guest post

Interview with a Runner

This week's runner is Ashley Combs. Ashley hails from sunny Florida. She works as a real estate development consultant - that is, when she is not traveling or running! She and Meghan trained together to qualify for Boston and then ran it together in 2008. Some of Meghan's fondest running memories are with Ashley and getting up at 3:30am to run 20 miles before the Florida heat set in.

When did you start running and why?
I started running when I was in college and the freshman 15 found me. I grew up a competitive swimmer, softball player and golfer - not sports that were sustainable as a college student. Running allowed me to get back in shape and gave me new challenges to achieve.

What is your favorite running route? Why?
My favorite running route is a peaceful route along a dirt road in the North George Mountains. My family has a vacation home up there on the Taccoa River and it is truly the most peaceful place in the world. And the mountains provide quite a challenge as well!!

Favorite post-run meal?
On my daily runs, I enjoy a protein shake with frozen banana and blueberries but after a loooong run, it has to be an omelet and a huge cup of coffee (I obviously run in the mornings!). I particularly enjoy thinking about that post long run meal at about mile 15!

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don't run so many miles!! I went through a time when I was running a few marathons a year and kept getting injured (and running anyway). By reducing my miles and make them count, I have remained injury-free for over a year now. That and the old adage "listen to your body"...there is some truth behind that!

Are you running for fun or sport? 
I run mostly for fun but do enjoy racing and beating my own goals. I find running a form of therapy...I can think out any issue, problem or stress in my life - even what I am going to wear for the day, haha!

Who inspires you to run?
Although I have not seen her in years, I attribute the beginning of my love for running to my college friend, Nicole Goodman. Nicole encouraged me to run my first competitive 5K in Tallahassee (go Noles!). It was a point to point race and I remember observing the college runners adding on by running back to the start -in effect completing a 10K - and exclaiming how crazy I thought it that they were running 6.2 miles!! It seemed so far to me at the time. Now that is a normal Tuesday morning training run for me! Ha!

Who would you love to run with and why?
I would love to go for a run with my grandfather that I never met. I find a run the best way to catch up with a friend or to bond with a new one and I have so many questions for my father's father!

Favorite way to sweat other than run?
I still enjoy swimming as my second favorite cardio sport but I often find myself in yoga classes, barre fitness classes and a crossfit-style bootcamp (sans the Olympic weight lifting!).

Nutrition Nugget: How to Survive the Holidays Hot Bird Style

Written by Caitlin Grams, a certified holistic Nutrition Coach, and the newest member of the Hot Bird Running team. A runner herself, Caitlin's focus is on nutrition for endurance athletes and nutrition for weight loss.  Read more about Caitlin's background and coaching philosphy and check out our new program called New Year, New You that combine nutrition and running to help you reach all of your health goals in 2013.

It's that time of year again, and I feel like everywhere I go the sugar and holiday treats have beat me. Cookies at work. Festive candy in cute little bowls on friend's coffee tables. Invitations for hot cocoa. Peppermint mochas and chex mix. 

You've already got the sweat part down, but I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you that no matter how many calories you are burning on the pavement, indulging in every sweet opportunity this holiday season can add up quickly and send your daily calorie intake sky high. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your eats clean this month:

*Keep sugar out of the kitchen. That's right - if it's not there, you won't eat it. Make sure you are sticking to healthy, filling meals and snacks and home - this will give you wiggle room to have a treat when you are out celebrating the holidays.

*Before you head to a holiday party, have a snack or small meal that is full of protein and fiber so you won't be at the mercy of whatever treats await you. My favorites are a small kale salad, an apple and almond butter or a small serving of almonds or cashews. 

*Drink water all day long. Bring a bottle with you and refill it often. Make a goal to drink 8-10 glasses a day and check them off as you go. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated will ensure you eat when you are truly hungry. 

*When you do choose to indulge, make it truly indulgent. Don't waste time on a piece of candy you can have any time of the year. Decide what is really worth it to you  - maybe it's a special holiday drink or a homemade cookie - and savor it. Choose one treat, take your time eating it and stop when you are done. 

Happy Holidays!! 

Cait's Plate: Turkey Burgers

Every other week, Caitlin Grams of Caitlin Lives Well, brings us delicious recipes inspired by her New Year’s Resolution “to make one new recipe a week”.  This week, Caitlin ventures into the land of meat with some savory sounding turkey burgers!

Turkey Burgers.  I don't eat meat very often - mostly I just don't love the taste or texture, and plant based meals are often much healthier. I've really been trying to be conscious of my protein intake lately, and every once in a while I will decide meat sounds good. Let's be honest, sometimes all you want after an especially hard workout is a burger. Lean ground turkey is SO much healthier for you than ground beef - for about the same amount of protein and B vitamins turkey has so much less fat and cholesterol. These burgers are easy to prepare, pack a great protein punch and taste as good as a beef burger, if not better. 

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/2 small onion, diced

1 egg

2 tbsp barbecue sauce

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tbsp oats

2 tsp sweet & hot mustard

1 tsp Chipotle Tabasco

1 tsp garlic powder

Pinch of salt

Prep:  Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until blended (using your hands is kind of gross, but works best - it also works best if you have someone else to do it for you). Separate into 4 medium sized patties - I laid them on top of a sheet of Saran wrap to prevent them from sticking to a plate. 

Cooking Instructions: Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a nonstick skillet and cook each patty for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Finish patties in oven heated to 350 degrees for an additional 10 minutes. 
Serve with veggies of your choice! I recommend lettuce, tomato, and avocado, with barbecue sauce. 

Yoga for Runners

We asked one of our favorite teachers, Stephanie Creaturo, to help us with some post run yoga. Her take on yoga, the body and runners always blows us away. Need to slow down, relax, stretch or feel good after a run? Head to Mala Yoga. Every single teacher knows their stuff and cares.

As a yoga teacher and a runner, I get asked a lot what are the best stretches to do after a run. There’s a good chance my fellow runner will also say “I don’t have a lot of time to stretch.” I get it! There are a million stretches out there and even more yoga poses.  And training for a race takes a lot of time. What’s a runner to do?

I totally believe that running and yoga can peacefully co-exist!  I hope you can check out an appropriate-level class for you at your local yoga studio – many studios (like mine) offer classes just for athletes or runners. Even if you go once a week, the teacher will lead you through a variety of poses, some of which you may be familiar with, some of which you may not.  Either way, you’ll certainly stretch out those muscles used in running, but you can also be inspired to get out of your stretching rut!  Yoga mixes up how it challenges the muscles in the body, which is great conditioning for the body and the mind.

Here’s one of my favorite poses to teach runners and to do after a long run. (Note, I don’t use the words “stretch” and “pose” interchangeably; I can think of a million different things when I’m stretching. When I’m engaged in a yoga pose, my attention is squarely placed on my breath and how my breath is guiding my physical alignment. But no matter what you do post-run, yoga or stretching, your body will thank you by staying healthy!)

It is called Parsvottonasana, or intense side stretch. Many yoga teachers call it “pyramid pose” because of the shape your body takes once its in the final pose. I find it to be a wonderful post-run balm for the backs of my legs, my low back, and my spine.

I love to do this pose with my hands on a wall or a park bench. By pressing my hands into a wall or the edge of a bench, I can integrate my arms to my shoulder sockets and let my shoulders & hips be aligned while I lengthen the muscles at the back of my legs.

Let’s get into the pose on the right side first!

1.     Place your hands on a wall or the edge of a bench.  Keep your ears in line with your upper arms as you walk your hips & feet back in space, bringing the spine parallel to the ground beneath you.

2.     Step the right foot towards the wall or the bench. The right toes point straight forward. Keep the right knee straight and the right heel in line with the right sitting bone. The right hip draws straight back in space as you firmly press the four points of the right foot into the ground beneath you.

3.     Squiggle the left leg back a bit, angling the left foot at a 70 degree angle. Zipper the outer edge of your left foot to the ground as you firmly press the four points of that foot down. The left heel is in line with the left sitting bone.  Your legs are now asymmetrical to each other.


4.     The hips are level in space – imagine that you’ve placed your open bottle smack in the center of the pelvis and you don’t want it to slip to the floor, spilling all your water.

5.     Push your hands into the wall or the bench, which will help take your hips and thighbones back in space. Keep firming the bottoms of the feet to the ground as you tack your sitting bones to your heels.

6.     Make sure you’re not locking your knees! Of course, if the hamstrings are singing an opera to you, then bend that right knee. Otherwise, engage the quadriceps to the thighbones and make sure you’re not rolling to your outer right foot.

7.     Breathe in Parsvottonasana for at least five breaths, working up to 10 deep breaths. To exit the pose, lift your gaze, step your left foot forward to meet your right foot, then repeat on the second side.

Now that you’re in the shape of a pyramid, you may wonder why it’s called intense side stretch. Good question! Most of us would call it calf or hamstring stretching pose.  But the name is a great reminder to keep the sides of the waist long and the abdominal area engaged as we stretch our legs.

Remember, yoga poses can take a zillion different shapes and your body is as unique as your fingerprints! When doing a post-run pose, make sure you’re stretching the belly of the muscle and not at the junction your muscles connect to the bone. Also, use resistance – it is a great tool to keep the muscles, bones & connective tissue speaking the same language post-run.

Lastly, make sure to budget a few extra minutes into the end of your run to stretch or strike a pose - it’s a better than striking out due to injury or exhaustion, especially if you’re training for a race.