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More than a viral TikTok: Duke athlete, Emily Cole, looks to use platform to help others

Emily Cole went viral on TikTok when she posted looking for a date to her formal. (Photo credit: Emily Cole)
Emily Cole went viral on TikTok when she posted looking for a date to her formal. (Photo credit: Emily Cole)
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Hearing the pitter-patter of footsteps alongside her, mentally having to calculate the proper distance before a hurdle and steadying her breath lap after lap are the intricacies that made Duke athlete, Emily Cole, fall in love with running.

Cole has been sharing her passion for the sport on social media over the last several years, accruing a large following. However, most people know her as the student-athlete that went viral with a video on TikTok searching for a formal date.

"I never expected for that video to get as much traction as it did," Cole laughed.

In an effort to now use her platform in an inspiring and informative way, Cole is whipping up something new for her followers. The idea started because of her appetite for creativity and a craving to improve as a runner.

"I was in the kitchen cooking all the time," Cole said. "My friends were like, 'you should write a cookbook,' and I was like 'actually, that would be really fun.'"

Cole, at the time, also recognized the need for a comprehensive cookbook catered to athletes. She learned the hard way as a senior in high school that without the proper ingredients, you could be making a recipe for disaster.

"I was eating quote-unquote perfectly at the time," Cole explained. "I was eating all vegetables and cooking my own food and what not. I actually ended up over hydrating and not having enough sodium in both my liquids or my foods. I ended up getting hyponatremia, which is where you're too low in sodium and so my body went into a self-induced coma."

"The night before the State [track] meet, I went to bed and my coach could've let me go to sleep but he wanted to check in on me because I hadn't been feeling well," Cole explained. "He came in and kind of like shook my shoulder and I ended up convulsing. It looked like I had a seizure. I was in the hospital the next two days. I didn't wake up until the meet was over, but it's really scary to think that if he hadn't come in there and woken me up and checked on me, I wouldn't be here today."

This experience helped Cole quickly realize the weight of this issue.

"There's just so much information out there, it can really be information overload for athletes out there trying to feel well right now and it's not easy to do," said Cole. "Even the most like basic thing of like 'eat more vegetables.' Ok well, if you're about to go do a workout, that's actually not helpful to do right now. Little knit-picky things here and there, I wish there would have been an easy-to-understand guide when I was growing up."

That's how Cole cooked up the idea for her book, "The Players' Plate."

"I was like, I have to do it," emphasized Cole. "Basically my book is a sports nutrition guide that I wish I had 10 years ago whenever I was getting into athletics. I interviewed a bunch of elite athletes and asked them what they wish they had known. Each chapter is a different athlete's story, a core lesson from what they've learned and then there's a recipe teaching you how to implement what you've learned into your everyday life."

Cole says if her book and her videos reach just one struggling athlete, then the hours of work will have been worth it.

"I'm honestly just really excited. I'm hoping I can help younger athletes understand that sports nutrition shouldn't be this big, scary thing. [I'm also excited] being able to connect that many athletes, and even people that aren't athletes, across the country and across the world."

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The "Players' Plate" will hit the shelves this May. Cole hopes to go on a book tour this summer.

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