If your long run on your first day off wipes you out for a few days, I'd suggest doing your long run on the last of your days off and shorter ones on days 2 and 4 of your 6 off.
Could you also do a 30min run before your first night shift?
If you're training to HR, it's not unusual that initially you'll find you have to go much slower to stay within the correct zone. Over time, as long as you're running regularly, you should find that you can go faster at the same HR.
If your training has been irregular then it's not surprising that your times have dropped. Give it time to build your fitness back up again slowly and the speed should come back again.
Are you still tired from you night shifts when you do your long run?Sleep is very important and if you have not slept properly this will wipe you out without any running regardless. (I know I always want to go home and sleep after a night).
Don't do your long run on your first day off, do a short easy run, say 5k with some strides and dynamic stretching thrown in. Try and do this run early if you can, it will help to make you feel fresher. Outside and off road, somewhere with trees. (higher oxygen levels).
Add a fartlek run to your training, this is just a run with a mixture of paces. Again outside and off road if you can. The different paces will use different muscles. (fast twitch and slow twitch). Again make this run about 5k. Really I'm just saying play about with these 2 runs. You don't have to run a route or a circuit or pound the streets, you can run back and forth and zig zag.
With 6 days off you should be able to get in at least 3 runs so your other run should be your LSR done at the right hr you should be building on endurance and fitness.
If you can fit in another run on your work days or some xtraining then do this. If like me you can not go out and are stuck indoors then can you get some core or dynamic stretching done? I have a simple exercise routine that I do. I can break it up into 3 x 10 min sessions. This is a good way to exercise and the results are the same as doing 30mins in one go. It's really just a case of moving and getting the hr up and warming up the muscles.
Irregular training should not necessarily mean a drop in fitness. My training is irregular due to irregular shifts and I'm building on fitness all the time.What you need to ensure is adequate rest. Every 3rd or 4th week should be an easy week and make sure you get some proper sleep.
Thanks for your replies.
Trogs - I do try and do a 8-10k run before my first night, but don't always feel like it!! I have been persevering with HR training but have not seen any significant improvement, I guess I'll keep at it and hope my times improve!
T.mouse - I get about 5-6 hours sleep after my second night shift, and I tend to just get up and go for a run, and always try to go offroad through woods/country park. I generally don't feel too bad on this run, its the days afterwards when I just can't drag myself out, should I aim to run every other day on my 6 days off? I must add that I also play football once a week if I'm not working, and cycling to work on some days. I feel that maybe I need to structure it better on my days off and commit to it.
Thanks for the advice.
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