For a guy who earns his paycheck doing physical labor, Gio Gonzalez spends a lot of time sitting around waiting. The left-handed starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals works hard on game day to shake off the idleness that can overtake hurlers between starts by following a set and stringent program that prepares both his muscles and mind to lead the Nats when he's asked to take the mound.
Athletes may break into the bigs because of talent, but they stay there because of consistency. Designing a program – even one that is limited to game day – is the key to staying productive and healthy. Gonzalez has averaged more than 17 wins and 200 innings since 2010 – and, with a 7-3 record and a 3.03 earned run average through the first half of this season, he looks primed for another good year. This consistency, he says, is the result of his well-honed routine, which begins the moment he wakes up.
Sleep It Off
Recovery is the final part of Gio's elaborate process. To ensure that his arm recovers by the time he is scheduled to pitch again in four or five days, Gonzalez tries to sleep for as long as he possibly can before starting his routine again. "There will be times when you run your body so down on energy that you just need that extra rest, that extra couple hours more of sleep," he says. "I don't want to run my entire battery down to where I can't get up the next day and work out."
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