Fitness Flex: Stay in the Work, a Solo Ironman with Scott Thompson

Fitness Flex: Stay in the Work, a Solo Ironman with Scott Thompson

Welcome to Fitness Flex, the Better Body series where we highlight athletes within our community who inspire us to dig deeper in our own training.

Today, we’ll get to know Better Body team member Scott Thompson and his odd-defying journey, from a youth of insecurity to the pinnacle of mental tenacity — completing a solo Ironman against all odds.

Here’s what to expect in today’s Fitness Flex feature on Scott Thompson.

  • Introduction to Scott Thompson 
  • Scott’s Mindset Shift toward Hybrid Training 
  • Against All Odds: Completing the Solo Ironman 
  • Scott's Messages for the Beginner Hybrid Athlete 
  • Train like Scott Thompson

Fitness for Personal Development:
An Introduction to Scott Thompson

While our Superhero Spotlight series focuses on world renowned elite athletes at the top of their game, we will focus on inspiring members of our direct community for Fitness Flex.

If you follow Better Body on Instagram, you may recognize Scott from our short form video content. We brought Scott on for his bodybuilding knowledge, inspiring training routine and his talent as a creative… and in the past year, we were blown away by his progress as he put laser focus on a new goal of becoming a hybrid athlete.

Along with being a member of the Better Body team, Scott is a personal trainer and online coach helping individuals on their fitness journey. But he wasn’t always fit.

Growing up, Scott faced the challenges of being overweight. He was bullied by his peers, struggled daily with self doubt, and avoided taking his shirt off. 

This was not easy and could have beaten him down into submission … but the spark of determination was there, and Scott decided to use his struggles as fuel. 

This decision brought him to the gym in 2017, when he was 16 and still in high school. Like many of us, the gym became his refuge of mental health, a place where he developed grit and learned consistency.

That first year of training, he lost 40lbs and learned an important lesson that would only get stronger with time: 

The true, most lasting joy of fitness comes from the sense of accomplishment of doing something you once thought you could never do. 

With this lesson learned, Scott’s mindset in training became focused on personal development over aesthetics from a young age. 

“Focusing on fitness helped me find a sense of purpose and direction. After high school, I decided to study physical fitness in college and become a personal trainer. Ultimately, that decision to start lifting weights helped me build my character and transform from being a young kid to the man I am today.” - Scott Thompson


Scott’s Mindset Shift toward Hybrid Training 

As Scott advanced in his bodybuilding journey, he realized that, while showing up to train at the gym was a great consistent practice, it had also become his comfort zone. And growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.

While Scott had quickly fallen in love with and maintained a devoted practice to lifting heavy weights, he knew exactly what types of fitness were beyond his comfort levels. And that, like for so many of us - is cardio, specifically running and swimming.

It just so happened that Scott’s realization was happening at the same time that hybrid training as a fitness philosophy was taking more space in centre stage. Hybrid training is an approach to fitness that develops one’s excellence across several exercise modalities like lifting, running, swimming and cycling. This means training for overall fitness in strength and endurance - rather than specializing in one over the other.

Scott learned about elite hybrid athlete David Goggins, who inspired him with the relentless way he overcame adversity. Like Scott, David Goggins was at one point overweight - and in a seemingly overnight decision, made the commitment to focus on his fitness and change his life forever. 

Goggins has completed over 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons and ultra-triathlons, setting course records and regularly placing in the top 5 - as well as breaking the Guinness World Record for pull-ups, completing 4,030 in 17 hours.

This inspiration renewed Scott’s resolve in the first lesson he ever learned from fitness - that the true, most lasting joy of fitness comes from accomplishing something he once thought he could never do.

And what’s something Scott, and so many of us bodybuilders think we could never do?

Endurance sports like long distance running and swimming. 

So, last year, Scott decided to step up his hybrid training by giving himself 3 major goals for 2023:

  • 2 bodybuilding competitions
  • An Ironman 73 (half the Ironman distance) which consists of a 1.2 mile (2km) swim, a 56 mile (90km) bike ride and a half marathon, 13.1 miles (21.1km) in late August
  • And a powerlifting meet in December

Scott recently ended up completing a full Ironman distance just 3 months after a grueling few months of bodybuilding prep and competition.


Against All Odds: Completing a Solo Ironman 

Scott’s Ironman experience was filled with challenges - leading up to, and during the event.

So much went wrong, leading up to a subpar set-up for race day.

From the beginning, Scott only had 11 weeks to train for his half Ironman distance because of 2 bodybuilding competitions - prep for which are highly restrictive and not conducive for endurance training at the same time. 

In the fog of bodybuilding prep, Scott actually signed up for the full Ironman distance: 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike ride, and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.20 km) run… realizing so only 5 weeks before the race.

This was a shock, considering at this point, Scott’s maximum distance in training was only running a marathon once, swimming 2.5kms and cycling 100km respectively.. He knew he was nowhere near the physical capability of doing a full distance Ironman. 

He decided to go for it anyway, seeing it as a blessing in disguise … that maybe he signed up for it subconsciously, that he wanted to push himself far beyond his comfort zone and see what he was capable of. So, he ramped up training for 3 weeks to accumulate volume as much as he could.

Just 2 weeks before the event, Scott received news of an emergency that took him back to his home in Ontario to be with his family. The last few weeks of training fell to the wayside, as his mind was on much more important matters. 

One week before the Ironman in Penticton, race officials made the decision to cancel the race due to wildfires ravaging the area. 

Wildfires had led to a state of emergency, loss of homes, and families being displaced. Canceling the race was the right decision considering the circumstances… but losing the opportunity to race, without a rescheduled event, was heartbreaking for Scott and over a thousand athletes who had trained for over a year to compete.

"I want to experience that shared consciousness of the race... To be surrounded by people who have trained so hard for so long to give it their all for this one day.”

Not wanting to give up on his goal despite so many adversities, Scott made the decision to still complete the Ironman distance independently, even without the race-day camaraderie he had been looking forward to. 

“I needed to see this goal through - there was no way I was quitting at that point.”

Scott made a plan - laying out an Ironman distance course local to where he lived. This led to another challenge, as the course was different from what he had been training for.

While he was most nervous about the swimming portion, this actually went the best. With the support of his partner who paddleboarded alongside him to keep him on course, Scott succeeded in the swimming portion without too much trouble.

Cycling - mountain biking and road biking - was a huge part of Scott’s life growing up, and so he was the most excited for this section. Unfortunately, the cycling portion of his Ironman was the beginning of some major hurdles.

To avoid traffic and stop lights, Scott planned the cycling section as loops of North Vancouver’s Seymour Demonstration Forest - a paved 20km trail for cyclists and pedestrians only. However, due to a closed section on his planned route, the cycling course he laid out had much more elevation (9000ft) than he had trained for… and Scott paid for it with severe cramping in his quads.

Cramping this early on in a long distance endurance race is a terrible sign. For Scott, cramping resulted from being not hydrated enough leading up to the race, and ultimately, not being conditioned enough for the elevation he attempted.

Scott’s solution to keep himself going was to lap a flatter, straight, 3KM section back and forth for the remaining ~ 85kms. This was mental torture - complete suffering of total mundanity. 

“It felt like torture, doing the same thing, over and over, so many times. That broke me, I was completely alone for 7 and a half hours.”

In his training, Scott still found enjoyment in his suffering, because of a drive to push himself. He knew he would suffer doing his solo Ironman, but was looking forward to being surrounded by North Vancouver's beautiful scenery. However, this time, he couldn’t find any enjoyment. He felt absolutely crushed, not because he didn’t think he could finish mentally, but because his body was failing him - and he still had to run an entire marathon. 

The run was demoralizing, and Scott continued to struggle through cramps. The Better Body crew Max and Cooper joined Scott to run the furthest distance they had every run, 25kms - something Scott really appreciated, and something that helped him out a lot. 

Despite all these adversities telling him he shouldn’t compete - a family emergency, race cancellation and incomplete conditioning and training volume for the distance, Scott’s will was stronger and for 15:50 hours he pushed on with the determination to finish. 

While this Ironman didn’t exactly go according to plan, Scott looks forward to another opportunity to crush this distance.

Scott's Messages for the Beginner Hybrid Athlete 

For those who think they ‘can’t run:’

“Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t speak that into reality. At one point, I was you. So who is to say you can’t do it too?!

Start by walking a block.

The next week, walk two blocks.

Next week, run a block.

Then run two blocks.

Then three.

Keep at it and see how much you’ve changed within 3, 6, 9 months.” - Scott Thompson 

On setting goals: 

"Burn the boats. Set a goal, and give yourself no way out. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Hold yourself accountable. It's gonna be tough, but you will learn so much about yourself and how you can overcome life's most difficult challenges. This will help you far beyond training, extending into the real world and real problems.

Even if you have a big goal, break that up into smaller goals and let yourself feel the high of positive reinforcement of achieving your smaller goals. Then, keep going." - Scott Thompson

For those curious about hybrid training: 

"We want to challenge ourselves and push our mind and body, challenging the barriers of what fitness means. 

Before, we’d look up to someone for being strong OR fast. 

Today, we look up to athletes who have a combination of these traits, doing insane same day feats like a powerlifting PR and a marathon within hours.

Not too long ago we thought it was impossible to do this. 

This sport is very inspiring because it shows us what humans are truly capable of - and so, what WE ourselves are capable of.” - Scott Thompson

(Pictured: Better Body Competition Plates | Sets of Two)


Train like Scott Thompson

For beginner hybrid athletes looking to follow in Scott’s footsteps, here’s a breakdown of a typical week in Scott’s training schedule along with tips to make the most out of each session.

Monday: Leg Strength Training Workout + Track Training

Tip: Start the week strong with a focus on building leg power. Include compound movements such as squats and lunges. For track training, focus on interval sprints to build speed and stamina.

Tuesday: Upper Body Strength

Tip: Engage different muscle groups with various strength training exercises. Include exercises like bench press, pull-ups, and shoulder presses for a comprehensive upper body workout.

Wednesday: Rest from Gym + Easy Run

Tip: Give your muscles a break from the heavy lifting, but keep your body active with a light, easy run in Zone 2 to maintain endurance and keep the blood flowing.

Thursday: Full Body Hypertrophy + Tempo Run

Tip: Full body hypertrophy workouts are great for muscle building. Combine this with a tempo run to enhance your cardiovascular fitness.

Friday: Rest

Tip: Adequate rest is crucial for muscle recovery and overall performance. Use this day to hydrate, stretch, and mentally prepare for the upcoming training sessions.

Saturday: Full Body Strength + Long Run

Tip: Have a full-body strength workout to maintain muscle mass and strength. Follow up with a solid state long run.

Sunday: Rest

Tip: Complete rest allows your body to recover and build strength. Engage in restorative activities you enjoy and prepare yourself mentally for another week of training.

Scott’s favourite piece of Better Body Equipment:

“The Omni Arms are a Power Rack attachment that give you so much versatility in your training. These plate-loaded arms mimic the adjustable handle seen on other gym equipment and can be positioned vertically, horizontally, or other directions for diverse dynamic workouts.”

We hope this feature helps you discover the transformative impact hybrid training can have on your physical and mental well-being - just like Scott did.

Unlock your ultimate potential by integrating diverse strength and endurance workouts into your routine, equipped by Better Body.


(Pictured: Better Body Omni Arms and Power Rack)