I grew up as the kid who never missed morning swim practice. I looked forward to it, I got excited about it. I wanted to hear my alarm go off at 3:43am in order to get up and jump in the freezing cold water and swim 3-4 miles before any of my other friends even woke up for school. Well, most days at least.
I was also the kid who, when she did miss a practice, lost about 80% of my conditioning and spent almost a week getting back up to where I had been before. Which I hated. A lot. And it often felt like I had let everyone down just by sleeping in and getting up at 6am, like any other regular high school student.
Now that I'm old and wise (kind of) I know that missing a workout isn't the end of the world, but I still struggle with my own self inflicted guilt sometimes. Fortunately the swimming world I live in now is much more forgiving than it was in high school, and my body is much more acclimated to resting and taking care of itself too. I know that sleeping in one day when I'm supposed to go for a long swim won't hurt me or set me back. No one will call my cell phone at 4:30am wondering where I am (yes, my coach used to do that, and no, he isn't the only one) and I won't lose my spot in the lane I normally swim in.
Even missing a workout because I have too many things planned for the holidays or I decided to go to an impromptu dinner with my husband won't hurt me. In fact it's usually more beneficial than not.
Taking care of myself and getting enough rest is HUGE when it comes to performance. I wish I had realized this when I was competing, but such is life. I just wanted to let you guys know that it's okay to sleep in sometimes. It's okay to go have that dinner with friends and grab a drink (or three) and relax even when it's not in your schedule to do so.
But the one thing you shouldn't do is try to makeup the workouts you missed. That's when you get into overtraining and can really hurt yourself. So give yourself a break, don't beat yourself up too much, and sleep in a little if you want. Just don't do it everyday, because then you might be in trouble. And I definitely don't want your coach calling me at 4:30am asking me where you are...