BY NANCY HESLIN
Since March 14, Women’s Swimrun World Champion Fanny Kuhn has been in lockdown in Barcelona and unable to practice any outdoor sports. On May 2, she will be allowed to leave her apartment for the first time to exercise, alone and for a brief period. You won’t want to miss a word of her Q&A interview.
SLM: You have been in lockdown since March 14. What have been the confinement rules in Spain and what is a typical day for you?
Fanny Kuhn: In Spain, the confinement rules have been strict. You can only go out of your home for necessities, such as purchasing food, taking care of elders or sick people. You have to be able to show proof of your reason to be walking outside if you do.
During this peculiar time, I have created a set routine for myself during the weekdays, as I found it easier to cope like this. I always get up at 7 am, do 30 minutes of yoga, have coffee on the balcony, and then start working. I am lucky to my job at Race.se to keep me busy!
On lunch break, I walk 4 times up and down the stars, and then after work at night, I do some sort of training on my carpet. It could either be an Instagram live workout, zoom workout or just some water-jug weight lifting with good music in the ears.
I have kept in touch with the outside world through calls and video calls with my family and close friends. Social media gives a somewhat fake connection with the outside world also, and I find it rather stressful spending too much time scrolling the phone. I watched the news a lot in the beginning, but now not so much anymore because EVERYTHING is about the coronavirus.
SLM: When you first learned that you wouldn’t be able to do any sports outdoor, what was your reaction?
FK: At first, I thought it was only going to be two weeks so I didn’t react that strongly, more taking it as a challenge. Here in Spain they’ve been extending the quarantine two weeks at a time, so it has actually been an okay way to adapt every time.
My last training was an ocean swim with my friends here in Barcelona. If only I had known it was my last one I would have stayed in for another hour!
SLM: What kind of indoor training have you been able to manage?
FK: My training indoors I’ve tried to vary: some strength workouts with big water bottles, various body weight exercises, Tabata, HIIT, workouts from my Trail running club, live workouts led by my swimming Club (Natacio Barcelona) and different Instagram workouts.
I’ve also used the MySwimPro app for dryland workouts, Virtual Swimrun with Envol Coaching and Zoom workouts with Wild Swimrun on Tuesdays. So I have tried to do a lot – and I’m a champ at push ups now!
SLM: You have remained inspirationally positive. How have you coped mentally with good and bad days?
FK: I have tried to stay positive and found things to do. If I am bored it is my own fault that I haven’t used my imagination well enough. I tried to use the time well but, of course, have had my bad days also.
There were a couple of days I just felt sorry for myself and laid in bed watching Netflix feeling the world is unjust. There were days when I went crazy being between these walls wanting to run away.
But I always got out of it, either by complaining and talking it out with my husband or putting my headphones on and jumping around in my bedroom, as well as thinking of this crisis in a bigger picture. How can I feel sorry for myself when there are nurses and doctors out there working under awful conditions to save the world? The least I can do is stay inside and follow the rules so they can fight the epidemic the easiest way possible.
SLM: Has it been difficult to follow your friends in Sweden posting photos of swim and run training, and also that they are together?
FK: It has been a bit difficult to deal with the fact that Sweden have different rules and are handling the crisis in a different and not as strict manner. At first, I was jealous of my friends in Sweden being able to hang out and train as usual. But I am happy for everyone who gets to keep the freedom to access nature – I would never ever want to take that away from someone just because I can’t be in the same situation myself.
Many athletes and many of my friends in Europe and the US are in the same situation as I am, and I have also realised that each culture and each country needs their way of coping with this in a way that makes sense for them. For example, I don’t think a strategy like the Swedish one would work in Spain. In Sweden you don’t kiss when greeting people, the streets are about four times as wide in Stockholm as in Barcelona, there are less people in general in public spaces … you get what I am trying to say.
SLM: What have you learned about yourself over the past two months?
FK: It has been a forced life break that I think in the long run will be good. I have tried to use well the extra time, in part to rest and be calm and let my mind wander, and in part to spend some time on projects I’ve been putting off. I think I need to take time like this in the future also, to not just keep running everywhere.
SLM: Learned any new skills?
FK: I started to take Catalan classes, done more yoga and become better at push ups. I’ve sorted every possible drawer and closet space in my apartment… and have also had the opportunity to spend more time than ever with my husband Jonathan, and luckily our relationship seems to have passed the test because we have not killed each other!
SLM: You will have some freedom from May 2 to exercise. What are you going to do first?
FK: I will probably put my wetsuit on and just run down the streets and throw myself into the water. I can’t wit to just stand on the beachwalk and look at the ocean without being scared of a police showing up behind me.
SLM: As the women’s swimrun world champion, how do you feel about racing this year in terms of your overall conditioning?
FK: I guess we will see how it feels this Saturday when I try to run (and swim) again after a 48-day break! I will come back with a report, but honestly I have no idea how far my staircase conditioning and strength have taken me in terms of keeping up the swimrun fitness.
SLM: What swimrun races are you hoping to do this year?
FK: My plan is to focus on races this fall so I have some time to get in good shape again. But right now it is hard to know what will be possible in terms of racing. I am happy as long as I get to go for a run in the mountains and a swim in the ocean with a few friends.
SLM: You started WILD Swimrun two years ago. How have the camps and community developed? What have you and cofounder Maria Rohman planned for this year?
FK: It will be hard to summarise 2 years in a paragraph, but ALOT has happened with WILD Swimrun. We are very excited about the community we’ve managed to create together with all the women of swimrun.
I think all that we have accomplished became evident now in the last ÖTILLÖ race in Catalina, California at the end of February. We had the WILD Community behind us online, as well as with us physically, We were a group of teams travelling together, different ages and levels – everything from a WILD team doing their very first Experience Distance, to Desiree and I who finished on top of the podium.
It is amazing to see that we can encourage and show people into the sport, but that even with different ambitions and goals we can support each other and have lots of fun before and after the race. In Catalina, we also got to speak to a reporter and were featured in The New York Times article about the race.
We also did a podcast together with the Low Tide Boyz, where we talked about our WILD Youth Initiative. Now, they are supporting us with a merchandise campaign where the earnings will go towards getting long women into swim. You can check it out here.
Sadly the Covid-19 epidemic has forced us to cancel two camps this spring, but that will not stop us. We are planning more activities this fall, and have recently started the WILD Swimrun Club, where we have switched the focus to online training and community during this time.
For example we have a weekly Zoom workout on Tuesdays with members joining from several different countries, from Spain to the US. It is really fun and an amazing support for me as well during this confinement to have Maria the WILD gang by my side.
For ÖTILLÖ’s latest Covid-19 race update, click here.
Article first published for Swimrun Life Magazine April 2020.