Inside the mind of The Hybrid Racoon
Dylan Scott, known on Instagram as The Hybrid Racoon, is on a roll. He won the Deka Fit Northeast Elite Race in August, finishing in 29:55, the year’s third-best time globally. Last month, Scott traveled to Sweden and won the Hyrox race in Malmö with a time of 58:48. As a result, he will almost certainly qualify for the first Hyrox major of the year on November 11 in Chicago.
In addition to his competitive success, Dylan is also known for his prodigious training volume and grueling workouts.
The Hybrid Letter spoke with Dylan about his training philosophy, his mental approach to racing, and his advice on how to get started building an aerobic engine that lands you on the podium.
The interview was edited for length and clarity.
The Hybrid Letter: On Instagram, you are known for your extreme workouts. But for people who are just getting into hybrid fitness — maybe training for their first Hyrox or Deka race — how would you advise them to get started?
Dylan Scott: One of the beauties of hybrid sport is the fact that it is so multifaceted. So, say someone comes in without a lot of running experience. One approach is just to start running a lot. Well, the problem is, if you try to run a lot right off the bat, you’re going to get hurt.
But if you come into hybrid, and you just need to build up your [aerobic] engine, well, that's awesome. Because what you can do is set up three or four different machines. You can have a SkiErg, a rower, an assault bike, and then maybe somewhere to run. And you can spend little amounts of time on each of them. So it kind of taxes your body all around, but all of that is still working on the cardiovascular system. So you're building up that engine without accruing a whole lot of damage on one particular muscle group or movement pattern.
So early on, have a lot of Zone 2 [low-to-moderate intensity] training. Make it super multifactorial. Don’t just go on a big run or spend the entire time on the SkiErg. Really blend it all together, so that when you wake up the next day, your body is not like completely trashed in one area. And you feel like: “I can continually work out for 30 to 45 minutes without ever getting too overly taxed.” That will help you start to build that engine in a lot of different ways.
THL: A lot of people struggle to find the motivation and consistency to prepare themselves the way they might want to for a Hyrox or a Deka race. As someone who is famous for their work ethic, do you have any advice for people who are struggling to incorporate this training into their lives?
DS: My word of advice to folks is to get a bike in your house. They're not going to completely crush your pocket, and it’s extremely low impact. It allows you to start building fitness and doesn't take up a lot of space. It's quiet. Being able to work on your fitness in your house versus having to get dressed, and go to the gym — it makes a big difference. And once you get yourself moving, you're going to be more motivated to get out and do stuff. Because if you just start your day off with an easy 30-minute ride, that at least gets the ball moving in the right direction.
THL: In a Hyrox or a Deka race, at a certain point, your body basically starts screaming at you to stop. But to reach your highest potential you have to push through that and keep finding a way to give effort even when it's very uncomfortable. You’ve had a lot of success in these races. How do you maintain a high level of effort when things get tough?
DS: I think, for one thing, you have to look back at your training, and there should be times that you’ve done workouts that hurt more than the race will. A race should be an exhibition of the fitness that you’ve built. Racing should be very controlled if you are having a good race. You shouldn’t start to lose control or have to give up control from a physical standpoint until fairly late in the race. That’s where you go, alright, I understand I’m about to go to a place where it’s no longer fun. I’m no longer enjoying this. And you need to in your training have done that before. We’re going to a dark place. We’re not going there for that long, but we are going to have to do it. Because to win races and put that finishing touch on stuff, you’ve got to be willing to go to that spot.
I look back and think, I’ve been here before. Going to the dark place multiple times in training sessions, allows you to go there in a race. Training should build not only fitness but confidence.
I spend a ton of my time in that Zone 2 [low-to-moderate] intensity area. Studies show that most Olympic-level athletes across disciplines spend close to 80% of their training in Zone 2. But the thing is, when you're in that 20%, don't piddle around. You have to go there every so often, and it needs to feel worse than it does in a race. The problem is some people try to go there too often. And that’s how you get burned out or hurt.
THL: What is an important part of your training that you think is commonly neglected by the average hybrid athlete?
DS: I don’t think they run enough. People put too much focus on station work and forget that half the race is running. I don't know if people are putting enough time into that facet of the sport because I see kind of the run times that are coming from the middle of the pack.
THL: What is a common tactical mistake you see from an average competitor at a Hyrox race?
I think people underestimate how hard the sled pull is going to be. I see that mistake happen a lot and that’s not something you are going to figure out on the fly. It’s something in training that you need to prepare for. Also, the ski erg, the first station, gets hit way too hard. Nothing about the ski erg is there to help you. It is only there to hurt you. And the only thing you can do is wreck your race.
THL: How many hours a week do you work out?
DS: 25 to 30.
THL: How many miles do you run a week?
DS: I run a little over 40 a week.
THL: What do you listen to when you’re working out?
DS: That’s going to depend on the session. If we are absolutely going to send it on a hard workout, I’m going to have a playlist with some uptempo rap music, and heavy metal. You want to get in that zone where you are ready to run through a wall. If it’s relaxed Zone 2 stuff, I’ll just listen to a book or a podcast. If I’m trail running, I like chill, pop music.
THL: How often do you take a day off?
DS: Whenever I feel like I need to. That is what I call my Pancake Day. Let’s say when I get up, I start peddling for 15 minutes and I feel like garbage. I’m like, Pancake Day. And on that day, I lay flat as a pancake and basically eat anything that might be the same carbohydrate composition as a pancake. So whenever my body tells me, I am taking a day off.
To see Dylan’s daily workouts, follow him on Instagram.
Movie review: Just. One. Mile.
Just. One. Mile. is a documentary about the 2021 Mid-State Mile, a deceptively simple ultra-running race with no set ending. The race takes place on a one-mile loop in Tennessee with about 340 feet of elevation. Competitors get 20 minutes to complete the mile. After the 20 minutes elapse, anyone who finishes starts the loop again. (You can use any extra time you have to rest and refuel.) The race continues until there is only one person left.
While almost anyone could complete a few laps, this race quickly gets very gnarly. The movie is a character study of athletes eager to see just how far they can push themselves. Some racers come with a large support team, and supplies for every conceivable situation. Another top competitor relies on an old plastic water bottle and a half-eaten bag of chips he found on the floor of his car.
There is no prize money. The winner gets a quilt made by the race director’s mom.
The star of the movie is Chadd Wright, a supremely confident former Navy Seal. But the best part of the movie is how the more relatable secondary characters deal with the extreme physical and mental exhaustion.
Don’t miss video: Jane Erbacher on the SkiErg
In hybrid racing, the SkiErg is probably the part of the competition where there is the biggest variation in form, even among top athletes. Jane Erbacher of Erg Army has trained some of the top athletes in the world on how to use Concept2 machines like the SkiErg, including six-time CrossFit World Champion Tia-Clair Toomey.
In this video from 2019, Erbacher describes common mistakes and demonstrates optimal form on the machine. (The first participant in the video, Eric Murray, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in rowing.)