Wellness Wednesday: Top 5 Power Snacks

We asked Loni Markman, an Integrative Nutitrion Coach, what snacks she recommends to her busy, athletic clients. Check out her Top 5 Power Foods.

As runners, I am sure you are thrilled about the early Spring weather we are having here in NYC.  I bet this means you are spending more time out running more and looking for the right foods to help fuel your run. As an athlete, your approach to nutritional can mean the difference between peak performance and sub-optimal energy and recovery.  I am often asked which energy bars or protein shake is best for my workout. Well, my answer is usually none.  Turning to “power” snacks is essential but we have to make sure they are not packed with sugar and limited in nutrients. Below is a list of my top 5 power foods to help you run faster and further and ease the recovery process.

1.      Acai –  Acai (ah-sigh-ee) is a tiny berry that is found in the Brazilian rainforests and has been used for centuries as medicine with the local tribes. It became popular through martial arts and was brought to the states in 2000 by surfers who used it in Brazil to support their intense workouts. Recent studies have found that the Acai is one of the most powerful foods in the world. The acai berry packed with antioxidants, has a nearly perfect amino acid complex to support muscle contraction and ease joint pain, has healthy fats to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health plus it increases energy levels and speed up metabolism. Thus making it a nearly perfect food to support your running.

HOW TO EAT IT: You can have it for breakfast in an Acai Bowl or add it to your smoothies and drink it on the go.

2.      Quinoa -  We all know your need to increase your carbs for your runs but you certainly do not need to turn to pasta or processed carbs for your fuel. Enter in my favorite superfood for super energy, Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wa). Quinoa is an ancient grain (it actually falls more into the greens family but that is for another blog post)  that originated in South America and brings to the table a gluten free complex carbohydrate that is packed with protein, fiber, iron, magnesium all essential nutrients for runners.

HOW TO EAT: Quinoa is quick and easy to make. You can enjoy it sweet for breakfast or as a savory side dish. Click here for some recipes.

3.      Green Smoothies – It’s just like a fruit smoothies but packed with the nutritional powerhouse that greens offer us. These easy to make or buy smoothies are a healthy alternative to all those energy drinks out there and can really make a difference to your recovery and performance.  Greens have more vitamin and minerals than any other food out there plus they contain chlorophyll, which helps promote and carry oxygen in the body.

HOW TO EAT: Green smoothies serve as a great mid-afternoon pick me up or breakfast. The basic recipe is 2 cups of greens, 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of filtered water blended in the blender and enjoyed!

4.      Bananas – Now I know you probably already know this one but being that it is one of the easiest on the go grabs I had to include the potassium packed banana. They didn’t only make my top five because all that potassium helps prevent muscle cramps but they are super easy to digest and will give you the energy you need to sustain a good run.

5.      Coconut water -  As you know hydration is key when running and getting a good sweat and coconut water, not Gatorade,  should be your answer to replenish your electrolyte levels.  Coconut water is natural and not filled with sugars and artificial coloring and sweeteners like so many other electrolyte drinks on the market. Why should you love it? Because it is rich in 5 essential electrolytes, potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.  These electrolytes are critical to proper recovery after you run or workout, making coconut water one of the best runners’ recovery drinks available today

About Loni: 
Loni Markman is not your typical Nutrition Consultant! Loni has been working in the field of wellness for almost a decade, helping clients find nourishment and balance in their everyday lives. She focuses on self love, weight management, pre and post natal and general women’s health. She has a true passion for educating and inspiring others on their journey to better heath.

Loni holds a Masters Degree in Health, a Bachelors in Business, a Certification as a Holistic Health Counselor from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a Certification in the Psychology of Eating with Marc David, she holds a Certification from Power Pilates and has extensive studies in Emotional Freedom Technique. All of which she infuses into her integrative coaching with clients. You can learn more about Loni on her websites – and

Hello Recovery

Our Wellness Wednesday is back. Today Deacon, our favorite Ayurvedic practitioner, talks to us about recovery and what your body needs.

Hello Recovery,
Almost as important as our pre-run fueling is our post-run fueling. When we run, we lose minerals & vitamins through sweating, and our immune systems becomes weaker, as our bodies are repairing the tissues we’ve used during our activity. What to eat and how to refuel?
A good stand by are bananas. They are high in potassium, which regulates heart, kidney, nerves and digestive function. They are also high in Vitamin C and manganese, which helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels. From an Ayurvedic perspective, bananas can be a little tough to digest, especially if your digestive system has been weakened after your run. 
Personally, I love to reach for cooked leafy greens – specifically spinach or kale. One of my favorite post-running fuel treats is steamed spinach on brown rice toast with a little olive oil lemon juice and sea salt (hear me out, I’ll get to the portable foods in just a sec).

Spinach is an amazing food for runners, because it’s completely loaded with fabulous nutrients, like Vitamins A, B6, B2, C, E, K, magnesium, foliate, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, niacin Omega 3’s and protein! 
You can also use kale instead of spinach, and actually cook rice rather than use rice bread if you have the time.
Another one of my favorite post-run cooked treats is a smallish beet with a 3-minute egg mixed with a little olive oil and sea salt. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds. Beets are high in foliate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron phosphorus and copper. Adding the egg adds protein, B2, 5, & 12 and Vitamin D, Omega 3’s.
If you like the idea of leafy greens, but think I’m insane if I think you have the time to make a meal after running, or if you want something after a race, I have two words for you: Kale chips. They are delicious, portable and nutritious. You can purchase kale chips at your local health food store or whole foods, or you can make your own from my recipe below. I like the ‘cheese’ flavor variety of kale chip  - not to worry; the ‘cheese’ is actually nutritional yeast.
If you have a sweet tooth, however, may I suggest the humble date? Dates are loaded with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin A and foliate. They are a little high in sugar, so I would recommend mixing it up a little pumpkin & sunflower seeds and maybe a few almonds. The nuts and seeds provide protein, B1, B2, B6, Vitamin E, zinc, copper and iron.

Remember, hydrating is also very important after running. Try to avoid drinking iced-cold water. You may have heard that drinking iced water makes you loose weight by making the body work harder to maintain body temperature, but in reality, it brings your metabolism to a grinding halt. Imagine throwing iced water on a camp fire. Try drinking room temperature water, or even warm water if you can get your hands on it!

Enjoy the recipes for portable post-run snacks. I’ve also included my recipe for an Ayurvedic trail mix, so you can take the mix with you for a post run munch.
Cheesy Kale Chips

1 bunch curly kale
1 cup cashews (soaked for a couple hours)
1 red bell pepper, deseeded
Juice of half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Remove the toughest parts of the kale steams, wash then tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Place pieces in a large bowl 
Cheesy coating: 
Combine soaked cashews, bell pepper, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and sea salt in a blender or food processor and run for a minute or two until smooth.
Add the cheesy coating to your bowl of kale and massage it in with your hands.  
Spread kale pieces on parchment paper on baking trays, and bake at 200 degrees until crispy, about 45 minutes (but again, all that matters is that they MUST be crunchy).
Trail Mix (makes 4 cups)

1 cup of Sunflower seeds
1 ½ cups raisins
½ cup dried apricots (chopped coarsely)
½ cup dried apples (chopped coarsely)
½ cups raw almonds (chopped coarsely)
¼ teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a spoon, and store in a cool dry place.

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.

Half-Marathon Recovery

Here are our top tips for optimal recovery the week after a Half-Marathon:

1) Take at least 2 days off from running and any strenous activity

2) Ice and then ice those muscles and joints some more (continue icing for as long as you feel sore)

3) Take a yoga or pilates class or go for a bike ride a few days after

4) Listen to your body - your recovery time will be different from others. Start running again when you feel ready! Make your first run back an easy, short run.

5) Get a massage! A massage will help repair and heal your muslces so you can get back out there.

6) Reward yourself and smile! You did it!

What's in Your Stomach?

What's your favorite food to eat before or after a run?  Here's what we're snacking on over at Hot Bird Running:


1. Banana with Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
A carb-packed energy-booster before or after a run. Bananas are carbs and contain potassium and vitamin B6. Add almond butter or peanut butter for more protein.  For people on the go, check out these awesome little almond and peanut butter packets: Justin's Nut Butter Packs
When they’re good: Before or after a run. They’re also great blended into a fruit smoothie. Or simply whip frozen banana chunks with milk in a blender for a delicious recovery shake.

2. Yogurt
A great source of calcium, protein and potassium – and it’s low in fat and fairly high in carbohydrates. The live and active cultures added to certain types of yogurt (often called ‘bio’) will also boost your immune system.  Meghan prefers Greek yogurt because it doesn't contain as much liquid whey and lactose. Greek yogurt also has a bit of an edge over regular yogurt because it has double the protein and half the sugar.  Some of us are not too keen on Greek yogurt, like Jessica, who sticks with Activia either alone right after a run or with some granola or kashi cereal for a solid breakfast or Chobani's Greek Yogurt.
When it’s good: Any time. We like it for breakfast if we're not running right away or right after a run

3. Berry & Banana smoothie
Berries contain vitamin C and potassium. We combine frozen berries and a banana with a bit of yogurt (or skim milk) and protein powder, it's an easy recovery drink full of calcium, potassium and vitamins C and A.
When it's good: post run

4. Hummus with Carrots or Pretzels
Protein and veggies. Pretzels are good if you need a carb.
When they're good: Post run snack or a mid-afternoon snack if you plan on running later in the day.

5. Almonds and Dried Cranberries (our version of GORP)
Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E. Add dried cranberries (and chocolate chips!) for a bit of sweetness.  Jessica likes to satisfy her sweet tooth cravings by adding yogurt- and chocolate-covered raisins into the mix.  If you live in Brooklyn, check out Sahadi’s where you can make your own mix!
When they're good: post run or mid-day snack

6.  English Muffin with Almond or Peanut Butter
Whole grain english muffins provide just the right amount of carbohydrates we need to fuel our runs.  Spread a tablespoon or two of either peanut or almond butter on for the necessary protein you need before a longer run, and you're good to go.  Jessica's favorite english muffins are Thomas 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins
When they're good:  Pre-run

Tip of the Week: Tools to Aid Recovery

Recovery is a major aspect of any training plan (from a 10k race to a marathon). It's just as important as the long run or the weekly tempo run. Recovery can be an overlooked and often forgotten part of your training.  Here are a few recovery products that travel with us and can be used just about anywhere - we highly recommend all of them!

What our Run Recovery video to see our favorite products.

The Stick: we use the "Sprinter Stick" because it's firm and short. You control the pressure, either getting a light or deep massage. Great to use on the legs and easy to pack!

The Grid, from Trigger Point Therapy. This is a light weight, versatile foam roller. We like it because it's a 1/4 of the size of a foam roller, firmer and hollow (great for packing!)

Airex Balance Pad.  This balance pad, which we bought at the suggestion of our Physical Therapy, is a training tool that combines exercise and balance skill to improve strength and coordination. We love it for strengthening our ankles and knees.

Bathing Suit for Running?

Tomorrow I take on deep water running for the first time ever and I'm on the hunt for a sport appropriate bathing suit.  In the meantime, congrats to a friend, Danielle Quatrochi, on showing us what it means to set goals and then ACCOMPLISH them!

Remember, this holiday season, to commit to helping others achieve their goals too.  Support, cheer and ask for updates.

Happy swimming/running?!

Staying Fit After Running a Marathon

By Caitlin Grams

The marathon is over . . . now what?  Caitlin Grams, who teamed up with Hot Bird Running to train for the Chicago Marathon this fall, explains a few key strategies to maintaining fitness as well as motivation to workout during the months immediately after a marathon.  

MARATHON TRAINING  is a funny thing. You spend months planning your life around a race - scheduling every workout and run, calculating pace, splits, tracking mileage - and then it's over in a day. The day after I ran the Chicago Marathon was a major let down. I didn't know what to do with myself. I had spent months following a strict training plan and suddenly there were no workouts on my calendar, nothing I had to do. I felt both completely lost and totally free. I decided to listen to my body - I took a few days off and then hopped back into yoga and cross training. It was a week later before I went for my first run. Now, a month after my marathon I'm still feeling my way back into running, but I'm loving this time of doing what I want, when I want to.

While it is nice to have the flexibility to do what I want, there is also the danger of totally falling off the wagon post-marathon and not moving enough. When you are coming off of months of planned workouts, not having a plan can make skipping workouts easy, especially as the days get shorter and colder and staying in bed sounds so much nicer than an early morning run. Here are my top 3 tricks to staying fit post marathon:

1.  Do what you want to do - if you don't want to run, don't! Now is the time to fit in all those spin classes you put on hold during training, to recommit to yoga, to try out that new conditioning class you were afraid to start while training. If it sounds fun and exciting to you, you're more likely to get out and do it. If you do feel like running, leave your watch behind - not knowing your time or pace is really freeing after spending so many months consumed by it.

2. Enroll other people - find sweat buddies, make class or run dates with friends so someone else is holding you accountable. Tell other people about your sweat plans so when they check up on you you'll have something to say!

3. Plan your workouts - I spend time every Sunday night comparing my work schedule to my favorite classes and penciling them in, planning runs, and scheduling workout dates with friends. I also usually have a few backups just in case. Going into the week with a plan keeps me motivated.

4. Finally, when you feel ready, sign up for another race! It doesn't have to be a marathon, it can be a 5k fun run, but having something to work towards always keeps me going.

Happy running!

Caitlin is a runner, yogi and SoulCycle addict from Seattle who, thanks to Hot Bird, has come to love crushing Harlem Hill repeats. She is an educator at lululemon Soho, a nutrition student, and blogs at Caitlin Lives Well. 

Marathon Recovery

By Maren Elliott

We've asked Maren Elliott to follow-up her inspiration post last week, The Final Miles, with a little insight into the recovery during the weeks after those final miles.  

The morning after finishing a marathon I wake up depressed – without fail.  It always seems so silly; I’ve accomplished something great so I should be elated.  Not to mention I’m free of long training runs, foam-rolling sessions, and painful massages.  But somehow the extra time and less regulated schedule doesn’t bring the relief I always anticipate.  I’m antsy, feel out of shape, and generally pretty grumpy.  The emotional recovery from a marathon is typically the hardest for me, but there is also the physical recovery.

Depending on the marathon I may be unable to walk or take stairs without grasping a hand-railing for fear that my legs will buckle and quit working.  Then there are those inexplicable marathons when I feel great the next day, like I could go for a run (and I usually desperately want to).  It can be hard to know exactly how to approach the recovery period especially when you feel out of sync physically and emotionally.

The general rule of thumb is to give yourself as many days to recover as miles you ran.  So for a marathon, you’d take 26 days for recovery.  There have been times when my legs needed twice that before I could even think about lacing up running shoes again.  And there have been times when I’m ready to run a week later.  In both cases the important thing to remember is to listen to your body and not force anything – it is different for everyone.

Taking walks and doing an easy bike ride in the first days after the marathon helps relieve the soreness a bit, and can provide some of the mental release I need in the absence of running.  Regardless of how long it takes, I constantly remind myself to “be nice to myself” during the awkward transition weeks after the marathon.  This sounds easy enough but can be hard when things feel off balance.  If you give yourself the time you need to recover and heal, the first run back will bring the endorphin rush you crave and all will feel right again.

7 Reasons Why Massage is Great for Runners

We asked one of our favorite Brooklyn massage therapists (who has helped us recover from many a long run) to discuss the merits of massage and why it's great for runners. 

by Jennifer Mayer, LMT

PREVENT: Massage can help prevent injuries by increasing fluidity in tissues, increase range of motion and increase flexibility. Additionally, massage is an excellent way to gain valuable information about the condition of your muscles and work out any potential areas of tightness that could lead to an injury.

STRETCH: Stretching improves range of motion, muscle flexibility and prevents injury. All three are important factors to keep you running healthy and injury free.

FLUSH: Running produces lactic acid, a metabolic waste product the gets stuck in the muscles. Lactic acid causes pain and discomfort by irritating the nerves in the muscle tissue. Massage flushes lactic acid out of the muscles, enabling you to recover quicker, with less pain and discomfort from workouts.

EASE: Massage helps the body move freely and with more ease. When muscle repairs itself after exercise and strength building, the muscle fibers are misaligned. Massage helps realign these fibers.

HEAL: By increasing blood flow, massage helps injuries recover faster by bringing essential nutrients and tissue repairing cells to the injury site. This increased flow also removes wastes created by the injury quicker, further supporting the healing process.

SUPPORT: Massage with an emphasis on structural alignment helps runners keep good posture and structural integrity by releasing tightness throughout the body. Releasing tight feet can do wonders for your gate and low back or hip pain.

DOWN TIME: Rest is an important aspect of any training regime. Massage encourages time for rejuvenation to restore your reserves.

Jennifer Mayer is a licensed massage therapist practicing in Brooklyn, NY. Over the past 8 years as an LMT Jennifer has had the pleasure to work with athletes from all backgrounds. From eager rock climbing kids, to professional cyclo-cross racers to individuals training for 10ks and triathlons to Olympic runners. Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum massage. You can visit her website for more information.