Dom Scott on Staying Present, Practicing Gratitude

Elite runner and Hyperice athlete Dom Scott running.

Team Boss is known for being a powerhouse team of elite female runners based in Boulder, Colorado. Head coach Joe Bosshard has assembled a diversely talented, tough-as-nails group of women who continuously set and break records in Track and Field.

Dominique (Dom) Scott joined the group in 2016, and the Hyperice athlete represents her home country of South Africa at international events. Between intense training with the Team Boss crew, and toughing out a global pandemic, it’s safe to say Scott has learned a thing or two about keeping a healthy headspace during trying times.

We sat down with Scott to learn more about how gratitude and a present-focused mindset helps her dream big for the future.

FF: How has your goal setting changed in the face of the pandemic?

DS: I would say that my goals haven’t changed, but the timeline of my goals has changed.

The pandemic was definitely a hard pill to swallow. I had just moved to Boulder, so I could be at altitude with my training group full time. I think everyone had to stop and reassess where they were. It definitely gave me time to reassess where I’m at running-wise and look at my priorities, and make sure I was doing everything to be in the best shape coming into this year.

Last year was definitely tough racing. It just felt like everyone's world had been thrown upside down. I think going into this year, it just makes everything that much more special. The opportunities to race internationally and to race against competitors from other countries—it just feels more special. I have more gratitude for what I get to do on a daily basis: chasing dreams and competing for our countries.

FF: How did the pandemic impact your training?

DS: Joe [Bosshard] decided we would split into training pairs to keep our bubble as small as possible. I was paired with Emma [Coburn] and we were doing our workouts together and we’d try to keep our distance during those workouts. We’d have our water bottles on opposite sides of the road, trying to take every precautionary measure we could. It was definitely strange and weird. I felt really lucky to be in the group then, I think it would have been pretty hard if I was training solo at that time. We also have a private team gym we could use during that time so we really didn‘t miss a beat during strength training.

FF: How do you stay strong mentally and physically in challenging times?

DS: My mantras have changed over time. When I was younger and chasing these dreams that now I’m getting to live, my mantra was just the word “believe.” I had it all over my bedroom, it was written all over my journals, I had a ring that was engraved with “Believe.” In that phase of my life, it was all about believing that I could make my dreams a reality.

Now, I feel like I’m getting to live my dreams, and my mantra has changed to thoughts of gratitude and embracing every moment. I think 12-year-old Dom would be so proud of what I’m getting to do now.

I try to make sure I embrace it, enjoy it and don’t look too far ahead. When I’m on the track or in a race, I tell myself, “I’m getting to do this, enjoy it, don’t be scared and embrace this opportunity.” I even practice gratitude when training with my partners; I get to train with all these amazing women on a daily basis.

FF: What are ways you practice gratitude in your day?

DS: I started a new gratitude practice about a month ago. I was inspired by reading Deena Kastor’s book, she practices writing 10 things that she’s grateful for everyday. So I’ve been doing that the past month. It is really cool to stop and think on a daily basis “What am I grateful for today?” and it makes you stop and appreciate small things like when there’s good weather and I get to run outside.

Another way I practice gratitude is just being present in the moment. For me, being present and not looking ahead allows me to be grateful and grounded where I’m at. All of us are working for things that we want, it keeps us competitive and striving for more, which is amazing. But I sometimes find myself thinking too far ahead and not appreciating where I’m at.

FF: Do you have any tips on how to unite physical strength with mental strength training?

Professional runner Dom Scott uses a massage device on her hip

DS: Your physical health goes hand in hand with your mental health. Especially being a runner, your physical strength can only take you so far, your mental strength will take you to that next level.

To be honest, I’m not perfect at it. I’ve been in some race scenarios where the grandness of the meet and the competition overwhelmed me and I got nervous and wasn’t thinking about my race plan, and at the end of the race I definitely really regretted it.

My mental strength and mental game is something that I’m constantly working on. For me, a lot of it is visualization. Taking five to 10 minutes to visualize my race: how it’s going to play out, the sounds, the noises, the feelings I’m going to have, the whole environment around the race, really helps me. It’s been a key factor in my success throughout my career.

FF: What are some pillars of your race planning?

DS: My race plans can differ. It depends on the race and what I’m trying to achieve in the race and how challenging the race is going to be. They can be something as simple as knowing that with three laps to go, I'm going to make my move and not going to look back, or something as detailed as what I’m going to be thinking about every lap.

I remember going into the London Diamond League 5K in 2019, when I broke 15 minutes, I had a thought I wanted to think about for every lap because I knew the pace was going to be fast and I knew it was going to hurt. So I went into that race knowing what I was going to be thinking about for each of the 12 laps.

FF: When did you know you wanted to be a professional athlete?

DS: I remember when I was 12 and wanting to represent my country on the world stage. South Africa has been through situations where representing the country on a world stage wasn’t an option, whether it was because of the Aparatheid or something else politically.

I’m not really sure of the details, but I just remember thinking that even if I couldnt represent South Africa, I can control being a professional athlete and running in the Diamond League. It was something I knew I could control and that nobody else could put a stop to it.

FF: What advice would you give to your younger self?

DS: This sounds really lame but I think I would tell my younger self to enjoy the process, which kind of goes back to trying to be more present now.

I wasn’t the most talented or gifted athlete to begin with, I really had to work my way up. I was just always focused on my goals and what I wanted to achieve. When I was younger I knew that I wanted to earn a scholarship to the States and become a professional athlete. I was so focused on that, I don’t think I was always enjoying the journey.

FF: Tell us about the Dom Squad. What is it and how did it begin?

DS: I feel so fortunate that I’ve had the opportunities that I’ve been given and I feel a responsibility to share with young girls that you can make your dreams come true.

I also want to show them that I’m not a superhero, I’m just a girl from Capetown who had a dream and worked hard and now I get to run for a living.

I had a dad approach me and ask me if I would coach his daughter, and I was hesitant at first because I feel pretty strongly that girls and boys should be part of their school teams. I don’t think it’s necessary to be taking them away from that to do private coaching. But the dad was telling me that there was no Cross Country or Track practice before you get to junior high, and these girls were having to play catch-up when they got to junior high.

So that’s where I decided to start what was called the Dom Squad. We had 15 girls and met once a week, it wasn’t anything too serious. I wanted them to want to do it and to be choosing it for themselves. I taught them the basics of running, correct form, how to do drills, all these little things that seem so basic but before you’ve seen it you don't know what it is!

With young girls and sport, there's a strong culture of if you’re not playing a girls sport, you stand out, it can be anxiety inducing. Having structure to be competitive at a young age really helps to build confidence in young girls for the future.

Speed Round Questions

FF: What are you watching on Netflix?

DS: Season 3 of Formula One.

FF: What is your favorite post run snack?

DS: Anything brunch related.

FF: Where is the first place you’d like to go when travel opens back up?

DS: I’d love to go back to Croatia!

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