Managing and Adjusting Expectations

I started running in 2013, after some friends asked me to sign up for a 5k color run. I loved the community and being able to run with my friends, and I worked my way up to a handful of half marathons before I decided to commit to my first full marathon in 2019. Crossing the finish line after months of training was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced (in addition to the Whataburger I inhaled on the way home, Tiny’s chocolate chip cookies, and an hourlong bath afterwards).

When I initially applied to become one of the 2022 race ambassadors, my goal was to complete my 2nd full marathon. I had taken a long break from running after that first full marathon. I continued working out in other ways – yoga, Lagree fitness, reformer Pilates, peloton, and other forms of high intensity workouts. But I missed my running community, and I followed along with my running group secretly wishing I was there with them.

I got the notification I was selected as a race ambassador at the end of May, and we had just found out we were pregnant in April. With a due date of 12/21/2021, I knew it was cutting it super close to being able to run at all, much less a full marathon, so with the okay of my doctor, I decided to instead run the half marathon. I was disappointed at first because I was looking forward to running the full marathon again and beating my first time, but as a physician myself, I knew that there was no way to predict how I would feel throughout this pregnancy.

And sure enough, my entire first trimester, I was nauseated and had extreme fatigue. It was a struggle just to get off the couch some days. I went from working out 6-7 days a week to nothing at all. The hardest part of this all for me was the expectation I had put on myself that I *had* to workout x amount of days/week, run x amount of days/week. I had to really give myself grace during the first few months. As I started to feel better entering 2nd trimester and my running group started having group runs, I was finally feeling more like myself, sticking to the schedule/training plan and my own workout regimen.

And then (life always throws you curveballs), I got relocated to Denver for work. In between getting our house ready and packing our life in Houston for our move over 1,000 miles, my workout regimen got thrown off again. Now at 5 months pregnant, I devoted my energy to our big move. There were days that all I could do was a 10–15-minute meditation or breathwork. I struggled with feeling disappointed that what I needed was to work out, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to workout.

We moved to Denver last month, and I am now 8 months pregnant! The weather is amazing and so are the trails. I’ve gotten in a handful of hikes anywhere from 2-4.5 miles, but what has felt the best for me is going outside our house and practicing yoga. I try to do yoga at least 2-3 times a week and, on the weekends, go on hikes or walks. As my baby boy gets bigger, I can’t handle higher impact runs and it has definitely taken some time to adjust to the altitude and dryness here as well. The hardest part was listening to my body and what I needed; some days I felt like I needed to just rest mentally, but a short 15–30-minute flow was truly what my body needed.

I wanted to share my story to share how important it is to manage expectations when it comes to running or working out and adjust as needed. This can apply to pregnancy or recovering from an injury as well. Too often we push ourselves because we have certain goals in mind, and we don’t give ourselves grace or flexibility to realize that while it’s great to have goals, it’s also equally important to be flexible. Life happens, and unfortunately, injuries also happen. I love all kinds of fitness because of how it makes me feel, but also, I know how important it is to rest and recovery, and how important it is to incorporate different kinds of fitness to prevent injury. Even when I was training for a marathon or half marathon, I would make sure to add a day or two of yoga, and a day or two of strength training in addition to my running plan.

I’m disappointed I will be unable to come back to Houston to run this year, but I hope to continue sharing my pregnancy journey with you all as well as my postpartum journey once I start running again and I plan to be back in Houston to run my 2nd full marathon next year.

As always, when it comes to your workout routine and what you should do, please check with your physician. Do you have a pregnancy journey to share with me? I would absolutely love to hear from you. Connect with me on IG @michelledangmd

Blog written by #houambassador Michelle Dang