5 Running Dreams Interpreted by Catnip

fri5There I was, breathing hard and going for a big PR. Everything was going according to plan … until we took an unexpected turn off the pavement into some sand. Huh, I thought to my race-weary self.  And then I look ahead and my competitors are swimming like dolphins in a river of rainbow colored water. I, on the other hand, was flailing my weak runner arms and trying not to snort water up my nose.

***BEEP!*** ***BEEP!*** ***BEEP!****

What a relief, it was just a dream! Talking to the other Salties, I’ve come to realize that running dreams are pretty common. But what do they mean?

As your resident Certified A+ Interpretess of All Things Dreamy (what? I got my certificate at the Dream Institute of My Bedroom on Thursday night), I’ve analyzed 5 of the most common running dreams to help you make sense of the madness.

Ginger is not quite ready for her dream 5k.
Ginger’s all ready for her dream 5k.

1. You’ve arrived at your goal race fit and uninjured but butt naked.

Catnip’s interpretation: Time for a wardrobe update! Whip out that credit card and hit up the running store. You definitely need a new pair of shoes, too.

2. You’re running a race with an impossibly confusing route. Maybe it’s a 5k with stairs. And indoor detours. And confusing directional markings and maybe even a dead end! 

Catnip’s interpretation: You’re bored with the 5 mile loop. Change up your route. Consider parkour!

3. Your legs are heavy cement blocks and you’re moving in slow motion. Other runners gallop by effortlessly.

Catnip’s interpretation: You bonked. Try a gel before bed next time.

4. Holy fartlek, you’re winning the race! The crowd goes wild!

Catnip’s interpretation: Clearly you’re destined for success and can now quit your day job and immediately enter all the USATF championship races.

5. You pooped your shorts.

Catnip’s interpretation: Shorts are bad. Run naked.

Tell us your dreams in the comments and we’ll intepret them for you! 

I'm a 20-year veteran of competitive running, USATF certified coach, mom of a toddler -- and still trying to set PRs. I write about training from 5k to marathon, motherhood and competitive running, and the elite side of the sport. The 5k is my favorite race (16:56 PR) but I've got a score to settle with the marathon.

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  1. I’m hesitant to share my dream because there is no way it has a good interpretation! Tomorrow, I am attempting to BQ at the Indy Monumental (goal 3:30 but BQ time 3:35). I had a dream last week that I was at 3:18 at mile 23 and got super pissed. I made myself wake up after I saw my Garmin!

  2. I have one where I’m trying to run, but my body just won’t go. I keep falling or am so weak I can’t get myself to move forward and I feel completely dismayed and frustrated. What could it mean?!?!?

    1. Pimento’s interpretation: your subconscious is reminding you of how you would be if you weren’t a runner so when you wake up in the strong, capable, bad-ass body/mindset you actually reside in you are 100% to rock your race.

      1. Yes! The relief we feel when we wake up and actually CAN run is the whole point of that one: the not being able to move your legs is a reminder not to be ab ungrateful a-hole!

    1. Salty’s interpretation: your next goal race isn’t for 11 months. Eat cookies and enjoy dreams about software or losing your teeth while you can.

  3. Usually I dream of being chased while running or in high intensity movie scene. You know, adrenaline pumping music, crossing a finish line and speeding away in a getaway car. Apparently we watch too many action movies.

    Race dreams, the usual- “my legs won’t move”.

  4. I always get lost on my way to the start and get there after the race started– but the officials tell me to go ahead and start because it’s chip-timed. I end up running through a strange city in the dark, as the race is being cleaned up, with no aid stations and no spectators. Oddly, I didn’t dream about NYC once before the race this time.

  5. I had a dream a few months ago that I woke up on race day and it was snowing and I was super excited about running in the snow. In real life we get snow that sticks maybe once every two years here, and I’ve NEVER run in it. Clearly I was breaking the nothing new on race day rule!

  6. Contrary to the picture, I never had a naked running dream. Nor have I ever run naked but it was fun to pretend. I usually have the running in a school dream, showing up to a race late, or the race being interrupted.

  7. This is hilarious. I have a recurring dream that I am running a marathon through a house. There are arrows that point you into different rooms, up the stairs, etc, and usually you run a circle and zig-zags in the room. But I always get lost and confused! What does that mean??