Psychoanalyze this!

The other night, I had a dream that I was running a marathon. Instead of running a normal race course (loop or out-and-back), everyone had to run back and forth across a gigantic field. It was like, 3 miles long. To my surprise, I was in the lead for the first 3 to 6 miles, but then I started getting REALLY tired, to the point where I started crawling. I looked back and saw that people were catching up to me, but I still couldn’t run. That’s pretty much all that I remember.

What does this all mean?? I haven’t even registered for a marathon yet, and I’m already having anxiety dreams?

The ironic thing is that on a conscious level, I’m not anxious at all. On Sunday, I’ll be running my 3rd half marathon. Even though it will be the most challenging one yet, I feel surprisingly calm about it. I haven’t been freaking out of about pre-race activities (eating, drinking, sleeping) like I was before the Oakland Half. So, it’s weird that I’m having these anxiety dreams. (I’ve also been having ones where the race course is all screwed up… perhaps a remnant of the Tilden Tough Ten mishap.)
(UPDATE: Since writing this post last night, I feel slightly more anxious about the race on Sunday. It didn’t help that my run this morning, which was supposed to be gentle and easy, felt much harder than it should’ve been at a 10:05 pace. Also, the weather is getting warm again after a brief cool spell. Drats, there goes my Zen.)

Dreams are funny. I remember when I was recovering from ACL surgery, I started having recurring dreams about running. This was at about 6-8 weeks post-op, when I could barely walk without a noticeable limp or stand for long periods of time without extreme pain or swelling in my leg. My physical therapist told me that it was a very normal part of the recovery process — that people want to get better so badly that their subconscious gives them a brief glimpse of full recovery.

Anyway, I don’t really know what my point is here, but I just thought I’d ramble on a bit about dreams and whether they mean anything.

Do you ever have dreams (good or bad) about running? Are they correlated with specific events (e.g., races, training, injuries)? What do you think my marathon anxiety dream means?


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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6 comments on “Psychoanalyze this!
  1. Nicole says:

    Oh, man, I used to get running anxiety dreams all the time. I would be trying to run, but it wasn’t working out. Like, I was making the motions, but then my leg or arm would shoot out at an odd angle, and I would feel like I was running in slow motion. My coach or parents were always standing nearby shaking their heads in disappointment at me. I haven’t had those dreams in a long time!

    • Jen says:

      Haha. I’ve had the slow mo/awkward running dreams, but they’ve never featured people shaking their heads at me. How horrible!

  2. aewills says:

    I definitely have two phases of running dreams: the really fabulous ones where I’m out for a run, knowing that I’m running really fast, much faster than usual, and yet everything feels easy and light and I’m not even breathing hard. Those are the best.
    And then I have ones a lot like what Nicole describes, where I’m trying to run but my limbs are unbearably heavy or stuck, and I’m moving in super-slow motion. When I wake up from those I often am physically straining my legs forward in bed.
    Yours sounds kind of like both phases in one–maybe you were off on a really good, confident running dream, but then some part of you doubted your own performance, and overcompensated by slowing you down to a crawl?

    • Jen says:

      This may have been the first dream I’ve had where I was actually running well. Maybe I have a fear of going out too fast and bonking?

  3. MR DETERMINED says:

    Sounds like your dream just means that although you feel ready for a marathon on a concious level, deep down at some point in your life you had doubts. I’ve heard once you can remember a dream it means that you’re conciously ready to accept a thought wether it is true or not. Maybe a long time ago you had doubts that you may not be able to finish…so with you knowing you’re stronger and ready for your races you feel ready to accept such a theory on a concious level even though its no longer relevant. Psychoanalyzed enough haha? Whatever the reason it’s just a dream. Take a deep breath and have faith in yourself. I’m sure your doing to do great in this upcoming race.

    • Jen says:

      Hm, interesting. Well, I often remember my dreams, so I’m not sure that this dream in particular is especially significant. But it’s an interesting point about doubting myself vs. feeling strong. I know I definitely go back and forth on that.

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