How Jack Shaved MAJOR MINUTES OFF His MARATHON Time : Marathon Runner Jack Kamen Interview

Published: Mon, 23 Mar 2015

Jack explains how changing his food choices to a low-fat fruit based, 80/10/10 diet unlocked unforeseen running potential. He has gone on to dramatically improve his marathon PR and even placed 2nd in a very tough 100 mile ultra marathon. Jack's story is another testament to the athletic gains seen by athletes when they follow the 80/10/10 diet. Transcript is below.


Jack Kamen: I brought on 80/10/10 in 2 months and, here is just numbers, from 26:57 and being in 40th place to, I just on Saturday, placed 2nd at the Beast of Burden Ultra Marathon 100 miles in Lockport, New York. My time was 19 hours and 19 minutes. My name is Jack Kamen and I'm from central New Jersey and the Woodstock Fruit Festival ... I'm very grateful to be here ... an amazing experience. I found the 80/10/10 way of life, the lifestyle, I wouldn't call it a diet, I call it the lifestyle in terms of moving to all fruit, vegetable intake and abiding by those 80/10/10 guidelines and I read the book.

The way I got introduced to it was Michael Arnstein, who is ... came up with the idea for the festival, he is an ultramarathon runner and I am an ultramarathon runner. I started running about four or five years ago, just put down a lot of bad habits and picked up running, then started with just getting on the treadmill and running 1, 2 miles. I remember the first time I ran 2 or 3 miles and 5 years ago came home and said, "Mom, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill. It's unbelievable." The next day another 2 or 3 miles and so on and so forth until ... continuing to build up and my body started adapting.

During that time I didn't really understand nutrition at all, was just eating the standard American diet ... Was moving away from lots of empty calories, not eating lots of fried things or sugary things but still eating what everybody else is eating and not understanding how it was affecting my performance. Then I got to the marathon distance and basically in the marathon world, most people just buy off-the-shelf energy gels, they're called. They just suck down these gels that have refined sugar in them. They have a breakdown on the back of what's in it but it's not natural, it's processed stuff. It definitely kept me going but I never felt that really natural energy. It felt like refined, fake energy a little bit.

So to get back to Michael Arnstein and in the ultramarathon world, he is well-known as a top competitor, also from New Jersey. He has won the New Jersey Marathon multiples times and I have partaken in it. I remember saying, "Who won the New Jersey Marathon this year?" You always want to know who won. You see their time and, oh my God, it's something unbelievable and the name is Michael Arnstein. That name stuck with me a couple years and then I started hearing his name come up in the ultramarathon circles. I have some friends that were "Oh yeah, I just ran the New York City ultra." ... Which is where they run from Times Square all around Manhattan and come back ... "Arnstein was there. He's eating all fruits and vegetables; I don't know how he does it."

Certainly, just like everybody else, I was "That sounds crazy!" and I wasn't ready for that. Michael always talks about 80/10/10, so we're in the kitchen making dinner and I just go to Amazon and order 80/10/10. It shows up and I start reading it and you just start reading it and start internalizing what's going on. You hear how other people say their performance has changed and the main thing was that I dropped my fat down to 10% and I learned how to count my calories and I used the internet ... everything I'm about to eat, how many calories of fat in this? Now I know that there's 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate, 4 calories in a gram of protein and 9 calories in a gram of fat. I know that if I'm eating 2500 calories that I need 250 calories max of fat and I know 150 of those are coming from 40 servings of fruit, so where am I getting my extra? Being able to mathematically break it down like that ... I started keeping track what I was eating, made it a lot easier because some things are so subtle. You put in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and you don't realize that you're already at 10% for the day if you're that ... then you might be adding other things.

To get to the performance aspect, I was running ... I just started ... I definitely shed 10, 12 pounds but it was all ... I just got really lean and then I started going out for runs. I was pushing it and not hitting the wall. That's the best way I can describe it. Hitting the wall means that I'm running really hard and suddenly I feel I can't breathe anymore and the lactic acid in my muscles is burning and I have to pull back. Speeds and paces, like mile-per-minute paces, that used to have me hit the wall, I was now able to go way beyond them and I wasn't hitting the wall and it was really exciting. The reason it was really exciting, anyone who's an athlete knows, in the first year or two of becoming athletic and working, building a craft in one specific thing, whether it's biking, running, whatever, you see a lot of gains and they're exciting. You start out and you can only do a 10-minute mile and then a month later you're doing 8 minutes. To drop 2 minutes in your mile is huge but later on down the line, 3 or 4 years down the line, you can't get those gains any more, naturally ...
Kevin Cosmo: You plateau.

Jack Kamen: Plateau. You can't get those gains naturally, you would think, and that's why everyone in these competitive sports turns to ... they want something off the shelf. They want the crazy supplements, "We fill up your legs with lactic acid before they get lactic acid so your legs learn how to -", all these snake oil type things. You try different things but trying this, literally I could not believe that I went from running comfortably at 7:15 per mile pace for a 20 mile run to running comfortably at 6:20 pace for a 20 mile run. That's nearly a minute increase in 2 months and for a marathon runner or somebody ... I'm feeling amazing about that.
Kevin Cosmo: That's 20 minutes off your marathon time.

Jack Kamen: Yeah.
Kevin Cosmo: 25 minutes, 26 minutes.

Jack Kamen: It would be 26 minutes off a full marathon. So 26 minutes in the marathon world, when you're already trying to be competitive ...
Kevin Cosmo: In 2 months.

Jack Kamen: Is unbelievable. Then, the ultramarathon space ... yeah, I'm one of these crazy ultramarathon runners and I like to run for 100 miles straight and I've partaken in 4 of them and my previous best time was 26 hours and 57 minutes, which ... sometimes it takes a long time to cover these distances, so in these events, that's not last place. That's probably halfway in the middle. I brought on 80/10/10 in 2 months and here's just numbers, from 26:57 and being in 40th place to-, I just on Saturday placed 2nd at the Beast of Burden Ultra Marathon 100 miles in Lockport, New York. My time was 19 hours and 19 minutes.
Kevin Cosmo: Say it again, Jack.

Jack Kamen: It was 19 hours and 19 minutes ...
Kevin Cosmo: Coming down from?

Jack Kamen: 26 hours and 57 minutes. That's about 8 hour difference, which anyone can do the math, it's 35% better time. That's just the athletics. In terms of the performance proof, as an athlete, if anyone's an athlete, it gets you so excited that you're never going back. That may be why it's been easier for me. It's not hard because I'm so excited about the results. I'm seeing the results as soon as I step out the door, that they're tangible, so it makes it easier for me but there are a lot of other benefits like the spiritual benefit of feeling clean, clear, connected, aware, definitely feel cleaner. It makes it easier when you're not carrying mental heaviness, physical heaviness, spiritual heaviness and this diet affects all 3. It starts maybe with the physical, where your body's cleansing and it's much lighter but that also end up affecting your emotions, you're more sensitive of them, you can really feel them more, you can work through them more and you can understand more what's going on.
Kevin Cosmo: Is that true?

Jack Kamen's Partner: Yes, absolutely.
Kevin Cosmo: Okay (laughs).

Jack Kamen: I'm very also grateful to have a partner that also is partaking in the diet, which pretty much ... that helps a lot. We have a lot of joy over it, we're laughing a lot, we're having a lot of fun discovering ... I don't know why it took this to help me to become excited about food, about nutrition, but it did because now we have this connection to food, fruits and vegetables, and we're excited to eat a healthy meal. At home, even if it's not that hard for me, it still can be a little lonely not having other people that understand or do it, so if anyone is in ... specially in the New Jersey area, please say hello so we can get connected and we can continue to enjoy our lives this way and hopefully carry the message, through attraction. You can't promote things, it doesn't work, it has to be through attraction or people just see what's going on and then naturally, if they're ready, they'll gravitate, they will come and ask what are you doing and I'll share it with them.
Kevin Cosmo: Thank you, Jack.

Jack Kamen: Thank you.

Additional Resources



Amp Up Your Fitness

Practical Skills To Thrive

Self-Study Materials:

Raw Athlete's
3 Book Combo
The 80/10/10 Family
80/10/10 Bootcamp
How To Live 80/10/10