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Triathlon Transition: Fiona Collins at USC


Where are you in school?

  • University of Southern California

What time do you wake up on a regular basis?

  • During school I wake up around 7 am, but over the summer it’s more like 6 am so I can get my run in before it gets too hot. 

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

  • I immediately drink coffee. I am very addicted to coffee. 

What's for breakfast?

  • I’m vegan so I try to incorporate lots of protein into my breakfast. I usually have high protein, organic vegan sausage with a bagel and organic vegan eggs. And I always eat some sort of fruit. 

How many times do you work out on a non-race day?

  • When I am in the heart of triathlon training, I always have two workouts a day. Swimming and biking are on one day, and then track and lifting are on the other day. 

How often are you in the gym or doing PT?

  • I go to the gym 2-3 times a week. And I do PT every day. I am still recovering from an injury in my left calf and foot, so I do my PT exercises before every workout. 

What's your favorite event?

  • I love the 1500m because it feels faster and more exciting than the 5k or 10k. 

How many meals/what time do you eat?  What's typical (be honest)?

  • I try to make sure I have three square meals a day, but when you are going to classes all day and doing homework/studying, sometimes I’ll forget lunch, but I try to make up for it by having a feast for dinner. 

What's your daily training shoe?

  • I have been running in the nylon plated saucony shoes for track workouts, and then the asics gel nimbus for easier runs. 

What's your racing shoe(s), bike, suit for triathlon?

  • My racing shoe is the saucony's endorphin elite shoe, my bike is a racing bike I borrow from my team, and then my suit is the zip up onesie that has USC TRI written all over the sleeves and chest. 

What's your MPW in-season versus out-of-season?

  • My in-season MPW is 50-60. My out-of-season MPW is around 40. 

Do you take a recovery period after meets?  After championship meets?  Between seasons?

  • The recovery for races is typically an easy swim interval workout. But no, we don’t really have off days, just active recovery days. 

Do you nap? 

  • No, I typically have a hard time falling asleep. I’ve never been a napper. 

How many hours of sleep do you routinely get at night?

  • On a good night, I get 8 hours. But in the thick of exams it’s more like 5 hours. 

Do you cross-train or participate in any other athletics?  Did you as a young kid?

  • Triathlon is a sport where you are constantly cross training. As a young kid, I played club soccer, but ended up quitting to run cross country full time. 

Why do you run/compete?

  • I compete because I love pushing myself past my limits. Competing gives me more confidence, and, overall, competing lets me show myself what my body can do if I put 100% effort into it. 

What do you eat after a big meet? After a hard workout?

  • I love to go to chipotle and get the flood bowl. The flood bowl is double of everything: double the rice, double the beans, and double the guac. 

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you don't diverge from — i.e., socks, stretch, hair, favorite song, etc?

  • Yes, I always have to do a couple dynamic stretched before I warm up, and I always have to listen to the song “I don’t f*ck with you” by Big Sean. 

What's your favorite subject in the classroom?

  • I have always loved writing, it has always just come naturally to me. So, any subject that involves writing long papers and doing research is my favorite. 

Do you have any outside hobbies or interests - art, music, etc?

  • I play guitar and sing. I am looking into getting a minor in music. I also have painted multiple large-sized murals. 

Do you plan to compete post-collegiately?  Where, and in what disciplines?

  • I will definitely continue distance running and triathlon after college. I want to one day do an iron man and an ultramarathon. 


What is your favorite triathlon event, and which challenges you the most?

  • My favorite event in tri is the 10k run in an olympic distance triathlon. The Malibu olympic distance triathlon was the first triathlon I ever competed in, and I placed 2nd overall for collegiate females in the 10k run. The run in a triathlon challenges me the most because when you get off the bike, your legs feel like jello/spaghetti noodles. So, it’s really hard to run fast splits when your legs have turned to mush. 

How did you find your event?

  •  I have always been a runner. In high school, I ran varsity XC and track for 4 years at Ben Franklin. I also ran for Road Runners Track Club over the summers and went to the Junior Olympics. My long history of competitive running in high school gave me an edge in triathlons, because the run is more important than the swim, and I was already pretty good at biking. 

Do you have a private coach at any time during the year?

  • The USC triathlon team has their own coach (Corey Norris). He is an amazing coach and was also a USC triathlete years ago. 

How important is team culture to you?

  • Of course. A strong team culture is what makes the long hours spent training worthwhile. The spirit of the team is what brings the best training out of people. A great team culture fosters healthy competition and makes grueling workouts more fun.   

Who has made the biggest impact on you as an athlete?

  • My high school track coach has had the greatest impact on me. Running for him gave me a lot of grit. He was a tough coach, definitely not the kind that tells you that you did good when you didn’t. If you didn’t run the time he wanted, he made sure you knew he was disappointed. But this is what was so great about him. He was hardcore, which made his athletes hard core. He is the reason I always made sure to leave everything out on the track. Because the worst feeling is knowing you could’ve tried harder. 

As a young athlete, who in sports did you look up to?

  • Alyson Felix. I actually ended up meeting her, when she came for the reopening of USC’s track, now named after her. 

What is your favorite memory associated with sports?

  • Before the San Diego triathlon, my friends and I parked our car at the race starting line and slept there overnight, so we could wake up at the race. It was so cold when we woke up; it was 38 degrees outside and I had to jump into a freezing lake right when I woke up, that was the worst swim of my life. My feet, face, and hands went completely numb. Even though it was a painful race, it was still fun to car camp with all my friends and laugh about the race afterwards while eating an extra large pizza from Costco in the parking lot, still cold and smelly from the murky, freezing lake water. 

What advice would you give a youngster just starting off in athletics?

  • Embrace your nerves, and learn to love when you fail. Let all the races you lose and injuries you overcome be fuel for you to become a fearless athlete. 

Is there anything else that is essential to know about you as an athlete?

  • I owe a lot of my life success to the discipline sports has taught me. 


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