The Lucky Buzz

ben-with-olympiansThis week I was ordered to take time off from training. It’s weird, but as soon as I finished my last race all I could think about was getting ready for next season. I just had what Mr. ITU calls a breakthrough season, but to me it seems like a lucky season. It was lucky that the chase pack at Treasure Island didn’t catch me. I peaked two weeks early for Worlds and benefitted by winning Alcatraz, and if Cameron Dye hadn’t been worrying about how he would ask Natalie to marry him at the finish line of the Amica Triathlon he may not have let me get away on the run. But I’ve always thought luck was way overrated, and certainly not an accident.

The real breakthrough this year was in my attitude. The past few years I’ve tried diligently to become a loner. To suppress the spontaneous, fun-loving, outgoing and silly parts of my personality because they aren’t the head-down, single focused, “serious” athlete character that fits the paradigm of a successful endurance athlete. It all came to a head this year once I was living at the Olympic Training Center and for the first time had the opportunity to completely shut out everyone from my life – to prioritize my training above everything – including all my extrinsic sources of happiness. I trained my ass off, fought perpetual injury and illness and found myself alone, knee-deep in summer with an awful case of depression and no real hope for improvement. How could things get better when I was already living the “right” way according to everyone I looked up to and trusted?

Luckily, I spent my birthday in Seattle and realized how much energy and happiness I receive from the people who care about me. I’m not the quiet passive selfish athlete that I’ve tried to be in the past, and what makes me tick is not the same battery that drives my competition. Mental health, I’ve come to realize, needs to be the priority. I started the sport because I love competing, I love training, and I love the dedicated and methodical lifestyle. But in order to really enjoy triathlon, I have to balance that lifestyle by including education and friendship in my priorities. No more pretending to be a hermit. No more selfish, unbalanced, lifeless living. This year I learned to believe in myself and what I’m capable of, rather than pretending to be someone I’m not. I have the greatest support network of any triathlete, with great sponsors, a family that will stand by me no matter how crazy they think I am, and friends who have stuck around through some of the most one-sided relationships I can imagine. I’m not your average Joe, and I’m done trying to act like it.

So now my mind is buzzing. I’m taking my time off, but my body is twitching with excitement for what’s to come. After a few changes in my approach to the daily grind I’ve become a lot happier. I’m recovering faster from the hard work, excited for training, excited to be a professional triathlete, excited to be a student, to have people involved in my life, and to be entering the final season before the Olympics. And, yeah, luck seems to have come knocking on my door.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. Great post. Your hair is rediculous and the girls have enjoyed watching you race on TV. You will have to explain to Sada why you fell on the bike @ Nationals. I said it was icy maybe. Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle. Hopefully you can get over to the rock for a swim with us and I can show you what Z2 looks like.

  2. Superb season. You are doing us proud here in the PNW. If I remember right from your posts: I think the extra rest you started taking helped quite a bit. Good for your mental health too. Make it a great off season and looking forward to seeing what happens next year.

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