Probably not entirely comparable with your situation but I’ve worked irregular office based shifts for nearly a decade now with “ideal” runs of DDNS–DDNS, or a typical week of two days of 7 am to 7.30 pm, then a night of 7 pm to 7.30 am with no sleep that night, a sleep day followed by two off before repeating. However, given the vagaries of leave/special requests, its rarely that predictable and to be honest makes planning training a nightmare!
I find my difficulties with shift work are eating sufficient to fuel my workouts but not bingeing while in work, but mainly its the irregular sleep patterns. I struggle to work multiple night shifts as I often fail to sleep more than two/three hours after a night, as my body seems to reject being asleep in daylight hours (even in a dark room!). It’s also become a self fulfilling fear now when I have to do it as the worry is enough to keep me awake, a hard cycle to break.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried many approaches and looked for an answer to training round shifts and most of best advice about dealing with them revolves setting routines around your shift runs so it sounds like you’ve already got that pencilled in with your training and the other advice above looks pretty sound.
Given the irregularity of my shifts, I struggle to get into a routine, week to week patterns are too different so my training planning is super flexible, notionally aiming to get hardest sessions in on the morning before a night shift and on the first of the free days and then fitting what else I can in. Being office based, my work is not physical but the ability to do any workout post work is not guaranteed, but I’ll often try and fit something in (even if its often just a Taku which can be mentally refreshing) on the evening of the first day shift. Equally as I only work single nights, I can manage easy/short workouts on a sleep day, although these too are dropped if I’m suffering!
A typical base training week may look like Monday - Taku, Tuesday - Rest, Wednesday - Antellope +2, Thursday - Taku, Friday - Geiger +2, Saturday - Tallac +3 , Sunday - Taku. While for build and speciality, I’ll often use minus variants of workouts to keep the structure but reduce some of the stress and drop/combine shorter endurance work into longer, post hard session rides . It’s an approach that has seen me sit happily around 4 watts/kg for much of the last decade, although the balance with recovery is tricky and I have to be very aware of doing too much.
I’ve raced around shifts too, and the only real no-no I’ve found is the racing on an evening post night, that leaves me drained for days!
I know that after a few days of normal sleep patterns my outlook on life and training ability transforms so the moment I can drop shift work, I will…