Sleepless in Altitude – Week #4.4

Buddy…I hope you’re healthy!

Because I finally decided to go back home, at sea-level. After 3 weeks up-there, 19 nights of insomnia, one tooth ache and most recently a cold that nailed me into bed for 3 days, I thought going “down” would be wiser.

But in order to stay optimistic and keep fun memories, here is the recap’ of that 2nd week of training in altitude. Still some good stuff! 🙂

4.4 – Altitude 11h17 – 29k 8h58 – 181k 1h23 – 17k 21h38 – 227k
4.3 – Altitude 5h59 – 14.8k 14h53 – 278k 3h10 – 23.1k 24h02 – 316k
4.2 2h59 – 7.3k 20h01 – 442k 3h15 – 26.3k 26h15 – 476k
4.1 6h08 – 15k 17h27 – 380k 2h33 – 29k 26h04 – 434k

Monday 18th – Day 11

It’s the first day of the European Aquatics. So to celebrate this event, my coach offers me to swim 284 laps. Yes, that’s 7.1k.

Tuesday 19th – Day 12

Ever since I got here, I didn’t spend one single good night. Only once did I fall asleep at 11pm and woke up at 8am.

Every other nights, I’m having crazy insomnia! I go to bed at 10pm, completely dead because of training but only to wake up at 11pm, breathing hard, as if I had ran 100m in 12’’. And there, impossible to fall back asleep before 4 or 5am, despite my red eyes.

Apparently, it’s something quite usual when you go in altitude, even at only 1300m high. It’s a defense mechanism from your body who, because of the lack of oxygen, doesn’t want to let you sleep and risk any sleep apnea or a pulmonary oedema.

Only one remedy: let your body get used to the altitude. Question: For how long?

Wednesday 20th – Day 13

I recently read « My autobiography » from the rugby player, Jonny Wilkinson and « Open » from the tennis player, Andre Agassi.

The common trait between those two athletes is that they are two tortured souls. Before each game, Wilkinson used to have crazy anxiety attacks. Agassi, on his side, says about 50 times in his book that he « hates » tennis.

Therefore if being a tortured soul is a prerequisite to become one of the best athletes in the world, then I got the right profile 🙂

But I am sure that if we were all to write our autobiography, we would share the same kind of injuries and weaknesses.

On the other side, I keep in mind two great moments from those books.

Agassi, in his book, shares the time when he was single and told his entourage that he liked Steffi Graf. And then it’s so cute to see how much we’re all the same when it comes to Love J

Agassi acts all shy. Asks himself 25000 questions. His crew tries to reassure him and comes up with tactics to help him meet Steffi Graf « by coincidence ». But Steffi Graf has a boyfriend so it’s complicated so they can only send each other texts. Agassi checks his cell 50 times per hour 😉 It’s cute 🙂

Wilkinson’s career is a mix of success and injuries. Not a very balanced mix since it’s probably something like 10% success, 90% injuries.

That’s how Adidas created the following ad for him:


I’m being all teary and shaky while reading this. I think about my injuries. I think about my three knee surgeries, which prevented me from dancing with my girlfriend. I think about my years of depression where my headaches were too strong to let me make love to my girlfriend. Then I think about my heart…damn, I never lost him.

Impossible is nothing. It’s true.

Thursday 21st – Day 14

Last night, I started thinking about the end of my season and 2015. I need to know what I want to « attract ».

As you know, there’s no way I want to spend the winter in France, training in the cold. The Southern hemisphere’s got to call me!

Most of the time, it’s Australia and New Zealand I think about.

But this morning, my mom calls me and says:

« I spoke to Pascale yesterday and she invites us to her place. There’s a room waiting for us. »

« Her place » is in Rio de Janeiro.

I guess Brazil is sunny enough for me 😉

Friday 22nd – Day 15

Ever since Monday, I feel like a 3rd lung started growing inside my chest.

Is it already thanks to the altitude? Or thanks to a breathing exercise I started doing on that day?

During that exercise, I seat quietly. It kind of looks like some yoga. For 10 seconds, I inhale and control with my nose. For the next 10 seconds, I exhale, still with my nose, and still controlling. In all, I do this for 10 to 20 minutes.

Remember: To control and nose only!

In a couple days, I’ve improved so I am able to do 13 seconds of each. But at the beginning it’s not easy at all. When you’re left with almost no oxygen, after 9 seconds of exhale, it’s easy to panic and take a deep breathe in only 2 or 3 seconds. But then you’re screwed up during the next 7 to 8 seconds. It reminds of the sensation when, after a turn in the pool, I go back to the surface thinking « gimme some air, gimme some air!».

In addition, when you inhale, your lungs are often 95% full of air after 6 or 7 seconds. So it becomes interesting to strengthen your breathing muscles during those last few seconds.

You got it, it seems like an interesting exercise.

During a usual training week, I swim about 15k. But ever since Monday, in just 4 days, I already swam 19k!

So to top it off, my coach just sent me a message:

« Today, 100×100 meters. 15’’ recovery ».

Yes, you got it right. That’s 10k in one session. It took me 3h56.

My longest swim set, before that, was in May: 5k in 2h12.

Not too bad this 3rd lung, uh ? 😉

Bye-bye and take care of your health.

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