Articles by Sarah Lavender Smith

One Last Hurrah

Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the end of the calendar year brings colder temps, shorter days, rain and perhaps snow. Between Thanksgiving and January, I tend to run less and sleep and eat more, as if trans...

How to Define Mountain Running

I live at 9,000 feet on a mesa surrounded by mountains that rise sharply to 13,000-foot peaks. Sometimes I get introduced as “the runner,” which makes the person I’m meeting look at me with a mix of admiration and ske...

Create Longevity in the Sport

Like many runners, my life’s timeline cleaves distinctly into two periods: before I became a runner and after. I can’t say this about any other profession or hobby I’ve taken up over the decades. Only parenting – beco...

Where to Run Around the San Juan Mountains

Every summer, countless trail runners make a pilgrimage to the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado to experience mountain running. Most nurture a desire to run parts of the Hardrock 100 course, which forms a gian...

Training Mistakes to Avoid

After my first long run of the new year, I could barely walk downstairs due to quad and knee soreness. I had only run 21 miles, but it was the first time I had run longer than three hours in two months. I had told m...

Run Long During Cold Months

There came a day in early 2020 when I wondered if, perhaps, I had taken this winter running thing too far. My eyelashes froze into icy triangles, and my lips numbed as they touched the frigid crust of fabric wrapped...

Anna Frost: From Podiums to Parenting

While running the 40-mile Telluride Mountain Run in late August—an extremely tough high-altitude ultra that circumnavigates the town and crosses four mountain passes—I felt a bit glum that I didn’t recognize any of th...

The Team Makes the Ultra

L-R: Billy Yang, Naomi Lee, runner Soon-Chul Choi, Jenny Perez Alvarez and Sarah at the Cocodona 250. Naomi Lee We reached the aid station after midnight and a rented deluxe SUV had been prep...

Gear Bag Overkill

High on my closet shelf sits a couple of gear bags along with some assorted accessories. As I climb a stepping stool to access and organize this ultra gear shelf in advance of a 100-mile race, I ponder what an anthrop...

Know Your Motivators

As I worked with a client to develop a training block for the first four months of this year, she considered a 50k in March and said, “I’m just going to run it for fun.” I hear that phrase all the time, and I underst...

New Challenges in 2021

Ultrarunners often talk with excitement about the races they plan to train for in 2021. Western States, Hardrock, UTMB and numerous ultras hold an almost sacred place in our minds, representing hope and faith in a bri...

Survival of the Fittest

Almost everyone I know has had a rough year, even cataclysmic for some. Friends were furloughed from their jobs, and many have had to manage work with schooling their kids at home. Some had to evacuate during fast-moving...

The Self-Supported Stage Race

They travel internationally from countries around the globe to race together, run with enough food and gear for seven days in lightweight packs on their backs and traverse some 250 kilometers over remote, rugged terrain,...

Listen to Your Mom: Be Prepared

“Anything can happen in the mountains,” I tell my 19-year-old son, Kyle, as I show him how to use the SOS button on my GPS tracking device. When I hand him a windbreaker, he looks at me as if I’m insane, because we’re li...

Running Up for Air

I kicked my shoe into a snowy slope to gain traction, planted both trekking poles in front of my body for leverage, then laboriously took a single step and paused to catch my breath. I was on my fifth trek to the summit...

Why I Run Ultras

Leaving my house for my first long run in two months, I feel ambivalent about going 25 miles. Part of me senses I’ll cut it short at 20, because isn’t that enough? No, I need to log a solid five-hour run. But why?Recentl...

Spring Cleaning For Ultrarunners

The start of spring evokes themes of cleaning and regeneration. The longer days and greening of the hillsides traditionally prompt people to get organized and perhaps celebrate rebirth as part of a religious or pagan tra...

Getting Through Ultra Obstacles

I looked at the tall barbedwire fence that blocked the route and thought, “Is this a joke?” I was running past midnight in southern Utah during the 53-mile portion of the week-long Grand to Grand Ultra, a self-supported...

Self-Supported Stage Races

While packing for an upcoming ultra, I’m swapping my regular hydration pack for a 24-liter pack that’s a bit roomier and will enable self-sufficiency. It looks like a daypack and makes me wonder how on earth I’ll fit eve...