I’ve been working night shift more on than off for the last 10 years. I work a rotating shift schedule that’s 6p-6a. We work 2-2-3-2-2-3-2 (amounts to every other weekend off). I rotate back to a day shift when I’m off and typically avg 6 hours of sleep a night. I’m also a father/husband to 4 kids (one of which is special needs/medically dependent).
Last year I was a “day shifter” and started my first go at structured training. The first part of last year I tried working out first thing. I used the mid volume plans and would workout from 0300-0400. Shower and ready. Commute 30 minutes, dressed for shift by 0545 hour. Mid year I went to working all day and working out right before bed. I noticed that my workouts were more flat after the change, and my sleep quality was poorer. I further did not fuel appropriately and wasn’t recovering enough for the workload. I dropped the Sunday rides and reduced the TSS to just 4 workouts a week.
The crew has touched on this subject numerous times over the last year but here are my takeaways.
Listen to your body. It’s fun to ride. It’s super fun to be fast. Not so much if the rest of your life feels like crap. Working shift work brings about a load of mental fatigue that effects the rest of your life experience. Understand when you need to dial it back and be ok with a lower volume of TSS during the week.
Fuel your body. I read “Nutrient Timing” and was shocked that I was completely missing the mark in this respect. Sure I ate well enough, but I didn’t plan when I should be fueling my workouts. I also read “Endurance Diet” that was also a great resource on what to eat.
If you fail to plan, plan to fail. USE THE CALENDAR!!! Be sensible with your time and when to work in your workouts. Obviously it’s better to workout earlier in your day, but find a consistent time in your schedule and block that out for training. Then be sensible with which training volume plan you choose. Start low but aim high. Build your base and then add the volume as you are able to consistently complete the workouts.
Have a training setup at work where you’re able to take your training with you. I invested in a setup so I’m able to workout both at home, on duty, or commuting. Find what will work for you and your schedule and then stick with the plan! I have a riding buddy who sometimes meets me after work (0500 hours) and we will do training rides together. We are both TR users but on different trajectories. We also have different goals and keep that in mind when it’s time to do the work.
Remember why you ride. Sure it’s to be fit, get faster, N+1…But at its core, the sport is downright fun. Don’t lose sight of that.
P. S. - Aim to consume approximately 1 gallon of water a day. It’s amazing how Hydration can play a major positive role in recovery, rest, and the adverse effects of working night shift. DRINK MORE WATER…