This article was published on July 26th, 2012
Almost every single long-distance runner gloats about the same thing, ‘I can eat whatever I want!’. And generally speaking it’s true, runners pretty much eat whatever they want.
It is important to know that runners generally eat a very healthy, balanced diet. They have to. Their bodies are machines that burn and consume a massive amount of energy and calories. Long distance runners need to fuel their body with a wide variety of foods from each of the major food groups.
In the days leading up to runs 21km or greater, and especially leading up to major races, it becomes increasingly important to eat the cleanest diet possible, and to store protein, carbs and nutrients in the body.
The most common myth amongst non-runners is that marathon runners can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, after all, ‘you just ran a marathon!’ Let’s put it into perspective.
The average marathon runner will complete the 42.2km (26.2mi) course in approximately 4 hours, burning a total of about 2,400 calories.
A McDonald’s meal consisting of 2 cheese burgers, 6 chicken McNuggest with sweet & sour sauce, large fries, large Coke Zero, and 2 apple pies, is equivalent to 2,100 calories and 100g of fat!
In other words, it would take almost a full 42.2km marathon to burn through one McDonald’s meal! And to top it off, there is not enough nutritional value in that one meal to fuel the body for an entire marathon.
Next time someone suggests that a marathon runner can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, thing again!
However, this being said, yes, marathon runners will usually indulge in some tasty treats once their hard work is done. And yes, McDonald’s does carry healthy meal options like apple snacks and salads… for those that want/need to eat healthy.