Ultramarathon Tips from Dr. Sara Bell, DPT

Sara Bell

Sara Bell is one of our talented Physical Therapists at Lone Peak Physical Therapy.  Sara shares a unique passion for running ultramarathons. An ultramarathon is a footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 26. 2 miles or 42.195 kilometers. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sara over Thai food and pick her brain on how she went from a college basketball player to an ultra-distance runner. In this article, Sara also shares her keys running a successful ultramarathon.

Sara is originally from Dell Rapids, South Dakota.  Sara says, “Since elementary school, I have always been running.”  Sara ran cross-country in grade school and high school. Then as Sara grew to her 6’2” height, she began to play basketball in high school.  She played basketball through college at Dakota State while studying Exercise Science and Athletic Training. Sara then decided to pursue a career in physical therapy and got accepted to the University of Missouri for Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.  She wanted to keep running in graduate school so she joined a running group to learn the trails around the school.   That is when she signed up for her first Rock N Roll marathon. Sara shares, “Running was about being social and getting to know people.”

Following her graduation from physical therapy school in 2010, Sara took her first job at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. This is where Sara’s journey to ultramarathons began. One of Sara’s friends, recommended a 50 mile trail race called the North Face Endurance Challenge. Sara, without hesitation, signed up and began her training. Sara remembers that race being a huge learning experience. Sara reports, “I had 10 miles to go to the finish line and I was starting to get blisters. I began to lose my mental composure. Someone recommended putting powder on my feet to help with the blisters, but it just made it worse. At that point, I continued to lose my composure until I saw one of my girlfriends around the corner who had to come to run the last 6 miles with me.” Sara was able to complete her first 50 miler successfully.  She was emotionally spent from giving it all she had, but had the remarkable joy of accomplishment. Sara has gone on to complete 5 ultra-distance races to date.  She says the best advice she has received from friends was “Walk early, walk often. And keep eating. If you can keep eating, you can keep running.”

Sara shared a few of her tips for running ultra-marathons.

1.       Get time on your feet. A goal during peak training should be to run the distance you will run during the race in a week.

2.       Have an accountability partner to run and train with.

3.       Appreciate the beautiful places you are running in and the people you meet along the way.

4.       Find a pace you could run all day.

5.       Put petroleum jelly all over your feet, between your toes and then put your socks on to avoid getting blisters.

Sara is currently training for her first 100K in July of this year.  You can find Sara working at our Lone Peak Physical Therapy office in Four Corners.


“Start where you are. Hike, run, just get started. Start trotting, just start moving!” – SARA BELL