What Do Dreams About Running Mean?

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Last Modified 22 February 2024   First Added 22 August 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What Does it Mean to Dream of Running?

Alas, we don’t burn off extra calories when we dream about running – wouldn’t that be nice? But understanding the significance of these dreams can help to improve your waking life. And the meaning depends greatly on who you are. If you’re a sporty person who regularly runs to keep fit then this is a perfectly normal dream for you to have.

However, if the only time you’re ever likely to do any kind of running is chasing after a bus, then this dream is likely to have a deeper meaning. According to Alo Dreams, when you have a running dream you may be trying to escape something, or be running away from a situation, somebody or something. Alternatively, you may be chasing after a life goal and this dream could be a representation of some of the challenges you’re about to face.

The dream:

You’re running along a busy street as fast as your legs can carry you, accompanied only by the sound of your own heavy breathing.

Then, in a flash, the street scene fades away. The next moment you find yourself running a lap around an athletics track. Overtaking a pack of some of the world’s top competitors with ease, the whole of the packed stadium cheers you on to victory.

The scene switches again. From running for gold, you find yourself running for your life! You’re on an African savanna, running from a hungry-looking lion who wants you to be his lunch. But just as he’s about to pounce, you wake up. Breathing heavily. Safely tucked up in bed. It was all just a vivid dream. But what could it all mean?

Variations of the dream:

As dreams about running are very common, there are many interpretations about their meaning. Often, it’s about fitness and freedom. Other readings suggest a lack of self confidence, stress or anxiety as the reasons for having this kind of dream.

Here’s a few of the more common beliefs around dreams where you are dashing, jogging or sprinting.

1. Dreams about running and hiding from someone

If you ever dream of running away from someone or something, you can be reassured it’s quite a common dream theme, usually related to some form of stress. This stress can activate our ancient fight-and-flight mode, and according to Psych Mechanics, dreaming about running away is the dream version of being in flight mode. So if you have this feeling you’re far from alone. This survival response is present in almost all animals and running away and hiding from a threat is a way we’re wired to deal with the stresses and dangers of life.

2. Dreams about running and hiding from police

Running and hiding from the police in a dream is a warning alert for phoniness, fakeness and deceit, says Dreamsopedia who advise responding by slowing down and not trying to please everyone. If you do have this unnerving dream you may also be too concerned about what other people think. This dream is also said to be a warning signal for feelings of inadequacy and a lack of discipline in your life.

3. Dreams about running away

Running away from someone or something can be a particularly disturbing dream to have. If you wake up feeling shaken up, consider why you feel this way. Why not jot down what you’ve dreamed about as soon as possible to keep it fresh in your mind so you can interpret the dream later?

If you dream about running away, the interpretation is not as simple as you are running away from something in your waking life. How you feel and who or what you’re running away from will affect the meaning of the dream. According to Luciding, the dream may not be about running away from a person, but could be about escaping an unwelcome situation like family conflict or a nasty work atmosphere.

Take a look at our article on sleep paralysis.

4. Dreams about running for exercise

If you’ve ever woken up after running or jogging through a dreamscape it may well have left you feeling shaken. This is a very intense, even possibly frightening dream so it’s reassuring to know that it’s said to prove you’re free, stressed, inquisitive, perceptive, innovative, and you’re very pleased with the things that make you different.

5. Dreaming about running towards someone or something

You may be happy to learn that dreams in which you were running towards someone or something, are usually a very positive sign. They might indicate pursuing your goals, and overcoming obstacles with ease. Such dreams are a sign of being on the right path and achieving your goals and desires.

However, in some cases, these dreams could indicate you may be overly dependent on a partner. You may feel strangely drawn to situations or people you know are bad for you, but you keep on going back to them. You may find it useful to reflect on this.

Answering the dream:

Although there may not be a definite meaning, your brain is processing things as you sleep, so it can show areas that need your attention. As mentioned earlier, dreaming about running usually reflect positive meanings, it’s probably a good sign that you’re pursuing your goals in life.


Notable appearances in popular culture:

From fringe sport to a way of life, running has become an integral part of our culture, reports Women’s Running. Indeed, “Running used to be a fringe sport, enjoyed by a small handful of very thin, very fit and likely very crazy individuals running circles around a track in pursuit of Olympic gold. Marathons were rarely, if ever, in the public consciousness—in 1965, the Boston Marathon touted only 447 participants, all of them male.

“In the 1970s, men and women took up jogging, a new fitness trend encouraged by doctors for health and weight loss. With it, a cottage industry sprang up to cater to amateur athletes—Blue Ribbon Sports, which eventually became Nike, created shoes and gear; other companies soon followed and with them, endorsement deals that created the first running celebrities out of Steve Prefontaine and Joan Benoit. Suddenly, it was cool to run.”

Nowadays running has a central position in popular culture and is covered on television, books and even in dedicated magazines. Chariots of Fire is the most critically acclaimed film ever made about running. Its evocative electronic theme tune is still the go-to soundtrack whenever we see someone running in slow-motion on television. The quadruple Oscar-winning film tells the true story of two British athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

But when it comes to cinematic appearances, Forrest Gump features arguably the most famous running scenes captured on film. “Run Forrest Run,” anyone?

Find out more about dreams that evoke strong emotions by reading our articles on being chased in your dream, why your teeth fall out in your dream and what it means to be late in your dream.

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