Taper week by Lillie Elkin

Lillie sitting

Lillie Elkin brings us her personal taper/race week routine. Now, here is Lillie: 
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The week before a race, here is my routine!
  • Saturday - I will usually do about a 45 min-1 hour easy trail run to start slowing things down.
  • Sunday - a rest day.
  • Monday - I will do another easy run, around 4 miles.
  • Tuesday - is a 3 mile run with 3 “bursts” of speed put in (a fartlek run pretty much, the speed and length of these bursts is by feel) and some pushups at the end to keep my upper body stimulated.
  • Wednesday - I may do a 2-mile run, but Wednesday and Thursday are usually rest days with an Epsom salt bath thrown in and foam rolling/stretching focused.
  • Friday - (the day before the race) is a 2 mile run at easy/moderate pace run with an Epsom salt bath afterward, and heavy foam rolling/stretching.

Nutrition
Nutrition is also something I really focus on. Starting the Saturday before race weekend and every day up until the race (including the morning of) I drink an electrolyte drink to ensure my body has all its stores built up and my muscles are ready to fire (this also really helps reduce the probability of cramping. Ever since I started doing this I have rarely ever cramped at races, including Tahoe and the Ultra in Colorado!). These drinks are coconut water-based, which reduces excess sugar intake and helps avoid a “bogged down” feeling.

I also really focus on trying to get plenty of veggies with every meal until Thursday evening, then I switch to just mainly carbs and unsaturated fats and very light protein intake for Friday (meat/protein digestion can take up a lot of energy and takes longer for your body to convert to glucose, and your nerves and brain cannot use glucose converted from protein for energy).

For dinner the night before a race I will usually eat some sort of pasta with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, *some* pork sausage, olive oil, some fresh Parmesan, bread, and super dark chocolate for dessert! It’s quite the opposite for Saturday dinners after I have raced in the morning and plan on racing again Sunday morning.

To recover from the Super or Beast and to get ready for a Sprint, I almost always have a super huge cheeseburger and ice cream or frozen yogurt. This method worked for me in Sacramento last year and Jacksonville! 

Plenty of sleep the week before is crucial as well. You want to go into the race feeling refreshed and ready to rock!

With all of that being said, it took me quite a while of experimenting and really honing in on the specifics of what works for me for a taper week. What works for me may be totally the opposite of what works for someone else! 

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Lillie has won almost all of the age groups races, series, and championships she ran in 2018 and 2019.  She committed to run only elite after defending her Age Group title at the World Championship in 2019. The next month, she went on to win both days elite in Sacramento.  

Starting off 2020, she placed 4th in the Jacksonville Super, and then 5th in the Sprint the next day as the first race of the US National Series against the best competition in the world.  

She can be followed on Instagram at Lillieelkin_spartanocr