Shift Work and Running

Hi all,

been forever since I used this forum as I unfortunately fell out of love with running and had been going through a rough patch in my life over the last 6-12 months. Thankfully things are on the up and thus I start a new job on Monday! I will be working 4 on 4 off 12 hour shifts 7am-7pm and then 7pm-7am. 


So I am just starting to get my running back up and currently I am doing 2-3 miles 3 times a week and easing myself back in. I am thinking about how free these shifts will leave me to train. I'm thinking of doing some half marathons next year and from what I've seen in training plans it is easily doable. Some 5/6 mile runs midweek with something a little bit longer at the weekends, the same applies for me just adjusted to when I will actually be at work as I will work weekends too. 

Basically does anyone have any advice, tips or tricks on how they managed their training when working such shift patterns and how they still continued to push themselves (as I eventually plan on moving into triathlon) and how they managed their nutrition and continued to (try) and eat healthy.

Thanks all in advance!


  • I love the 4 on 4 off pattern

    Give youself 2 days off when on a day shift and then you get a full day off before nights on the first day and then an easy session before the 2nd night and then you are in to 4 days off to do whatever you like ... perfect !

  • I almost fell out of love with running - it can happen

  • Svarcy

    sorry friend that went all wrong

  • No problem! 

    Just an idea, would I maybe be better off focusing on 10k races, as when I start getting into tri I will need to be cycling and swimming too and will probably be focusing on sprint distance triathlons.

  • I work shifts ( mixture of days and nights) 13 in a month. I focus on 3 good runs a week and a couple of spin classes. Have managed 45 half/full marathons, I wish you luck shifts can leave you tired and training after or before a 12 hour shift is hard.some weeks I train a lot harder than others but it is doable
  • BirchBirch ✭✭✭

    Svarcy, I worked 12 hour shifts for 23 years and trained for marathons, XC etc etc.
    I did something like this (when mara training) - varied when outside mara training, but tried to stay consistent
    Day 1 (7am - 7pm) run to and from work (5easy + 5easy)  Day2 same as day 1 except (5easy +3 direct hilly route home)
    Day3 (7pm - 7am) med run 12-13 with tempo or suchlike Day4 (go to bed 7am work 7pm-7am, so REST);  Day 5 (to bed 7am up by lunch - groggy - so 6 or 7 easy)
    Day 6 (after good night sleep) some kind of session, maybe mile reps; Day 7 easy run maybe 8 miles; Day 8 long run
    Had family responsibilities also, so trained around them, but approx 70 miles in 8 day cycle.   When shift allowed did club night pack run - 10-12 miles with faster runners, so (for me) nearly race pace .Tried to maintain healthy diet, but main problem on night shift was the lure of the choc machine. Tried taking in extra sarnies, fruit etc, but just ate that and still ate the choc. 
    Find a routine which works for you, and stick with it as far as you can. Certainly found it easier to train within the 8 day cycle, rather than try for the normal week.
    Good luck, anyway especially when fitting 3 disciplines into your training cycle ! 

  • Svarcy, have you joined the Fire Brigade?!

    At present I run every other day and that seems to keep injuries etc at bay and also gives me time for cycling or circuits. Here is what I do:

    1 (first day shift) HILLS

    2 OFF

    3 (first night) TEMPO

    4 OFF

    5 LONG

    6 OFF

    7 EASY

    8 OFF

    Mileage will depend on what you are training for, any questions, ask!

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