Runner's Prerace Anxiety Dreams Taking Weirdly Dark Turn

A local runner’s prerace dreams have taken a disturbing turn, Dumb Runner has learned, lurching from “garden-variety anxiety about being late or unprepared” to weird, dark, and even sinister.

Fred Krueger, 35, said he’s unable to explain the shift—but it’s beginning to freak him out.

“I’ve been running and racing for years,” he said, “and I’m used to prerace jitters and the dreams they can inspire. But the dreams I’ve been having lately are… not normal.”

Typically, Krueger said, his prerace dreams involve scenarios that will be familiar to most runners: Frantically trying to put on his shoes while the race begins without him; being stuck in traffic en route to the race and missing the start time; running the race, but feeling as if he’s moving through quicksand; and so on.

Recently, he said, they are something else altogether. He cited the previous night’s dream as an example. While it began normally, it soon turned bizarre.

“I was in a parking lot lacing my shoes when I heard the National Anthem begin to play, like, a mile away,” he said. “The race was starting and I was going to miss it. That was bad enough, but then everything changed and I was in the race, running—but instead of a normal race course it was a barren, bleak hellscape where the volcanic rock underfoot groaned and wept like babies. And instead of other runners around me, there were thousands of identical, charred toddler-looking creatures. I was the only tall person around, except I looked charred and scary, too, and I really, really had to pee. But there wasn’t a porta potty in sight.”

The small creatures were mumbling in unison, said Krueger, in what appeared to be Spanish.

Other recent dreams, he said, have featured official race shirts that pursued and devoured him; laughing aid station volunteers offering cups of human blood; and a 50-foot-tall Dave McGillivray dressed as Paul Bunyan, wielding an axe that morphed into a bullhorn and obliviously crushing runners underfoot as he delivered prerace instructions.

“Not even dreams, really,” Krueger said. “These are straight-up nightmares.”

With Krueger’s race still a few weeks away, he’s begun to dread falling asleep each night. And his running dreams have him wondering if it might be time to give up running altogether.

“Maybe I’ll take up something less scary,” he said. “Like free solo rock climbing.”