Nutrition For Base Training: Cleaning Up Your Diet

By Caitlin Grams

There are so many factors that go into getting your body ready for a race. Training is all about preparation: getting your mind and body in prime condition to have the best possible outcome on race day. Getting your body ready to race is about more than just getting your legs in shape - in order to perform at your peak, nutrition is equally as important as your workouts. Not only will you ensure that you are properly fueling your body by cleaning up your diet, but your stomach will thank you - and any runner can tell you that keeping your stomach happy is key to a great race. 
Here are a few tips for cleaning up your diet during base training:
*Limit sugar. So many of us know that sugar is bad for us but we eat it anyway. Why limit sugar intake? Here are just a few good reasons: it is high in calories but low in nutritional benefits, it can lead to excess weight gain, it suppresses the immune system and can cause inflammation as well as surges and drops in energy (sugar crash anyone?)  - need i say more?
*Avoid excess dairy and high fat foods. These are two enemies of healthy digestion - most people don't tolerate dairy well, and foods that are high in fat are also difficult to digest -  which can lead to all kinds of stomach issues. Stick to lean proteins, green veggies and whole grains and your stomach will thank you. 
*Up your veggie intake. Vegetables keep your digestive system running smoothly, provide essential nutrients, calcium, and support immune function, among many other benefits.

Interview with a Nutrition and Fitness Coach

Stacey Grant MS (clinical nutrition) is a Nutrition and Fitness Coach, a Group Exercise Instructor and an inspiration. Stacey is one of those people you meet and you can't help but NOT smile when you are around her. She just finished competing in the National Physique Committee's April Metropolitan body building competition- Bikini Division (and kicked butt with a 6th place finish!). She works with all levels of athletes and shares why she loves runners below.

Why do you like working with runners?
I like working with runners because they are a dedicated group who understand the importance of training and consistency . Unfortunately, runners also sometimes have very disordered eating patterns so helping them to better fuel and replenish themselves is rewarding because the results are generally immediate.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Your body tells you what it needs with every ache, twinge and feeling of depletion. Listen to what it's asking for!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Running, of course! Running has been my favorite way to take in the beauty of mother Nature (and Father Industry) since I was a girl. It's also a way for me to perform some introspection and clear my mental space. Running makes me feel powerful, capable and humble before nature all at once.

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I eat A LOT so have a few favorite meals: a big bowl of bold cereal made with almond milk and Kashi "Heart to Heart", baked sweet potato topped with a can of sardines or a grilled chicken breast are a couple "Go To-s."

Interview with a Personal Trainer

Katherine Simmons ("Kado") is the Director of Community Outreach and one of our favorite coaches at Body Space Fitness. She played lacrosse at Cornell, where she was a four-year starter, two-time captain, and All-American, All-Ivy, and Academic All-Ivy honoree - and we haven't even mentioned how many pull ups she can do! She pursured her Personal Training Cert a few years ago and quickly became a top-tier trainer in NY. In May 2012, she became a BSF coach and started kicking the Hot Bird's butts! We love her sessions because she's a runner, an athlete, a pull-up machine (!) and embodies a holistic approach to training, which emphasizes mindful movement, balance, and plenty of hard work.

Why do you like working with runners?
I like working with runners because they like to move. Some move fast, some move slow, some run with perfect form, others flail like Phoebe from Friends. It really doesn't matter to me - if you enjoy moving your body around, and especially enjoy moving around outside, I will enjoy working with you.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find your core! Incorporate core strengthening exercises into warm-ups and warm-downs and you will inevitably strengthen your stride, feel lighter on your feet, and prevent injury. Core strengthening exercises range from mat work like floor bridges and planks to resistance exercises like kettlebell squats, 1-leg deadlifts, and cable rows. Do them all!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why?
I am an athlete at heart, so any sort of activity that involves play, competitive or friendly, will make me happy as a clam. I played soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse growing up, stuck with lacrosse in college, and now have discovered the joy of two-hand touch football. But really, I will play any game with anyone who can handle my enthusiasm and nonstop commentary (e.g. "There's Kado...she's driving for the end zone...she makes the catch! The crowd goes wild!")

What is your favorite post workout meal? 
If I have time, I'll whip up a hearty breakfast bowl: quinoa cooked w/ chunks of fresh ginger & jalapeño, a dallopp of hummus, a couple fried eggs, and sauteed kale. Top it off with some sriracha and you're good to go. Otherwise, for a more traditional sort, I'm a big fan of Greek yogurt w/ berries and a scoop of ground flaxseed or chia seeds.

When did you start running and why?
Great question! Honestly I think I came out of the womb running, but always on a field or turf and always as part of a game. In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and the news inspired my brother and I to sign up for the NYC Marathon. We started training with Fred's Team, an organization that raises money for cancer research for Sloan-Kettering. I don't think I had ever run more than 5-miles straight during all of my athletic training, but I was living in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts at the time, so couldn't have asked for a better location to train. I ran on the Appalachian Trail, I ran on quiet back roads, and I learned what it meant to just relax and listen to my breath and enjoy the quiet time. I would either sing my favorite songs in my head as I ran, or for the long training runs I would carry poems with me and try to memorize them. I loved the training and was able to play soccer and practice yoga to supplement it. Running for something greater than myself is what kept me going and to be honest I literally floated through the marathon, carried by the energy and the spirit of the city and the supporters, as well as the strength and pride I felt for my beautiful and fearless mother.

Interview with a Massage Therapist

Jennifer Mayer is our featured runner of the week. She is the  owner of Mama Moon NYC which is her private practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Birth Doula. She has been our go-to massage therapist for the past few years. She's healed many an aligment! She loves helping her clients feel better, manage stress and birth babies! Just from talking to her, you know she loves her job!

Why do you like working with runners?
It’s rewarding to help my clients reach their training and racing goals. My clients tend to be very motivated and fun to work with. Massage therapy is effective in injury prevention and healing, and I can see results pretty quickly in athletes. I’ve helped runners with super tight calves and hamstrings, injured runners prepare for an upcoming marathon, and then of course, helped runners recover after the big event. Working with each client on his or her goals is exciting, to be part of their team and help them achieve what they are working towards.  

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stretch! Many times I have runners come into my office who tell me all about their training, and the miles they are getting in, despite being busy at work or taking care of kids. And, really, it’s impressive how my clients can get everything done. One thing that many runners confess to me is that they don’t stretch. Period. I hear from them that there’s no time, or they forget, or they don’t like it. But please, make time to stretch, your muscles will thank you! 

What is your go-to fitness activity and why?  
For the past three years I’ve enjoyed private Pilates sessions as my go-to activity. The Pilates work helps keep my posture in alignment, which keeps my body healthy. It also focuses on weaknesses in my core and structure, so my body becomes stronger and works more efficiently. The Pilates work has greatly improved my running. Due to injuries in my shoulder and rib cage from a ski accident in 2003, it took me a few years to become comfortable running again as I would develop back pain after a certain amount of running. The Pilates work has really helped stabilize my core and even out some imbalances in my body. I really feel like it keeps me going, so I can enjoy running pain free now. 

What is your favorite post workout meal?  

Something quick, easy and nutrient dense. Lately, I've really been enjoying a sliced banana with cinnamon sprinkled on top with a tablespoon of raw nut butter on the side. I mix it up between almond and cashew butter. Yum! I also love green smoothies, filled with fresh pineapple, frozen mango, fresh kale and almond milk- maybe some additions of bee pollen or hemp seeds.

Jennifer Mayer's Green Smoothie Recipe:

  • 3/4c fresh (or frozen) pinapple
  • 3/4c frozen mango
  • 3-4 stalks of kale, stems removed
  • Handful baby spinach if it's on hand
  • 1 tablespoon raw almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Sprinkle of bee pollen
  • Enough almond milk to make it blend

When did you start running and why?  
I started running when I was twelve years old. I grew-up on a farm in upstate, New York and running was the quickest way I could get from one side to the other. As a child I never enjoyed “round ball” or team sports. One day I asked my father “Why can’t there be a sport where all you need to do is run? That would be really fun, and I think I’d be good at that.” My dad said, “You could be a harrier! And run cross-country!” I had no idea that running was a thing. Well I looked into this whole running thing and joined a community Track & Field program for children 5-12 years old. Eventually, I joined the modified Cross Country team at school, and, in 8th grade I made the varsity Track & Field team.

Running became a huge part of my high school experience. I loved going to practice every day, our team was a lot of fun to be around. I enjoyed racing and being part of the team, but I also liked setting individual goals for myself. Throughout high school I ran Cross Country in the fall, our coach hosted a winter training daily workout in the winter, and I ran the 400 Hurdles, 3000 meter steeplechase and 4x800 relay in Track in the spring. My Cross Country team even competed twice in the New York State Championship meet. Being part of the Track and Cross Country teams was a wonderful experience, and I feel like it’s given me a strong foundation for health and fitness that I’ve carried into my adult life.

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. 

Cait's Plate: Tofu and Quinoa Stir Fry

Every other week, Caitlin Grams of Caitlin Lives Well, is bringing us delicious recipes inspired from her New Year’s Resolution “to make one new recipe a week”.  This week we learn about how to make a protein packed stir fry!

Tofu and Quinoa Stir Fry

So it's probably pretty clear by now that I love quinoa. It's super versatile and is so quick to make. In this dish I use it as a substitute for brown rice - it cooks faster than brown rice, plus the higher protein and fiber content and amino acids aren't too shabby. I'm a big fan of meals I can just throw together, and stir fry veggies are so easy. To up the veggie content of this dish I add roasted broccoli. 
1 block tofu, extra firm, chopped into small squares
1 package stir fry vegetables
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa
For the tofu dredge:
1/2 cup peanut flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
For the vegetables:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp Sriracha
Coat the broccoli in the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes until it starts to brown. Remove from oven.
While the broccoli is roasting, prepare quinoa according to package directions. 
While quinoa is cooking, combine ingredients for tofu dredge in a ziplock bag. Toss tofu squares in dredge until coated. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium high heat (test how hot the oil is by sprinkling a pinch of the flour mixture into it to see if it sizzles). Add tofu to oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. When browned remove from pan and set on a paper towel lined plate. 
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a wo k or large pan over high heat. Add the stir fry vegetables and cook for about 4 minutes. When the veggies are almost done add the broccoli, soy sauce, garlic and sriracha and ginger powder. Toss and cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat.
Combine the quinoa, veggies and tofu and boom - deliciousness, in a bowl.


Cait's Plate: Spotlight on Smoothies

Every other week, Caitlin Grams 0f  Caitlin Lives Well, is bringing us delicious recipes inspired from her New Year’s Resolution “to make one new recipe a week”.  This week we learn about the deliciousness and nutritional value of smoothies! Enjoy!

Spotlight on smoothies

I'm on vacation this week, and while the hotel kitchen is not much smaller than the one in my New York apartment, it is really limited in that there is no oven or stove, so my meals this week have been a bit creative. One thing that has been consistent with my regular routine is my smoothies.

Smoothies are something I eat year round, for breakfast, a pre/post workout snack - sometimes even dinner or dessert. It is a quick, easy way to get in a ton of fruits and veggies, and I always make sure to up the protein content with chia seeds and/or nut butters. The ingredients change based on what I have in my kitchen, and lately I've taken to using a food processor instead of a blender - it makes the smoothies thicker so they have almost a sorbet like consistency.

1 banana (I usually use frozen ones that have gotten old and I've stuck in the freezer - a great way to not waste old bananas)
1 cup frozen mixed berries (or fresh when they are in season)
1 cup frozen mango or pineapple
1/2 cup almond milk (or yogurt, or milk of your choice)

2 tablespoons flax and/or chia seeds (for additional protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, omegas, amino acids)
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter (additional protein, healthy fats)
1 cup kale or spinach (I usually do this when I haven't had a ton of veggies and need an extra boost - you really can't taste it!) 

With the food processor I  throw everything in and pulse until smooth - about 1-2 minutes. Then I pour it in a bowl and if I'm eating as a meal, I'll sometimes add 1/2 cup raw oats or cereal on top for a little extra staying power.

The best part about smoothies is that you can change it up and add whatever you've got in your kitchen. Go crazy!

Wellness Wednesday: Pre-Run Fuel

Our favorite Ayurvedic practitioner, Deacon Carpenter, is taking your nutrition questions and answering them every Wednesday. We are drawn to Ayurveda because it takes the whole person into account and provides guidelines based on you and your body; not arbitrary guidelines based around calories, proteins or carbs. If you have questions, send them to us at and we'll get them to Deacon. He is answering your questions every Wednesday. Here are his suggestions for pre-run fuel.

"How do I fuel my run with out feeling too heavy or running out of gas?”

Many of my clients are athletes, and this question comes up quite often. One of my clients was so overwhelmed with his research that he felt eating ½ box of pop tarts before one of his 10-mile runs would be ideal. Suffice to say that he crashed and burned at mile 5, and didn’t feel so hot shortly after.

As a runner, I know that eating appropriate foods before a run can take a little planning, but the better the fuel we put in, the better performance we put out. Therefore, I tell my clients who are runners that there are four golden rules to pre-run fueling from an Ayurvedic perspective. They are:

1. Eat foods which are easily digested. Oatmeal with a little ghee (clarified butter) and maple syrup, brown sugar or sucanut is ideal. Would also add some raisins or dates to the mix as it’s cooking. It’s a great blend of carbs, quick-burning and slow burning sugars. You can also spices like cinnamon or a little cayenne pepper. You can switch out oats with white basmati rice. If you simply can’t bring yourself to cook that much in the morning, choose a simple cereal and add hot milk.

2. Cook your food! Eating cooked grains actually allows our bodies to digest food faster versus eating a bowl of cold cereal or an energy bar. Cooking food is a form of pre-digestion, so when it hits the stomach, there has been some breakdown already, so your body turns food into fuel faster. Although cooked food is pre-digested.

3. Give it 30 minutes. Ideally, you should wait up to an hour after eating to run, but since many of us want to get up and go. Running 30 minutes after eating will give the body enough time to get the digestive process started, and give you enough fuel to get moving. It will also prevent you from getting a cramp or feeling too weighed down.

4. Eat until you are 2/3 full. It’s an odd fraction, but you want to not completely fill up on breakfast, otherwise, you’re risking a food coma. You want to eat until you are satisfied, not full. If this happens, I recommend waiting an hour before running.

Remember, a cup of coffee and an energy shot is NOT fuel for your run. Your body needs the fuel, so eat, otherwise, you may risk passing out!

For more information on Ayurveda or to understand what foods are best for your body type, visit Daily Veda and email Deacon.

Deacon founded Daily Veda after working in Global Advertising for 16 yrs. He practices yoga, runs and promotes healthy living through natural eating and Ayurvedic medicine. His Veda Bars are AMAZING. Best tasting bar ever and you can pronounce all the ingredients! He’s a wealth of knowledge and fun.