Nicole Esplin


Recent Articles

The BBQ state: Unique origins of barbecue define North Carolina history, culture

11/25/13 3:17pm

Political debates change with every season, but one argument that will never end in North Carolina is where the best barbecue comes from. Many native Carolinians have an opinion on which barbecue joint is the most famous or authentic, and it is often a joint around his or her hometown.  A quick description of the taste and texture of their local barbecue recipe is followed by a longer story describing the history and culture behind their specific shop, as well as the reason why it’s home to the “most delicious barbecue in the world.” Barbecue joints can be argued about for days, but the real question remains — What comprises a great barbecue sandwich, and how did North Carolinians become so loyal to pulled pork slathered with sauce? Western v.


Animal Lovers Wanted: Pet Adoption Center enlists volunteer help from college students

10/17/12 9:08pm

You’ve probably seen the commercials. Those deep brown eyes that have cried countless puppy tears, the matted, flea-infested fur begging to be combed and rubbed, and the protruding rib cages, evidence of malnutrition and cruelty. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, is notorious for its heart wrenching commercials that may entice you to run out to your local pet adoption center or hug your own furry best friend a little closer.


Get Sweaty

4/18/12 11:20am

I spent my Monday morning following Boston Marathon updates, checking the progress of the elite runners between classes (I admit it) on two extended trips to “fill up my water bottle” during class. This year’s marathon was an excruciating, hot race, run in over 80-degree heat.


Running for the thrill of it

4/1/12 3:05pm

There is a joke among my teammates that has become more and more distinguished throughout the past two years.  The joke has to do with the relationship between talking on a run and the pace of the run, and the joke is on me. One of my teammates told me I should talk while I race, because it seems the more I talk, the faster I push the pace.  Though this seems backwards to talk more as your pace quickens and your breath becomes more rapid, my teammate had a point. I am not a science major, but I do know from running that endorphins released while exercising have an effect on the body and mind that no other sensation can compete with. This “runners' high” causes me to keep pushing, keep talking, keep running even in the harshest conditions, and to enjoy every minute of every run (or at least the majority of runs). There is a story I have been following via Runner’s World on Twitter, about Micah True, a legendary ultra-runner nicknamed “Caballo Blanco,” and featured in Christopher McDougall’s book “Born To Run.” Caballo Blanco (since this is a running blog, it only seems right to refer to him by his famous name in the running world) went missing on Wednesday morning after he didn’t return from a 12-mile trail run.  Around 6 p.m.


Don’t fear the bathing suit season (we have you covered!)

2/28/12 9:37pm

Spring break is 18 days away.  Homework is piling up as teachers prepare for a week of no classes (ugh!).  With all the work, it may be difficult to find time to exercise and focus on eating healthy, but if you put in a little extra work now, you will be grateful when your favorite jean shorts and bikini from last summer fit just as well as they did last summer (if not better!) this spring break. Take advantage of the following Campus Recreation programs this spring to have fun while shaping up for a much needed spring break! Swim To Florida-  Swimming strengthens your core, arms and legs, and is one of the best cardio workouts, as the average swimmer burns around 500 cal/hour.


A runner's Christmas wishlist

12/3/11 6:15pm

Runner or non-runner, black Friday is a chaotic mess of people, sale signs, and choices.  Do I want the dress or the skirt?  Dress.  Do I want the lacey dress or sparkly dress?  Sparkle (always).  ….what about new make-up?  Or should I spend that money on a new Chi to straighten my hair? This year, I was efficient in making decisions, and I left the mall with my wallet a little skinnier and my bags stuffed more than my stomach was the day before. I was content, planning out my holiday outfits for the next two weeks…until I passed the running store.  That’s when regret and guilt hit. Why hadn’t I stopped here first?!  I felt like I was cheating on running with cute clothes…and I wear running clothes every day.  I willed myself to keep walking, but I couldn’t resist the urge to step inside. Instantly, I wished I had saved some money for the shoes, clothes, and accessories in the store. That’s why I made my 2011 running Christmas wish list that I am sharing with you today…runners and friends of runners take note-these presents may be perfect for you or your running friend! 1.


Turkey Trot

11/14/11 3:11am

The only thing better than the feeling of sitting down with your family to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal is knowing that you worked for this meal.


It's Fall! Get outdoors and Run!

11/7/11 7:58pm

Leaves have changed the tree line from lush green to brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow and are beginning to fall in every direction.  I don’t know if it is the crunch beneath my feet with every stride or the smell of earth from the falling leaves, but there is something about fall that makes running during the fall truly majestic. Maybe it’s those mornings where I can see my breath, feel the cool air entering and exiting my lungs, and really feel my body working to maintain the rhythm of breathing, striding, breathing, striding. It’s an amazing time of year to go out for a run, and yes, runs around campus are perfect for time-crunched days where runs need to be as simple as possible.  But I challenge everyone to find one day this fall and leave Elon for a national or state park to go for a run or even a long hike and see how far away you can feel from school and stress for a few hours. The following parks are within one hour of campus, and all offer at least three miles of trails to explore on your next run … just make sure to read the maps before heading out -- a 5-mile run could turn into 11 miles if you’re not careful! Umstead Park William B.


Get a taste of fall while helping your body

10/7/11 8:31pm

Sure the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks is a delicious way to taste the fall season, but are you willing to counter your crisp autumn run by consuming 13 grams of fat and 380 calories?  If your answer is no but you’ve still been craving fall foods post-workout (and all other times of the day), I have compiled a few post-workout meal ideas and recipes that not only taste great but also have extra benefits to help you recover faster and stronger for your next workout. Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash With protein and potassium from the chicken and squash, this meal promotes muscle growth and healthy bones to keep workouts strong.  Squash is in season early fall through winter, and in addition to having bone-health promoting potassium, it offers a good source of antioxidants, which are a natural anti-inflammatory. Pumpkin Oatmeal This meal offers immune-fighting carotenoids and Vitamin C found in the pumpkin and both soluble and insoluble fiber in the pumpkin and oats.  The two types of fiber work together to fight cancer, lower cholesterol and restore carbohydrates lost in a workout.  For even more fall-rich flavor, add protein rich pecans to your oatmeal. Fresh Figs with Walnuts and Maple Syrup A good source of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, figs are power-recovery foods that will not weigh you down for your next training session.  The magnesium in the figs helps prevent cramps while working out and promotes calcium absorption in the bones.  The other main ingredient in this simple dish is maple syrup, which also contains magnesium and zinc, both of which benefit the body’s immune system to help and defensed against getting sick.


So you want to go for a run around campus...

9/26/11 10:42pm

The freshmen are beginning to find their way around campus, the upperclassmen are adjusting to their off-campus apartments and houses, and it finally feels like you can breathe again (without the thick humidity and hectic frenzy of the first few weeks of school). With this extra time and sense of direction, its the perfect time to start running regularly.  Where to? The Elon University Cross Country course (also known as the intramural fields) has miles of grassy cut-throughs and trails that can easily turn a boring neighborhood jog into a challenging all-terrain run.  Just past the railroad tracks, the course offers rolling hills and a softer surface than hard cement and asphalt. When you wear the course out, there are plenty of relatively safe neighborhoods, and parks around Elon.  For those mileage perfectionists who count every tenth of a mile (guilty one right here...), there are great websites where you can track every turn of your run before-or after- you go out. Personally, I use walkjogrun.net to map out all my runs, but mapmyrun.com is also a great site where you can track miles. Both sites have search engines where you can type in your location (Elon, NC), and browse through routes mapped out by different users.


Tone up in 10

8/11/11 8:45pm

Nicole Esplin School starts in less than two weeks for Elon students.  Whether you’re a casual or a competitive athlete, you probably want to begin school in shape and looking fit after summer.  Over the summer working at cross country camp, one of my friends showed me this quick, full body workout that strengthens and tightens your arms, abs, and legs…and takes less than 10 minutes! The workout consists of three simple exercises: Crunches (or sit-ups), squats, and pushups.  Start with 10 reps of each exercise, and then work down (9 reps of each exercise, 8, 7, 6, etc, all the way to 1).  The key to make this workout effective is to complete every rep, and make sure there is little to no rest time between sets. By the end, you will have done 50 pushups, 50 sit-ups, and 50 squats…do this 3 times a week, and you’ll notice a difference in your tone and performance.


Kickin' It

8/5/11 4:41pm

Nicole Esplin Strides can be a pain for many runners.  The last thing most runners what to do after they finish a run in the summer heat is to run repeats at an even faster pace for at least 100 meters.  But they’re necessary.  In high school, I didn’t worry about strides when my coach wasn’t breathing down my neck and making me do them, and I paid for it in races.  It’s similar to doing abs-you don’t realize how much you benefit from something pretty easy and quick until you start doing them.  Once I started doing strides, my kick at the end of races improved, and instead of losing 5 places in the last 400 meters of a 5k, I found that I could even increase my place. Strides benefit runners in the long run, and you may not see improvement until you race, so they are extremely easy to put off until a later run.  They are just as easy to keep putting off until you realize 3 weeks have gone by and you still haven’t done any strides.  One way to guarantee to do strides at the end of a run is to choose one or two days a week to always do strides.  My days are Mondays and Fridays, so when I being my run on those days, I know that my run doesn’t end when my route ends…it ends when my last stride is finished. I have begun to visualize the end of a race and how I want to feel during the last 5 minutes of my run.  This way, I am thinking about racing, and reminding myself of my ultimate goal of breaking my PRs during cross country season. Strides can be as long as 200 meters or as short as 50 meters, but most coaches recommend 100-meter strides.  They should be almost sprinting (and as a long distance runner, most of the time I end up sprinting).  To start, I would suggest 4x100 meter strides with as much rest as you need.  Just remember to keep moving during rest periods!  Once you are comfortable doing that, you can run 8x100 meter strides, 6x200 meter strides, or even find a small incline and run some strides up a low grade hill to improve hill endurance and leg speed. If this article hasn’t inspired you to stride at the end of a run, I’ve attached a video from the 1972 Olympics where David Wottle runs most of the race in last place until the last 200 meters…you better bet he did his strides at the end of his runs! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LHid-nC45k&feature=player_embedded]


Put some new shoes on

7/6/11 5:19pm

When I moved back home from Elon for the summer, I faced a problem:  my room wasn’t big enough to fit everything from my college dorm (I blame Tanger Outlets grand opening for the majority of this problem).  I decided I had to go through all my old clothes…and shoes.  No, not like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.  It wasn’t stilettos I was cleaning out of my closet; it was running shoes-of every color, from every brand.  While I admit, buying new running shoes is a guilty pleasure of mine (going out on the trails with a new pair of shoes will guarantee at least one running buddy to enviously eye your bright, clean shoes), buying new shoes frequently is essential for any runner. Jason Broll is a running specialist at Raleigh Running Outfitters in Raleigh, NC.


Make the most of your local pool this summer by adding in pool workouts

6/13/11 3:20pm

Are you making the most of your neighborhood pool?  Until recently, the pool has only been useful to me when I’ve been in need of a tan, some eye candy, or a few extra dollars (made by life guarding).  Last summer when I was injured and unable to run, I learned the art of exercising in the pool, and how useful neighborhood pools can be (and later, when my pool closed, how convenient they are!).  From running in the pool to swimming laps, I’ve compiled a few great workouts to help you stay in shape if you’re an injured runner, or to get into better shape while cooling off in the pool! 1.    Aqua Jog- Running outside is great when it’s not humid and 60 degrees out, but it can get dangerous when temperatures soar and humidity builds during the summer.  When the only safe time to run is at 7 am, and it just isn’t possible to wake up that early, aqua jogging is a great substitute to running.  The goal of an aqua-jogging workout is to mimic a run on land.  Take advantage of the deep end of your pool and move your arms and legs in the same way you would if you were running on land.  At first, it will feel weird.  To help beginners flot, aqua jogging belts can be used, but I would recommend not using the belt, and starting out for a shorter period of time and gradually increase the length of the workout as fitness increases.  Workouts can be long, steady jogs or more intense intervals, depending on what you want out of the workout.  If you’re the type of person who gets bored running in the same place for a period of time, try visualizing that you are running outside or on a track.  This has really helped me.  Bringing friends and a stereo is another great way to be entertained while aqua jogging!  Two examples of workouts are listed below. 30-Minute Interval Workout 10 minute warm-up (jog at an easy pace) 10 x 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds easy 10-15 min cool down 60-Minute Intervals and Endurance 10 minute warm-up 20 minutes increasing effort every 5 minutes 10 x I minute faster, 1 minute easy 10 minute cooldown 2.    Swim laps-  Grab some goggles and a cap (especially if you have long hair), and challenge yourself to swim a mile (64 laps).  If the idea of swimming straight for 64 laps, or 1650 yards seems boring and daunting, switch it up by swimming 10 laps warm up, then add a short interval workout for the next 40 laps, and take it easy for the last 14 laps.  The intervals can be as simple as one lap fast one lap easy, or as complex as 10 x 4 laps “build”, or increasing speed every lap until you reach sprint speed.  Bring a kickboard along if you want extra leg work, and challenge yourself to swim half of it just kicking.


Challenge yourself to a 5k and become a runner: mentally and physically

6/8/11 5:20pm

It all started with one 5k.  Three miles, two feet, and one long blonde ponytail flying behind a skinny 7 year old girl with the biggest smile on her face.  I’m still uncertain whether it was the endorphins from running or the door prizes given out at the end of the race, but from the moment I finished my first road race, was sure of one thing: I was a running adict. As a member of the cross country team in high school, my passion for running and all types of exercise grew.  I set my sights on running in college, and am currently a member of the Elon track and cross country teams.  This blog isn’t about training to become an elite athlete.  There’s plenty of blogs like that on the Internet, and, they’re intimidating, I know.  This isn’t meant to intimidate, it’s meant to inspire.   My goal is to share the how and why of exercising.  This summer, I challenge you to make a change.  Become more active, even if you already exercise daily, make some kind of change so when you return to Elon, your friends, and most importantly, you will notice a difference in how you feel, act, and look. Whether you’re an experienced runner or new to the sport, summer is a great time to train for a road race.  It can be a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon.  Set a goal race to participate in, and start training.  Go out for runs, do core work, and actually train.  If you don’t see yourself as a runner right now, start thinking “I am a runner”.  Eat like a runner, think like a runner, if you’re going out for runs consistently, you are a runner.  I really improved and started to love running when I began seeing myself as a runner.