Regular runs vs shift work - how to cope?

Cara HCara H ✭✭✭

Afternoon all image

Still pretty new to this, having started running in Feb with a C25k programme, and now steadily increasing distance and aiming for 10k. Ideally I'm trying to run every other day, or 3 times a week minimum. Problem is, I work 12hr shifts 3-4 times a week meaning I'm out of the house for about 14hrs a day, and I'm tired when I get home.

On C254k this wasn't a problem - I could manage the 20-30mins run after work if I had to, and in the early days of C25k I would run on consecutive days if I had days off work, since the work/effort required wasn't too much. On my 10k programme though, I'm struggling. Each week I'm trying to do 2 of the "Bridge to 10k" runs and one 5k run. I'm currently up to about an hour run/walking, so with the warm up and the walk back to the car (I have a 10k circular route that I love, and the aim is that one day I'll get round it all, but that day is a couple of weeks off yet) I'm out of the house for an hour and a half. It's just not feasible when I am up at 5am for work, usually not home until 8pm, then need to be up at 5 again the next day. When I do have time off I run, but, for example, I had yesterday off, and ran (had a lovely run, 5.5miles in 53mins) and I'm off today, but I'm not sure running that distance 2 days in a row when I'm a beginner is a good idea. I don't ache today but I am tired. Tomorrow I start a run of night shifts but have family duties in the daytime, and I'm away at the weekend (will be hillwalking but no running) so the next possible long run is Monday image

I can't be the only one with weird, irregular 12+hr shifts, so how do the rest of you manage? I'd like to see your schedules!




  • Hi Cara,

    I do shift work too. I'm on an oil rig so have 1 week of nights and 1 week of days. Officially they are all 12 hours shifts but the reality is slightly different. Friday I arrive on the rig have 5hours sleep then work a 16 hour shift. Then I have 12 hours shifts until thursday morning week 1. Thursday I have 16 hours off in the day then I work one 12hr shift followed by two 8 hour shifts with 8 hrs off inbetween. Saturday night I have have 12 hours off and work 12 hours every day until thurday week 2 when I work 16 hours then have 6 hours off before I go home.

    I know that my exercise plan will be different to yours as I have 14 days of 12 hours shifts but in case it is usefeul this is what I do.

    I try to run 3 times a week and cross train other days depending on whats happening. If is very unusual for me to manage more that 8 exercise sessions during 14 days, sometimes I only manage 6 image

    Week 1

    friday/saturday/sunday: Usually nothing image  I arrive on the rig, have lifeboat drills, safety meeting and a special saturday night meal and catch up on my sleep. If I feel very good I will row 2K and cross train for 20 min sunday or have short slow run.

    Monday afternoon before my night shift start(or tuesday morning after my shift) I run 5K.. I'm one of the people monitoring the safety of the well and if things are very busy I skip this session to fully catch up on my sleep.

    Tuesday/wed12 hours off. Run 5k or 1 hour or cross train for approx 1hour

    Tursday 16 hours off. I do the same as tuesday/wed thursday morning. If I wake up very early thursday night I might go to the gym and do something very light.

    Week 2 is day shift and there are no extra meeting.

    Friday/saturday: Changing from nights to days. no exercise

    Sunday/monday/tuesday/wednesday:Run 5k or 1 hour or cross train for approx 1hour. Max 3 runs. Usually 2 runs and 2 crosstrain.

    Thusday: Sometimes run 30 min before I start work. work 16 hour shift.

  • Plenty of us that work shifts and you just have to do what you can

    I can understand not being able to run after 12/14/16 hours at work and you cant change that, look to what you can do and not to what you cant do

    If you use the iffy search function here you will find a couple of shift work threads and maybe some more tips

  • Flat FootedFlat Footed ✭✭✭

    Tiredness is a state of mind!

    Do you get the train into work? I do and I get off a few stations early and turn that into a good long as you have good showers at work.

    As Melds said there have been several threads on this before and there is loads of good plans/tips on them.

    good luck

  • Hello Cara image

    I work 121/2 hr shifts for the NHS, so a mixture of nights & days which are unfortunately very irregular too, so I'm all over the place.  One of the most important things I think is to get the proper sleep, particularly after the nights.  If I've slept well then I don't find the shorter runs too much trouble before or after a shift, but I try and save the longer runs for the completely free days. I think it makes sense to try and plan your runs ahead so you're fully prepared and rested as much as possible.

    Good Luck

  • Cara HCara H ✭✭✭
    Cheers all. No, I don't get a bus or train to work, I drive. I've just got up after a night shift (very broken sleep as usual) and was going to have a run, but no time before heading back in again (long-ish commute doesn't help - we have an offer on a house nearer work but are stuck in a chain so heaven knows when we'll move). I'll try to make more of an effort tomorrow - today meant sleeping after 23hrs of being awake so it's hardly surprising I'm not in the mood!
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