Regardless of what competition I am getting ready for, or for which sport, about four weeks from the date, I start to have incredibly realistic and invasive dreams about the event, and in every single one of them, it’s going terribly, terribly wrong. This seems like a atrocious betrayal of my brain, in the weeks where I should be and often am trying to prioritize sleep and recovery, when things are getting hard for me both physically and mentally. I often go to bed half an hour or an hour earlier than usual in these weeks, in hopes of catching a few extra minutes of Zs in a night. All of this goes to waste when my brain decides it’s going to have itself a little anxiety party and play through all of the worse case scenarios it can concoct while I try to rest, which more often than not leads to me restlessly flopping around my bed and waking up exhausted.
In the weeks leading up to my stage debut as a figure pro last year, I dreamt that I was stuffing my face with avocados and cheese and peanut butter on the night before the show, after having checked in. Strangely, I was with Alberto Nuñez in this dream (I had been listening to a lot of the 3DMJ podcast…), while I was uncontrollably binge eating fat-laden treats and he was laughing at me while eating a loaf of bread.
Like, Berto, maybe you could have stepped in or something? But no, he was super calm about it. I would wake up panicking that I had sabotaged myself, mad as hell at a coach I hadn’t ever at the time met in person. I do commonly dream about fat-filled foods when I’m nearing stage condition, as my fat macros do get pretty low by that point, but this was so incredibly realistic that on more than one occasion I had to double check the peanut butter jar when I woke up.
Or this one, that popped up in my Facebook history:
Powerlifting meet prep dreams are always about meet day going awry. In one recurring dream, I leave my gym bag at home with all of my equipment and I have to do the entire meet without my wrist wraps or a belt. I rationalize to myself the entire dream that at least I have on my singlet and a pair of shoes that will be passable for all three lifts. In another, I get skipped over as they go through my lifting flight and the meet director refuses to listen to me, insisting that of course I was on the list and I already lifted. One night last week, I was lucky enough to have reprieve from the meet-day dream and have one only tangentially related to my powerlifting prep: I dreamt that I was trying to sleep (obviously because I was prioritizing my sleep in the lead to a meet!) and someone outside my back patio door in the bedroom was tearing down the fence. They kept peeking in to see if I was sleeping. I just kept getting so mad at them because I knew if I didn’t sleep, my lifts would go badly. I actually physically got out of bed twice to peek out the curtains to make sure nobody was, in fact, tearing down my fence, and was *lucky* enough to fall right back asleep into the same dream.
I haven’t slept restfully in six nights, thanks to dreams like this. I tried taking melatonin a few nights to see if that helped, as it often does, but that seemed to only intensify the dreams, and I woke up angry the next mornings, like a thunder cloud ready to clap.
But last night was perhaps one of the strangest pre-meet dreams I’ve ever had.
In my dream, I showed up on meet day to a two-platform event. I’ve never lifted in a meet with multiple platforms, so already this was strange. Then only one other girl showed up- so we each had our own platform, and were to perform every attempt consecutively, seeing as no other lifters were in out flight. None of the normal people were there- no spotters, no handlers, no coaches, nobody to load the bars- nobody.
We were to call our own attempts, do our own kilo math (AHHHHHH, please no!), load our own bars for each lift, and I guess just not fail lifts because there was nobody to save us.
The meet started with deadlifts first- which is absurd. Deadlifts come last. Squat –> Bench –> Deadlift. This is the order, no ifs ands or buts about it. I messed up my math and ended up not even knowing what I had lifted. We moved on to bench press from there, but nobody had brought the bench part of the rack to my platform, and it was my turn to lift. When I stepped off of the platform to retrieve it, I was penalized and forfeited my turn, with my “first attempt” being decided as a missed lift.
Now it bears noting that this dream was one of those where you are both in it as a character, experiencing it, and watching it as an observer, in your real life body asleep in your bed. I was having two separate thought processes- one as the lifter in the dream, and another as a person lying in my bed, confused as to what on earth was going on in my brain. My real life body was angry about this turn of events, and I am still not sure whether the teeth grinding that started around this time was real, or in my dream, but it was AGGRESSIVE, and I’m pretty sure it hurt my jaw. I was entirely unsure whether the extreme displacement of my lower jaw, so that my chin was aligned with the middle of my cheek and my bottom teeth were caught on ones that were not their partner from the top, was happening to my actual body, or just in my fucked up dream world.
Once I finally got the bench attached to the rack, I apparently couldn’t get my kilo math right and ultimately didn’t know what was going on with my phone calculator and messed everything up. We skipped squats altogether, which I only noticed as I was told to calculate my total and I found myself unable to due to not knowing what I had lifted, and missing one of my three lifts. More teeth grinding. More tossing and turning.
I woke up exhausted and confused.
Anyhow that’s how the first bit of my meet peaking is going.
Someone please tell me your brain is a fucked up chaos circus when you peak for a meet, too. Please.