trans fat. Runner's World health reporter Sally Wadyka warns of the hidden dangers of trans-fat-laden processed foods that athletes think are safe to consume because of their calorie-burning regimen. "[Trans fat] not only increases bad, artery-clogging cholesterol, but also actually lowers levels of the heart-protecting good cholesterol," she explains. That means no matter how much you burn, you're still vulnerable to heart disease. If Spurlock's heart palpitations, on day 20 of his experiment, are any indication, the side-effects can come on fast.

McRunnerette does have exercise on her side, unlike the "Supersize Me" director. She's also taking precautions; she's got a doctor on call to monitor her health during and after the challenge. But she isn't cutting out the fries. As of Wednesday she'd already eaten 3 smalls, and 5 mediums.

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