I Can Do Hard Things And So Can You: What I Learned From Running My First Ultra Marathon

BB here, Keely’s Camp Marketing Manager! In both my personal life and in my coaching role at Keely’s Camp I have noticed a pattern that so many incredibly capable girls and women often don’t see their adeptness clearly when it comes to doing “hard things”. Growing up as an alpine ski racer in a family of nordic skiers and trail runners, I often felt like I wasn’t good at cardio based activities, such as running. I certainly never thought I would be able to (or want to) run 10 miles, let alone an ultra marathon. I decided to challenge this mindset and set a (somewhat crazy) goal to run the Teton Crest Trail here in Jackson Hole, WY. For context, my longest run ever before this experience was around 6 or 7 miles. The Teton Crest Trail, fondly known as the TCT, is a stunning ~42 mile traverse of the Teton Range with about 8,800 feet of elevation gain along the way. I am excited to share what I learned from this experience with all of you in the hopes it may inspire you to try something that is new, challenging, or out of your comfort zone. 

Your goals don’t have to be big to be important 

Setting small goals is an essential part of the process of achieving your bigger goals. Following through on goals, of any size, is so rewarding. As a part of my “training plan” I set a few trail running goals with shorter mileage to see how my body, and maybe more importantly my brain, would feel. I was lucky to have great company with many kind and experienced trail runner friends who taught me about pacing, fueling, and that yes, you are still trail running even if you walk all the uphills. One really important mindset shift happened for me on these training runs: I stopped seeing them as check-boxes to reach my bigger goal and started enjoying them as unique fun experiences themselves. 

Upping your snack game will change the entire experience

This sounds silly but I truly thought you had to eat Gu or other liquid nutrition to be a trail runner. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of most liquid calorie products apart from energy gummies. Once I figured out what kinds of foods I enjoyed eating on runs, which turned out to be turkey sandwiches, pickles, and cheese (I am a salty feign if you can’t tell) I started feeling so much stronger. A surprising challenge was figuring out just how much food I should bring on the TCT. I didn’t want to add extra weight to my running vest by bringing too much but I also knew that running out of food was not an option- see the photo above for reference on what I ended up packing.

Recreating with other women is so inspiring and fun

I wasn’t expecting that one of the most meaningful parts of this experience was getting to do it with one of my closest female friends. From our on-trail Barbie soundtrack dance party to her pep talk that brought me out of my pain cave in the last 7 miles, I truly could not have done it without her. I felt so comforted by having nothing to prove in her presence and was so inspired watching her crush the run alongside me. Recreating with other women makes me feel so empowered, strong, and excited!

It is never too late to try something new 

In my teenage years, my mother would have described me as someone who only liked things I was good at. While I have been pushing myself to ditch this mindset, I think it illuminates a common sentiment that trying new things can be so hard. When I started rock climbing in college I felt so embarrassed trying new boulder projects in front of other climbers in the gym. I distinctly remember someone telling me that everyone else was so caught up in thinking the same thing about themselves that they weren’t paying any attention to me. I have had so much fun trying new things once I let go of my fear of being seen as “bad” at something. 

You really are more so much more capable than you think. 

Keep moving mountains and keep trying new things! We truly love hearing about all of the adventures our Keely’s Camp Community gets up to. Please shoot us a DM on Instagram and tell us about what you have learned from challenging yourself.