Sometimes your training week goes awesome... You're planning ahead and working hard and surprising yourself by nailing some hard sessions that you weren't even sure you could do... Those are great weeks! So much fun! I've actually had a lot of those weeks recently...
But not all weeks go like that. Sometimes things just go bad. I've found this is typically related to too much excess stress... so you're trying to fit your normal training on top of excess stress at work or at home and that just doesn't work. When outside stress is low, athletes can handle more training stress. (Hence, if you follow social media at all you see that um, everyone?? is at a training camp right now... clearly the best way to focus on training without any excess stress from home/work!) When outside stress is high (wife is sick, kids are sick, boss comes into town, have to travel for work meeting, etc) then it's just a fact that something's gotta give. These weeks, if you try to fit it ALL in, in an obsessive compulsive way (um, guilty!), things just won't click. Sometimes you end up sick. Sometimes you end up injured. Sometimes you just end up tired.
So what to do?? This depends, I think, partly on your philosophy but mostly where you're at in your season (ie how soon are your races coming up??) If it's a while before your big race(s), and by a lot I mean 12+ weeks, then DON'T STRESS IT. Let the training go. Get your life in order. Set yourself up so that when it matters, you're in a position to put the good training in. If, on the other hand, you're close to a big race, then sometimes it's about sucking it up and figuring it out (depending on your goals of course). I will say this... the folks who are on the podium at big races have set up their lives in such a way as to minimize outside stress and therefore maximize quality training/recovery time.
I had a challenging week here myself. I was bummed because I just couldn't do it all. I wanted to, and the fact that I couldn't led me into a bit of what felt like depression for a few days. Not like full blown depression but just bummed b/c I'd been hitting everything perfectly and then to not be able to do it for a few days initially felt like failure. So I was sad. BLAH! In these scenarios it is good to remind ourselves that the fitness you build from consistent training doesn't disappear when you miss a couple of training sessions. Phew! And if you are able to get in the right mindset about your situation (ie, let it go!) then eventually- and maybe sooner rather than later if you handle the stress right- you'll be back doing what you love and killing it again! :)
It all came back together for me today. I showed up at the pool in my pink sparkle suit and Mark said, "Oh crap... She's wearing that suit!" because he knew that meant it was going to be an extraordinarily challenging workout. Yep! Couple days away from big training just left my hungry to HIT IT today and boy that's what we did! I am not kidding we didn't even warm up... just got in and swam 1000 straight (that was supposed to be warm up but somehow it turned into a race, like from the first stroke, I blame my pink sparkle suit, and the fact that it was Steve's birthday and he had a wild hair up his ass or something)... It was one of the fastest 1000's I have ever swam without paddles. Lol. Nice way to start the session. Then we did a whole bunch of 100's on a roomy interval, which is actually WAY harder than the threshold 100's we do on tight intervals b/c roomy interval means GO MAX EFFORT. We didn't speak a lot during that set. But the racing (and panting) continued! I was stoked b/c I was hitting the fastest 100's I've ever swam in that pool... and narrowing the gap to Nalani ever so slightly... Yes! ;) Finished it up with another 1000, this time tying our feet together just for the extra challenge (this is what happens when I am not as tired as I should be from a big training week- I go crazy and try to kill us in a single session lol)... It was all good though. The extra 'rest' I had this week was apparently good! (My swim partners might disagree...)
I guess the point here is just that we all endure ups and downs in life/home/work/training... Prioritize what's important, take care of the people in your life, and get back to training when your life is sorted. You'll be hungrier than ever and ready to crush it in a very rewarding way. :)