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I received a question via Twitter from Krister Dunn about advice for low-sleep training for a person working 9-5 plus some graveyard shift work.


If your shift cycle is predictable, try to plan your training in cycle with your shifts. For example, a common rotation is to work this repeating three-week cycle:

Week 1:   7:00am to 3:00 pm

Week 2:   3:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Week 3:   11:00 pm to 7:00 am (graveyard)


Usually the day and evening shifts aren’t too bad for getting training accomplished. Schedule your heavy intensity or volume weeks for these two weeks. On the week you are working graveyard, make that your rest week. Cut volume and intensity back so your athletic training doesn’t take a toll on your body – in addition to the work load.


For the shift work people I’ve dealt with, there isn’t a consensus on the best time to workout when on the graveyard shift. Some people preferred to workout before going to work, while others preferred a morning workout after the shift, a meal and then sleep. A smaller number of people went home after work and slept short (a few hours) got up and did a workout followed by another few-hour sleep.There is personal preference and family situation coordination affecting the patterns as well.


The trick is to arrange workouts and sleep so that you can be alert at work and for your family, while optimizing your health and performance. Easier written than done.


If your shift rotation changes every few days or is a 12-hour shift rotation, it is a little trickier. Though more tricky, there is a pattern to most all rotations I’ve seen. Take a look at the pattern and arrange your workout schedule to fit the work pattern.


This likely means you need to arrange your workouts on a different cycle than seven days. For example, three days “on” and three days “off” of training. You may not be able to get much more than 30 minutes of workout time accomplished on your 12-hour work days and that’s okay. Most of the time a run or strength training is the easiest to pull off during the days short on personal time. Sometimes people can get a short workout in during lunch and that helps.


If the graveyard shift is totally random (i.e. you’re on call), then you may have to skip a workout now and then or rearrange the workouts so you do the key workouts when you are most rested rather than when they are shown on a training plan chart.


Hope this helps. If you have a more specific question, let me know.

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Do you use endurance sport retail therapy?


The last time I wrote about retail therapy, was in a pre-race neurosis blog. The short of it is that one way racers use retail therapy (making multiple purchases online or at local stores) is as a means of calming pre-race nerves. Ah, but there's more!


On the Sunday group ride, one of the riders mentioned that he was having “some retail issues.” After telling me about recent purchases, stuff he doesn't need and the great stuff he already owns, he ended by saying, “Geeze, what is wrong with me?”


I replied, “Oh, you’re perfectly normal – for a cyclist or a triathlete. Do know that I’m not saying you’re an average American - but you are a normal endurance athlete.”


The more we discussed the issue the more he was able to piece it together. He understood the fine place in life for retail therapy. Here is what Joe (his pen name) had to say about some of what drives his need for retail therapy:


  1. (Over)Training in inclement weather – I have trained in really  bad weather, so I DESERVE (KEY WORD/PHRASE) some new stuff to make me (warmer, faster, better looking, cooler, etc.)
  2. That was a tough workout under extreme conditions, therefore, I DESERVE to buy some stuff….
  3. Training Plan = Go as long as you can as hard as you can for as many days as you can until you get sick; rest 3 days (beg your doctor for some antibiotics); repeat (ad nauseam).  Then during the three day recovery-try-to-get-well-so-I-can-do-it-all-over period, Joe Overcyclist has an acute lack of endorphin production, so in order to get the “fix” Joe goes online, goes to the bike shop, goes nuts, and buys stuff.
  4. Fourth overall justification, uniquely tied in with all of the above, is the “I need to buy all of the speed I can afford!” justification.  (Although the speed paid for is not always the speed delivered – it’s the legs not the bike and stuff, dummy!)

Alas, even intelligent, knowledgeable, well trained and coached cyclists often find a need for retail therapy this time of the year – only to realize later that most of the Retail Stuff ends up on a shelf in the bike-cave, having resorted back on the tried and true stuff that he resorted back to last year.  Viva Visa!!


When is the last time you used retail therapy? Was it for a reason not listed? Do share.


Please let us know what you used retail therapy for (what ailment did it cure) and what was your purchase?

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