Architect triathlete


Scott Thomson Face

3rd June 2016

“I first started just to get fit – now I train 18 hours a week”

Landscape architect Scott Thomson has completed the IronMan Frankfurt, finished seventh at the 2015 British triathlon championships and represented Great Britain at the world duathlon championships. Here, he talks his tri life…

I have a very understanding boss, who knows triathlon means a lot to me. They’re pretty flexible, so I take the odd extended lunch break, leave early now and again, come in a little bit late but then I do make up the hours elsewhere. I’m a landscape architect, so basically work on providing public spaces, parks, urban squares, that kind of thing. It is tough to balance work and training, and then life as well.

I had quite a few years doing not very much during university. I always fancied a road bike, and when I bought one someone said I should give triathlon a go. I first started to get fit, then when I began to do alright at events, I took it a bit more seriously. When that happened it demanded more time and then it became a lifestyle choice because I was doing 18 hours of training a week. Now I train weekdays for two to three hours, then on Saturdays I’ll have a much bigger day – maybe five or more hours – and then try to have Sundays completely off.

I’ve never been a swimmer, I learnt to swim but that’s it. It’s still the weakest part of my triathlon. For the first couple of triathlons I was just coaching myself, and it wasn’t until I joined local club and doing proper coaching sessions with someone watching me swim and analysing technique that I gained a bit more focus. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence swimming but it’s still not perfect.

Jumping into a dark lake with hundreds of people splashing around, can be quite intimidating. It’s quite an experience but you get over it. I now tend to think about technique to try and counter the chaos that’s going on around me. I probably enjoy swimming the most now because even if it’s my weakest I see progression all the time.

Joining a club is the best advice I’d give anyone. I did it for a year on my own but it’s an individual sport, so when you’re in a club you feel like a team. You meet like-minded people with the same goals. You’re there together, you encourage each other and you feed off other people’s energy. Local triathlon clubs are very friendly and welcoming.

I find sport has a positive, calming effect. It’s almost like meditation. When I’m training I’m totally in the moment of the activity and it completely relaxes me, taking me away from the other things going on in my life.

You do feel a bit smug when you’re going to work and you’ve already done a session. People are coming in bleary eyed and you’ve training for an hour and a half. Then there are the moments when you’ve been training in a pool first thing and you step outside and it’s a beautiful sunny day and you just feel great.

I was first put off by the cost of triathlon. Training for three different sports, different kit for each, made me a bit hesitant because I thought it would cost an absolute fortune. But you only have to spend as much as you want. When you’re starting, any bike will do, most races have wetsuit hire and you need trainers for running – it’s easy to cobble things together.

Experimenting with nutrition before a race is a mistake. That’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way. Races normally start earlier, but there was one that began at 11 and so I decided to make the most of the hotel buffet breakfast and eat everything. By the time I got to the race, I was really sick. It wasn’t very pleasant and it didn’t stop there – it went on for two days after.

I see a lot of people with £7,000 bikes but without the fitness to back it up. People are drawn to bikes and they often go for top-of-the-range when they just don’t need it. When you arrive on seven or eight grand’s worth of carbon time trial bike you’d better be good for it. If you’re going to get a sportscar, make sure you’ve got the engine to go with it.

Just wearing the Great Britain jersey made me feel on top of the world. The race itself, at the duathlon world championships, didn’t go that well, but just to be part of it, was incredible. When you race in the GB vest and everyone cheers you on, well, it makes you feel like a superstar.

I can’t stress enough I didn’t expect to be part of team GB again. That’s what’s driven me on, I used to train a lot, but nothing like I do now – it was only when I qualified that I suddenly thought, “I could be alright at this, maybe I should take it a bit more seriously. And that’s I joined Joel and the HBC Jets. I’ve never looked back.

To view Scott’s top ten training tips, click here.