Shift Work Workouts

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Does anyone else this is it majorly creepy that I found an “A” scratched into the back of my leg this morning?  Seriously – no idea how that got there.  I assume I scratched myself in my sleep but… in the shape of an A? Creeeeeeepy.


A for awesomesauce?


Woke up with a little bit of a headache from too much sugar + alcohol last night.  I knew the only thing that would make me feel right was a very yummy Green Monster smoothie.  If you have not tried a Green Monster yet, please do!  They are NOT yucky at all – I know they look it, though!


In the blender:


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • Chia seeds
  • Protein powder


I think I’ll skip dessert for the next few days.  I am feeling really sugared out from yesterday (between my party, my dad coming over for lunch, and GOTR, I ate a half-dozen cookies and two yummy cupcakes yesterday).  Sugar and me really don’t get along that well (bloating, headaches) when I eat too much. Oh, but it tastes so good!




I’ve been cooking tofu in a new way (I usually use the Perfect Baked Tofu method).  This technique is even easier than Perfect Baked Tofu, if you can believe it!  I just thinly slice the extra firm tofu (no draining required), place on greased cookie sheet, drizzle with soy sauce, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or so.  So easy!


With spinach and some mole salad in a wrap.


And a side of steamed Brussel sprouts.


Working Out When You’re Working in Shifts


I received this question from a reader and thought it would be an excellent one to open up to comments!


Andrea wrote, “I have a question about training for a race. I have always wanted to train for a race, and I am thinking about training for a sprint triathlon, or a 10K run. However, when I researched training schedules and when I read about other people’s training schedules on their blogs, I find that they would never be compatible with my lifestyle.


You see, I am a nurse, so I work 2 days on from 7:30 am to 7:30 p.m., and then 2 nights on from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., and then I have 5 days off until I start the 4 day work cycle again. Working out/training on days where I work is not an option for me, so basically I have five day blocks that are available for me to do my working out/training, and then 4 day blocks where I can’t work out/train at all. 


I know this is quite wordy, so to sum up my question: I am looking for tips or suggestions about how to train for a race while dealing with a 4 day on, 5 day off shift work schedule.”


Although I don’t do shift work, my advice to Andrea was this: “I would find a plan that allows you to do 4 days of training in a “week” and do your workouts during your 5 day off block (so workout 2 days, take a day off, work out 2 more days). I think this would be fine even if you take off 4 days off in between sessions because it’s not like you’re sitting on your butt – I’m sure you are running around all day!”


Do you work in shifts and train for races?  How do you make it work?



  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) April 27, 2011, 1:23 pm

    I would suggest that after Andrea’s shift, she should do a run! I know she’s probably tired but it’ll make her feel better & reach her goals!

  • Jenne April 27, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I am somewhat in the same boat as Andrea. I am a nurse and work 7-7, except my rotation rarely gives me 5 days off in a row, I’m lucky to get 3 off. Training for my 10K this weekend was somewhat easy since I just scheduled my longer runs on my days off and then just did short 3 mile runs on the days I was working. I can’t run 2 days in a row b/c my IT band bothers me too much, so I have to train on the days I work, I feel so tired that I don’t think I can do anything, but then I surprise myself! I ometimes do 90min yoga classes after a 12 hour day shift and feel great!! If you really want something bad enough, you will do what ever it take to get it done. Because you know your schedule and it doesn’t change, get a calander and adapt other training plans to fit into your life. I write the modified plan on the calander and hang it in my kitchen as a constant reminder of what workout I have to do. When I trained for my sprint tri I always coupled my workouts…never just biking, running or swimming, always doing 2 of the 3 every time I worked out.
    Sorry that was long…Good Luck!!!

  • Maria @ Oh Healthy Day April 27, 2011, 1:27 pm

    I immediately just thought of the Scarlet Letter! Haha.

    • Holly @ The Runny Egg April 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

      I did too!

    • Megan April 27, 2011, 1:42 pm

      hahahaha! So did I!

    • Laura April 27, 2011, 1:47 pm

      hahaha omg that was the first thing i thought of!

      • valuliana April 27, 2011, 2:04 pm

        Me too! 😉

    • Amy April 27, 2011, 7:12 pm

      Me too! Caitlin, you’re turning into Arthur Dimmesdale!

    • Christine April 27, 2011, 7:14 pm

      Yup! You ladies beat me to it!

  • E April 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

    So glad somebody asked this question! I work a little more ‘normal’ schedule than Andrea because I don’t switch up between nights & days. However, I do work 4-5 days per week, always third shift, switches around from 8 hour shifts to 9 hour shifts to 10 hour shifts, and I have an hour commute each way. So, I find it hard sometime to work on living in a more healthy way (trouble deciding on an eating schedule/sleeping schedule/when to exercise) – particularly do not do well getting exercise in on long work days. I’d love to hear more comments from other people who might be shift workers!

  • Freya April 27, 2011, 1:33 pm

    It’s a demon Caitlin, you’re possessed 😛
    I don’t work in shifts..I’d be curious to see what everyone else says though.

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg April 27, 2011, 1:34 pm

    Caitlin I have never scratched myself that badly! You much have longer fingernails than me or you scratch DEEP.

    Working out/shift work – no clue, but I like your suggestion. Also, maybe just plan your workout schedule on Sundays — depending on what days you have off, then you can plan your workouts?

  • jen @ taste life April 27, 2011, 1:34 pm

    The A is slightly creepy, yes.

    I don’t work in shifts, but I think your suggestion sounds pretty good.

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) April 27, 2011, 1:36 pm

    That would pose a very big challenge! However, I think I would utilize just one of the days where I work to squeeze in my shortest workout of the week, say a 30 minute run. That way, yeah it’d suck to have to work out after (or before!) working 12 hours, but it’s doable if you only do it on one of the days. Then I’d do the rest of my workouts on my days off.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 27, 2011, 1:43 pm

    That must be an A for awesome!! I’m not a shift worker but I think Andrea’s suggestion makes sense. Like she said, it’s not like the 4 days on are inactive because you’re working and that is physically tiring too!

  • valuliana April 27, 2011, 2:07 pm

    I used to train 3 days/week with a rest day in between each training day. The way I would do this would be to train on my 1st night shift and then 2 more times on my days off so I could still enjoy some of my days off and get some energy for my night shifts. I say “used to” as I am now on maternity leave and my workouts now consist of yoga, pilates and pushing the stroller on challenging uphill routes! 😉

  • Cait @ Beyond Bananas April 27, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Green monsters are my saviors when I am not feeling well in the morning!

  • Cat April 27, 2011, 2:08 pm

    I know a client of ours that is a nurse that does that overnights and attends our class at 8:30am 4 days a week. And she’s in her 50s and she’s done this for 4 years! So yes, she comes to work out after her night shift. Pretty wild right?

    In my opinion, doing training on all or 3 of her days off is obviously the solution. Though I have to wonder, if she is off at 7:30pm and doesn’t work until 7:30pm the next day on some of her work days, it does seem like she could fit in a quick workout. Like a 3 mile run, right? It’s only a half hour or so out of 24 hours off. I’m sure it’s very tiring, but it might be energizing for the work week? Just a thought, again, not sure if I read that schedule correctly!

  • Katie G. April 27, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Okay, that A is creepy….
    I have yet to try a green monster but it’s on my to-do list soon!

  • SaraRM April 27, 2011, 2:15 pm

    Ya that A is definitely creepy!

  • Kate April 27, 2011, 2:21 pm

    I’m definitely creeped out by that scratch too! And I agree it looks really deep for an errant set of fingernails to have done. Is it possible there’s something in your bed that could have left that scratch? It almost looks like two Vs. Is that your injured leg, by any chance? Maybe someone broke in to do a crazy healing ritual on you while you were asleep!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 27, 2011, 2:22 pm

    Scarlet Letter A! haha 😉

    I’d say to make sure she switched up the routine with running–meaning trying speedwork one day, then swimming the next, then a longer run the next, and then maybe a weights class the next–so her body gets all kinds of different work in-this way it won’t just “relax” during her work days, she’ll keep her body guessing. It all totally depends on what her goals are, though.

    I love tofu!!!

  • Lili April 27, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Maybe the dogs gave you that A scratch? My dogs end up scratching me when they are playing and are excited!! You know how it goes 😉

  • Emily April 27, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I don’t work in shifts, so unfortunately I have no good advice. But I will say to Andrea, that nurses are AWESOME!! Thank you for all you do!

  • Nancy April 27, 2011, 2:30 pm

    I’m a nurse, work nights on weeekends and 2 dayshift/week. So yes, it’s a crazy schedule. I also have a 5yr old daughter! I’m 10 days away from my 3rd half marathon. I found I had to schedule it in, stop the excuses and actually get up a little bit earlier each day to fit it in. I also plan my long runs after my night shift stretch, so I get off work in the morning, sleep 4hours and then run my long run while daughter is in daycare, pick her up eat dinner and then crash for the night!
    It’s worked for me, probably not for everyone though. Just experiment and if it’s something you want, you’ll figure out away to make it work!
    Power to the Nurses!!!!!

    • Jenne April 27, 2011, 2:51 pm

      I love that Nancy!! It’s so true the biggest obstacle to working out is our own excuses!! My half marathon is on June 19th…It will be my first and I am super pumped!! And for the record, it’s the day after I get off three 12 hour days shifts. Anything works if you work it!!

    • RebekahK April 28, 2011, 11:29 am

      I often dread a workout after a 12-15 hour night shift (I’m also a nurse) but I ALWAYS feel better after I go! I agree with myself to do “just ten minutes” but once I get going I make it through a full 30-45. I don’t know how parents do it though. You are a super woman!

  • Jen April 27, 2011, 2:33 pm

    Whoa. That “A” is creepy!!!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss April 27, 2011, 3:00 pm

    I get creeped out when I wake up with odd marks or scratches, too…but the A would definitely scare me a little. Not to say it means anything, but I’m so superstitious!

  • Kristin April 27, 2011, 3:01 pm

    A for awesome…orrrr A like in The Scarlet Letter? 😉

  • Khushboo April 27, 2011, 3:03 pm

    Wow reading this has been a huge eye-opener for me! Major props to shift workers! I would probably do my long run on my last off day, and then do a 3-liked on either on the 2nd or 3rd working day- half an hour is doable! Fit your training schedule around your life, not vice versa!

    • Therese April 28, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Thanks for saying that! Every job schedule has it’s pros and cons, and your advice is very applicable for shift workers and 8-5 workers alike :o) I definitely do try to fit in my hardest workout before a 2-3 day work stretch because then I think of it as recovery time anyway.

  • Kris @ tryingtotri April 27, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Juggling training and shift work is a challenge – add a few kids in and good luck! I work four 10 hour shifts a week, rotating, both days and nights. I’m training for a full marathon in June, and another in September, and two triathlons too.

    I have to get a workout in most days before work – up at 5:15 to swim or run when I work days; easier when I work the 5 pm – 3:30 shift as I will bike or run in the afternoon after getting up.

    I schedule my long runs for my days off, which means they are never on a consistent day, but as long as I make sure the day before is an easy day it works for me. It can be done!

    And the scratch is a little creepy, but I agree with a prior poster – maybe the dogs did it?

  • elliebelle April 27, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I don’t work in shifts – but I do have a weird running schedule. I teach Zumba so many times during the week, that adding in running is too much for my body so basically I am running only one day a week to train for my half marathon. It seems crazy – but so far I’ve really been successful with keeping up my endurance. I wonder if maybe Andrea could add in some cross training during the week(stuff she could do inside) to at least keep up her cardio?

  • betty@runbetty April 27, 2011, 3:42 pm

    I too get a “sugar hangover” when I have too much of it (ahem…EASTER!)

    So, this week, I’ve cut out added sugar completely, and have found that ALL my body wants is veggies and fruit! Love it.

  • Jeni @ stepping out April 27, 2011, 3:45 pm

    That A is really weird! Maybe you slept on something with that shape?

  • April @ Grits and Granola Bars April 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Weird scratch, Caitlin!

    Those brussel sprouts look delicious. I wish I had some right now!

  • Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous April 27, 2011, 4:05 pm


    Not gonna lie, I immediately thought of this:

  • Michelle April 27, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Your “A” scratch is awesome! I march drum and bugle corps and your scratch looks just like our logo…see?!

  • Miranda @ working mom works out April 27, 2011, 5:01 pm

    The A is a little weird.

    And I always feel that way after eating too much sugar. Detox

  • Little Miss Runshine April 27, 2011, 5:08 pm

    That’s super weird! Maybe you are possessed!!!! jk jk 🙂

  • Aimee April 27, 2011, 5:14 pm

    I am also a nurse. I work the night shift 11pm-7am. I am scheduled to work 4 nights a week but often end up working 5. I do have a set schedule which includes every other weekend on. The set schedule definitely helps with planning. I work nights so I can be home with my son who is now 4. I trained for a half marathon last year and I am training for another right now. I will also add marathon training to the mix a little later this summer. I am registered for my first full marathon, the Disney marathon in January.

    I started by writing down a training schedule based on one of Hal Higdon’s plans and I followed it. I did my long runs on Saturdays usually whether I worked the night before or not. However, Friday was a rest or easy run day and if I was able to squeeze in the long run during the day on a Friday then I did because it left my weekends a little more flexible. I posted my training schedule for the week on the refrigerator where my husband could see it. I made arrangements for childcare when necessary so that I could get my workouts done. Aside from the long runs I aimed for 30-60 minutes of activity a day which included shorter training runs.

    I finally made myself a priority which was a totally new concept for me. I was so used to taking care of everyone else that I would sacrifice time for myself. It was difficult at first and I felt badly when my son would cry and say “don’t go for a run Mommy.” I kept explaining that it keeps me healthy and makes me feel good. Now it is just part of our lives. I work races into mini weekend getaways. My husband did two 5Ks last year. My son did a St. Patrick’s Day fun run for kids.

    Honestly I’ve learned that you just have to find what works best for you and stick with it. If it gets unbearable change it up. I can’t imagine flipping shifts like you do. Do you mind it? Oddly enough I actually love working nights. Good luck!! Let us know how it goes.

    • Nancy April 27, 2011, 5:24 pm

      completely agree – you have to make yourself the priority, hard at first, but you are able to give so much more when your cup is full.

    • Brianna April 27, 2011, 6:29 pm

      YES! I totally agree with this post!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape April 27, 2011, 5:32 pm

    That A thing is so weird!!!

  • Holley @ Lunges and Lashes April 27, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I’m new to your blog and I love it! Happy bday! I also love brussel sprouts. I never ate them when I was little, and tried them as an adult to find out they are fabulous!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) April 27, 2011, 6:09 pm

    whoa yes that scratch sure is weird!!

  • Brianna April 27, 2011, 6:27 pm

    I work 11 hour night shifts….7 days in a row…with 7 days off in between. I’m training for a marathon. My running schedule is the same no matter if I’m working or not. Yeah, I’m tired but I push through.

    For Andrea, I would suggest fitting in a run after her shift. You’ll be tired but doing a few quick miles doesn’t take much time…and you’ll sleep better!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin April 27, 2011, 6:30 pm

    That scratch is so weird! The first thing I thought is that maybe you got up to some crazy drunken shenanigans last night. 😉

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run April 27, 2011, 6:49 pm

    I’m a night shift nurse, and I literally just posted about fitting in workouts with my schedule! It’s hard sometimes, and I’m tired most of the time, but I make it work.

  • Jacalyn April 27, 2011, 7:43 pm

    I have to be in the operating room by 7am, so I wake up at 4am to get my morning run in. It just becomes a part of my life, like breathing. I don’t think twice about it.

  • Lauren April 27, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Haha, I’ve woken up from a “fun” night with random marks on my body. LoL, at least it wasn’t a tattoo!

  • Michelle (The Runner's Plate) April 27, 2011, 7:56 pm

    I agree that everyone needs to try and Green Monster!

    I am going to try preparing my tofu that way next time!

  • Katherine April 27, 2011, 8:06 pm

    That looks like the A for Anarchy!!! Just google image “anarchy” and you’ll see.

  • Jacalyn April 27, 2011, 8:19 pm

    Sorry, I just keep looking at your scratch and think, “The Scarlet Letter”.

  • Molly @ RDexposed April 27, 2011, 8:26 pm

    That A is creepy! Those Brussels sprouts look delicous though!

  • Jess April 27, 2011, 8:36 pm

    I scratch myself in my sleep all the time! I don’t think I’ve ever made a letter though…

    Also, I’m just catching up on posts so HAPPY BELATED BDAY!

  • Steph April 27, 2011, 8:37 pm

    I’m also a nurse who did that same shift work and I would always use the time between days and nights to work out and then 3 or 4 of my 5 days off.

  • amy the aussie April 28, 2011, 5:19 am

    One of my good friends is a nurse and she often works out on the day she works.. but you have to do what works for your body!
    I think planning to exercise on your days off seems to be a good idea for you- not necessarily the best in terms of keeping up your aerobic fitness, I am pretty sure you start losing the benefits after 2-3 days. But you wouldn’t lose all the benefits, it’s just not ideal.

  • Colleen April 28, 2011, 9:04 am

    Love this question! I am also a nurse. I work a swing shift (1pm-1am) and my schedule is literally random from week to week. Training for a half marathon was hard because I could never have an official “long run day” — I never have off every Sunday, or every Tuesday, etc. I just try to fit in my long runs on my days off. For a while I thought I couldn’t work out on work days (who wants to stand for 12 hours at work and then go for a run?), but eventually I stopped making excuses and now I get up early and run on work days, as well.

  • Abby April 28, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I love this post. Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t get along with sugar. I am not feeling well today either. Bloat city! 😐

  • Therese April 28, 2011, 7:51 pm

    I’m a nurse as well, and it’s been a challenge to train for races. I like and the Runner’s World new Smart Coach programs because they give training programs that only require 2-3 days of running. Honestly, working 12-hour shifts IS cross-training. Especially if you have to park 1/2 a mile away and walk in like I do.

    I will say that if I have to, I’m more likely to get up early (3-4pm) on a night shift day to do a short workout than I am to wake up at 4am before day shift. But with 4 on, 5 off, you should be able to work in even just a weights workout in the living room or a workout DVD one of those days and then run 3 (non-consecutive) of the 5 days you’re off.

    It’s great to know I’m not alone! I’ve been a nurse 4 years and really got back into running 1.5 years ago. It’s been a challenge and hard to juggle at first, but so worth it.

    And I try not to compare myself to those lucky people with nights, weekends, and holidays off!

  • Juani May 4, 2011, 5:54 am

    I laughed so hard reading that line “A for Awesomesauce?” tears started running down my face (always happens when I find something REALLY funny).

    • Caitlin May 4, 2011, 8:57 am

      hahah glad i could make you laugh!

  • Ambre May 4, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I just wanted to say that I tried your tofu recipe last night – with the soy sauce – and it turned out SOOOO yummy!!!!

    Do you have any healthy recipes for tempeh? Do you think you could do the same thing?

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