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Common Runner Dreams And What They Really Mean

Sweat Dreams

“You were doing it again last night,” says my husband over breakfast.  “Doing what?” I ask innocently.  “Running in your sleep,” he replies.

It’s true. I do this a lot. And it really ramps up right before a race. Sometimes I kick him as I enter the final sprint to the finish. Other times I push him out of the way muttering that I’m going to be late for the start.

Thankfully, I’m not alone. A friend once confided in me that she had a dream that Danny DeVito beat her in her upcoming marathon and totally stole her finish line thunder. But what does it all mean? We had dream expert and life coach Anna-Karin Bjorklund decipher some common runner’s dreams to reveal all.

Related: 6 Dreams All Runners Have 

The Face Plant

The Dream: You’re enjoying the run of your life when suddenly you trip and find yourself rudely awakened by that horrible, stomach-dropping, falling sensation.

The Interpretation: “Focusing on winning is a good thing but focusing too much on winning can place unrealistic expectations on us, which can cause emotional stress.  Our dreams have a wonderful function called compensation which helps us correct our focus and bring balance back. Keep thinking positively but also learn to give yourself a break.  You don’t have to set a new PR every time.”

Start Line Struggle

The Dream:  You’re trying to get to the start line of your big race but somehow, you just can’t. Traffic, crowds, roads that almost get there but turn away at the last minute; will you make it in time?

The Interpretation: “When we prepare for a race, it is not uncommon for our personal lives to feel a bit unbalanced and this type of dream could indicate that you feel a bit lost right now. We focus so intensely on the race that we literally loose ourselves. Finding yourself again could be as simple as re-connecting with a good friend over coffee.”

Shoeless Wonder

The Dream: You’re all set and ready to race. There’s just one problem. You seem to have forgotten your shoes.

The Interpretation: “Quite simply, this dream means we feel unprepared and our unconscious is using the only example our mind understands, the only thing that’s essential to running: our shoes. Maybe it’s time to revisit your training plan, talk over your progress with a coach or a running buddy and try to reassure yourself that you’re where you need to be to hit your goals.”

Nudely Awakened

The Dream: A step further than simply forgetting shoes, this dream is a classic that’s guaranteed to have you wake with a shudder.

The Interpretation: “Dreams of being naked often symbolize feeling exposed, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Are you afraid of being seen for who you really are? If you’re new to running maybe you still feel like a fraud when you turn up at races? Or maybe you’re new to a certain pace and you still feel out of your depth? Everyone feels like this at some point in their running career. Just take a deep breath and tell yourself you’ve got this.”

Races With Familiar Faces

The Dream: You’re running along when suddenly you see someone you know—a movie star, a neighbor, a face from the past. Hey, there’s Danny DeVito. I didn’t know he ran marathons!

The Interpretation: “Dreams like this can signify a feeling that other people don’t understand how hard you train. In this dream, it’s other people who are imposters.  Maybe you feel tired of others undermining your efforts? Remember, comparing yourself to others can be really damaging to your self esteem and your sense of accomplishment. Run your own race and train your own way.”

Obstacles Outta Nowhere

The Dream: You’re in the race but something’s not quite right. Why am I running towards a giant slip ‘n’ slide? Are those cargo nets up ahead? Since when does Boston have monkey bars?

The Interpretation: “Unforeseen obstacles in dreams can represent external changes happening in your life which you might not be fully comfortable with. Maybe these changes are impacting on your training plan: like an unexpected work trip or an illness that’s floored you. We can never fully prepare for change. What we can do however is prepare for how we handle challenges. You’ll get over that flu, you’ll manage your work schedule. You just have to learn to roll with it.”