Girl Talk: Dotsie’s Tips

Photo: Casey Gibson

Many of you may know Dotsie Bausch as a 2012 silver medalist at the recent 2012 London Olympic Games. Along with her teammates Jennie Reed, Lauren Tamayo and Sarah Hammer, Dotsie put in a tremendous effort to capture the silver medal at the Women’s Team Pursuit event. Prior to the Olympics, and whilst being a seven-time U.S. National Champion and a two-time Pan-Am Championship winner, Dotsie used her off season in 2002 to launch her own personal coaching business. Originally a women-specific initiative, Bausch’s business grew quickly, and she began coaching men as well. Dotsie recently shared with us some of her insightful training and coaching ideas regarding everything from maintaining off season fitness to recovery, coaching and goal-setting. Bausch’s coaching philosophy ‘stresses the importance of personalized training programs tailored specifically for the individual with a methodology that emphasizes a mind and body balance.’

Thoughts on the off-season: I always evaluate this at the end of each season with my clients. No one is ever the same, nor do they have the same needs or [email protected] desires. It’s important, first off, to check physical exhaustion and energy levels and have a blood panel done. Equally important, though, is to assess the mental state of the athlete. Some people need two months off the bike to regain the joy they had at the beginning of the season, but some people only need two weeks, and that can even feel too long to them. Some need total rest, and some need to cross-train. I look at the athlete’s ability to balance stress, their sleep habits, their jobs, their family balance and their attitudes to help make decisions on what their time off should look like.

On fueling: I suffered from anorexia and bulimia for years. When I found cycling as one of my pathways toward healing, I started to understand the effects real nutrition could have on my performance. It has been an evolution, but today I can honestly say that my whole-foods, nutrient-dense, plant-based, organic food choices have me recovering at almost double the rate of my teammates, who are 10 years younger than I am. The golden egg of any sport is finding a natural way to produce the maximum workload to encourage the most growth potential and adaptation to reach a new level. If you recover quickly, you can wake up and train hard again day in and day out. If you are not recovering well, you have to take too many rest days, losing valuable advantages over your competitors. Because of my history, I made a promise to myself that no food in the whole wide world is off limits. With that comes freedom of choice. Nowadays, I choose foods that are nutrient- dense and filled with the biggest bang for the buck per gram of food. I don’t want empty food, and by that I mean anything that’s a filler but not a ?doer’ inside my body. As an athlete, I want all of my food to be healing something, replenishing something else and growing new features within my muscle structure to increase my capacity. Now that we are in the off-season, that almost becomes more important, because this is the time of year when we create what we will be able to handle from a loading perspective come race season.

On setting goals: Goal-setting is the cornerstone of a successful everything. Without goals, we can’t write a plan, and we easily lose motivation and desire. The feeling we receive from reaching our goals sets us up for success in setting and reaching another goal. I always ask clients, ?Without an end goal, how will you write your story?

On hiring a professional coach as a recreational cyclist: Professional coaching is like anything else in life; you don’t paint the outside of your own house yourself unless you want the paint to run after a few rains, or see streaks in the paint, or fall off the ladder and break your leg because you don’t know the proper safety procedures. You hire a professional to do it right the first time, otherwise you are wasting valuable time. I have had people come to me who tried to train themselves for a few years in the beginning, and they only ended up frustrated and tired, with none of their goals met. Finding a great coach is like finding a great therapist. You must interview the coach, have multiple conversations to see if your personalities fit, and decide on how you will work best together. The more you can divulge about yourself from the getgo, the deeper the relationship will go, and the more you will get out of it.

On how scary the velodrome is: Riding and racing the track can be a critical positive step for any cyclist on any level who wants to improve their handling and their skills. It’s fun, exhilarating and a little bit scary at first, but that’s what I love about it the most. Any time you have a little bit of fear involved, it makes you feel so alive!

Must-do, good practices for racing and training: Don’t let nerves deter you from enjoying the process. Nerves can really ruin an experience. I have seen nerves get to people so badly that they completely quit. Nerves have to be managed, but they also have to be used in your favor. Let the excitement and adrenaline move you into a place of desire for the challenge of the race or ride. This will take pre-race visualization, but it is very effective. Also, you must focus on the process and not the entire event. If you feel really nervous, start focusing on small things that you have control over, like packing your race bag early, eating the right food, stretching, and breathing deeply and laughing! That’s right, laugh with your friends and ride mates. It’s really just a bike race/ride at the end of the day, no matter how hard you have prepared and trained. It’s a race and anything can happen. So relax, go in with a positive attitude and have some fun out there! Preparing for the tough times on the bike: I prepare for it every day. While I physically train almost every single day, I mentally and emotionally train just as hard. You cannot expect your mind to be fit and ready for the intensity of competition if you haven’t trained it to be that way. I use visualization techniques; I use vivid imagery work, incorporating all five senses and a lot of positive self-talk. I work with a fantastic sports psychologist named Wendy Borlabi, and she helps me get mentally stronger. I think having a mental coach is just as important as having a physical one. If you can’t handle the stress and pressure of big competitions when it comes down to the wire, what were all those intervals and long rides for anyway?

The pre-race mindset: I think about why I am doing this to myself. No, seriously; no other time is it so incredibly apparent that I hate this. That sounds so negative, but I am just being honest. I love what I do, and then all of the sudden, on the day of competition, I hate it. I have worked a lot on this. My psychologist helped me turn the dread into opportunity. We call it my ?three minutes of opportunity.’ I have to view the race that day as my opportunity to shine and do what I do best. About an hour out of competition at the 2011 World Championships, Jamie Staff [2008 Olympic gold medalist] came up to me and held both of my wrists like I was 5 years old and asked if he could give me some advice. He said, ?Dotsie, I want you to go out there and just do what you always do in training. You have done this a million times. Just go do what you do.’ That was pivotal for me. In that moment, he literally altered my perception of the magnitude of the event, which reduced the pressure I was feeling, and allowed me to deliver my best performance. Just go do what you do. When I give lectures on mental toughness, I always tell my audience that you have to just go do what you do, just like in training, because the race is no different. There is no way you are going to get to the start line and the judge is going to say, ?Psych, you’re going to be competing in gymnastics today instead of cycling.’ No, you are going to compete in cycling, exactly the same way you train every single day of your life.

Dotsie’s mantra: One is that I feel this entire process of being able to be a professional cyclist is a gift. An actual, amazing gift, considering my past and what I took my body through during my illness with an eating disorder 15 years ago. So although I have days where I just don’t want to train, I always think back to those much darker days, and that being able to do what I do is nothing shy of a miracle, and that really motivates me.

In other words, my suggestion is to always find something every single day that you are grateful for. That will keep your spirits up more than you could ever imagine.  

For more information, coaching or to attend a training camp with Dotsie Bausch, check out Empower Coaching System Camp at

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