Training on “work days” with physical job

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  • #46371

    This was spurred by the excellent podcast with Luke Nelson. I am a competitive cyclist and ski mountaineer. I also work in a procedural environment- RN circulator in interventional cardiology. While not physically demanding in the traditional uphill athlete sense (or compared to a framer, roofer, etc…), my job involves multiple hours on my feet wearing 50 lbs of lead and standing in generally the same position. Like Luke alluded to, I’m often sore-er at the end of a big workday than after a mega ride, ski, or run.

    I work 3 12hr shifts/wk and take call, so a busy workday can leave me pretty beat and seriously lacking in time & motivation. Coupled with family life and other responsibilities, I’ve traditionally viewed my work days as “rest days”. I also feel like this sells me short, as being on my feet all day in heavy lead is not an adequate “rest day”, nor is it training for anything.

    Any tips on balancing the training load on your workdays, from Luke or anyone else in my position? Thanks for the great content, I really enjoyed that podcast.

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #46386


    Whew! That sounds brutal. I completely understand you dilemma. Hopefully Luke will chime in later. I’ve worked with a lot of Special Operators how spend all day in 40lbs of body armor and a lot of other gear. They are worked at the end of the day just like you. You’re in good company but that does not help you in your plight.

    What I’ve done, not with Luke, but with other athletes who work demanding jobs is to count these days days a training. Nothing will kill your legs more than standing around on concrete. These days may not improve your performance in your sports but they still contribute to your fatigue. You need to respect that.

    Perhaps you can develop a better recovery protocol after these work days. While the Normatech boots are effect for Luke and several other athletes I’ve worked with they are bulky, expensive and hard to travel with. My preferred high end recovery tool is a Compex e-stim. You’ll see Kilian using one in Training for the Uphill Athete on page 110. I have the newer version which is wireless and easy to wear under clothes. Many of the athletes I have worked with have found this a very effect tool for putting some life back into hammered legs.

    Swimming is my favorite recovery method for restoring legs but can be logistically tough especially now.


    Luke Nelson on #46395

    I can totally relate to this situation. I work as a PA and twice a week I first assist in spine cases. Typically these days are 12-14 hours, similar to your shifts. They can be exhausting. Scott mentioned that they certainly don’t make you fitter, but can absolutely add to your fatigue. There are a handful of things that I do to help reduce the impact of these days. Here are a couple that I have found to be pretty effective for in the OR: compression socks and/or compression tights on really long days, if your hospital allows invest in your own lightweight lead (the one I wear is 11 pounds and cost around $400), if possible in between cases or on breaks I spend 5-10 minutes laying on the floor with my feet on the wall above me, get off your feet whenever possible, even if it is for a minute or two at a time it adds up.

    As far as training on those big work days, I have found it pretty challenging to get in any hard efforts on those days. I do find that I can get in some easy running or cycling in the morning before work, most commonly this has been commuting to the hospital from home on foot or via bike. For me that is about 7 miles each way and the easy effort in the morning doesn’t crush me during work. An easy spin on the bike for 30 minutes or so after those long days seems to be pretty beneficial for harder training the next day. Normatech boots have been a huge benefit for me. I use them in between cases when there is enough time, and have found that a 15 minute session after a long day in the OR can freshen the legs up enough to feel decent enough to get in a good workout.

    The hardest part of the situation we are in is finding the right balance of work and training. Scott has done a wonderful job of teaching me that it is ok to skip a workout if you are crushed after work. You know it is going to be 3 days a week, plan your hard sessions around those days, and figure out what you can or can’t do on work days without impacting the quality sessions on non-work days. Also, make sure you prioritize time with your family!

    nickstayner on #46403

    Thank you guys for the detailed responses, as well as the podcast. It really answered some questions!

    Marcel on #46525

    @Scott: which model of Compex e-stim do you use? even within the wireless model-rage there are huge price differences while the main difference seems to be the training-modes available on each device. Therefore the exact model would be interesting and also your favorite (recovery-) training programs you are using. in addition, i would be interested to learn if you use it for recovery only or if you consider the “muscle building” programs also worth using.



    MikkoV on #46568

    I have the same problem. Working in mining with 12h sifts and 7on 7off roster. For few yeara I tryed to just do it and never mind the job. Sometimes I’d sleep for 3-4h between sifts so I could get my long run in.

    I just ended up burning my self out. Never going to that again.

    Now I do try to think of in two weeks intervals and not in one week. During my weeks of work I keep my training short and easy so that I won’t dig my self in to a too deep of a hole and can train hard during my off weeks.

    What I’ve noticed is that helps is compresson socks and tights. And trying to sift my position from standin to leaning to sitting and changing the weight on my feet from one to another.
    In the evening 10-15 minutes of stretching or yoga and meditation have been helping also to get better quolity sleep.

    Anonymous on #47116


    I have 3 of these Compex E-stims. 2 are antiques and have the wires. The third one is a Wireless model. Do not know the model number. I use only the recovery modes and not the training modes. I am dubious of the claims for muscle building. While I am sure that taking the brain out of the picture and making maximal muscle contractions can build strength how would your brain learn to contract those same fibers with similar force if it is not used in the development of that strength.

    I hope this helps.


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