Little bit of everything for Alex Morgan
Is there anything Alex Morgan does that isn't extraordinary? Finish college a semester early at Cal with a degree in political economy? Check. Write a New York Times best-seller? Yep. Model for ESPN and Sports Illustrated? Done and done. Score 28 goals with 21 assists -- numbers right out of the Mia Hamm playbook -- in 2012? Oh yeah, that.
The U.S. national team star and a Portland Thorns FC striker from Diamond Bar, Calif., is far from finished, though.
"I'm young enough to keep going through at least one more Olympic cycle," the 24-year-old said. "I'm up for the challenge of continuing to prove myself on the national team so I can keep the spot I have."
As she gears up for Sunday's game against Australia in San Antonio, the World Cup in 2015 in Canada and the Rio Olympics in 2016, here are some of Morgan's secrets to keeping all her (soccer) balls in the air:
Mixing it up
I love going to spin classes and doing yoga, but I don't like to get too comfortable with any one activity. I like to mix up my cross-training so I'm prepared for the variety of workouts I'll have with the national team. I'm heading to camp to start preparing for the World Cup shortly.
Soccer: A solo sport?
Even when I'm training alone, I always prefer doing soccer-related stuff. On my own, I'll run through cones or do some shooting exercises or pass the ball against the wall. I've put some of my favorite drills into an app called Fivestar, which I could've used when I was younger. When I was growing up, it was really hard to motivate and train alone. I could talk my dad into being a goalkeeper sometimes, but I was by myself a lot; I definitely could've used an extra push from the app when I was younger.
Eye on the ball
I sprained my MCL at the end of the National Women's Soccer League season, and it took me about six weeks to get back to 100 percent. It's amazing how fast you lose muscle and range of motion when you don't use it. Plus, soccer is one of those sports you have to train day in and out to keep improving. When I returned to the field, I could tell that my touch wasn't as crisp and my dribbling as quick as they were before I was injured.
A magic window
I'm all about getting some protein and carbs into my body 20 to 30 minutes after a tough workout or game to get important nutrients to my muscles. I usually grab a turkey sandwich or some chicken, or a protein shake. When I'm not eating a recovery meal, I love Thai, Indian, sushi and Mexican, and I definitely have a sweet tooth. I definitely don't feel guilty when I eat a cookie or cupcake, especially after a hard day.
Pinch her: She's at the Olympics!
London was just amazing. Being surrounded by hundreds of other world-class athletes was really motivating because every single athlete there knew all the hard work it took to get to that level. It was also such an honor to represent the United States -- and support the other American athletes there too.
Focus and belief
In the 123rd minute of the semifinal game at the Olympics against Canada, I scored the game-winning goal that brought us to the finals. You can't replicate those do-or-die moments in practice or a friendly game. I never had an inch of doubt, though, that a U.S. goal was going to happen in the minute we needed it to. Our team has such a deep, shared belief in each other; combine that with a little bit of patience and pressure, and I never looked back.
Getting her kicks …
I've written a series called "The Kicks," three books for middle schoolers about soccer. The second book was just released, and the third is coming out in March. I am really happy with the end result, but I'd choose soccer practice over anything -- writing a book, attending a photo shoot -- because everything on the field is instinctual. I just love the game of soccer.
… And a little beach time
I recently returned from the marriage of Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman in Kauai, Hawaii. It was gorgeous, and I'm so happy for them. We went to a luau, hiked quite a bit and just enjoyed the beach.