Leading IronWoman Jordan Mercer Reveals Her Gruelling Training Program

Leading IronWoman Jordan Mercer Reveals Her Gruelling Training Program

At 22 years of age, Jordan has already landed a fourth title at the ISA World Paddleboard and StandUp Paddleboard Championships in Brazil, along with four world titles at the Molokai 2 Oahu 55km paddleboard championships, and is gearing up to defend this for the fifth time in August this year. In short, she’s incredibly fit, and is also a surf IronWoman – placing 3rd overall at the most recent Nutrigrain series. We had a chat with the athlete about her training regime, diet, and personal mantra.

What made you want to compete in your very first big race?

Looking back, it wasn’t a very important or a big race, but I can tell you that at the time my year one cross-country was probably the most important thing in my life to date. At that very moment, I remember I was so nervous, for no reason other than being ridiculously competitive and wanting to win. I really wanted to win. I think it was maybe my first real chance to race. I’d done gymnastics before that and it wasn’t really a ‘go with the gun’ or ‘be the first to the line’ kind of sport so maybe this was my first chance to do that, to have that feeling. I thought I was pretty fast and I wanted to prove it to everybody. Yes, in my year one cross-country the nerves were high, and I ended up taking it out.

Did you get given any good advice as you were training for your first big race? What was it? 

Growing up I’ve been given a lot of advice and a lot of people with great experience in sport have said some pretty special things to me, but the most import piece of advice I was given was to go out there and have fun. I used to laugh it off because I found it very hard to do that with the amount of pressure that I put on myself, and how nervous I got before any event or any race or any run I did. But in the last couple of years I’ve learnt how important it is for me to enjoy myself and have fun out there. My best results have come from when I’m relaxed, when I’m out there and happy to be where I am – and so it is, I think, the most important advice I’ve been given in life and of course racing.

What’s your favourite part about competing?

I actually like the fact that I get to perform when I’m competing. There are big crowds watching what I do. At the professional Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series, I do feel like I’m on a stage and I really love that. So, apart from winning, performing is probably what I love.

How often do you train, and what does your training schedule look like?

Something that I think keeps me motivated year round is knowing that I’m transitioning from a sprint season, into endurance, into paddle boarding, into Surf Ironwoman, so it’s always changing, but I guess the disciplines remain the same.

So generally, throughout the season I’m swim training for two hours in the morning – that’s 5.30am in the pool. And then I’ll head off from there – have a little snack and into the gym where I work out for about an hour.

I like to do a lot of body weight exercises, lots of balance and strength exercises, and obviously getting the heart rate up with cardio in the gym. Sometimes, I’ve got a trainer throughout the week, other times I might be doing my own stuff in the gym. I also love to do a bit of pad boxing when I get the chance.

Midday I like to have a nap, or a surf. That, for me, is refreshing and a little bit of personal time. After a nice lunch I’ll be ready for the afternoon sessions where I’ll be running, or alternating from run to gym. When I’m running I’m either at the National Park in Noosa or I like sand running. Track running’s always good too. Sometimes it’s nice to go for a flat road run. My runs go from maybe four to 10km.

For my final session for the day I’m in the ocean. I’m paddling my board or on my ski, or putting all the disciplines together and doing an IronWoman session with a run, swim, ski, board, all in the surf.  That usually goes for an hour or so and it’s my favourite session of the day.

I train Monday to Friday, doing three to four sessions a day. Saturday is my big session, where, depending on what time of season it is, I’m either doing very longboard paddle sessions anyway from four to six hours, or it could be an Ironwoman session, which is over and done within an hour and 15 minutes and is extremely high-intensity – a real vomitron of a session, and the lactic usually lingers for a day or so.

Sunday is ‘Sunday fun-day’ for me. I like to do a light session but usually it’s just family time, spending time with friends and generally being at the beach. I’m not quite over the beach yet so through the week I still like to go down, relax, kick the ball, and go surfing.

jordanmercer 2

How do you get yourself motivated to train, even when it’s raining, you’re having a bad day or can’t be bothered?

It’s hard, and I’d be lying if I said it gets easier, but I just think I’ve found ways to deal with it and worked out what works best for me.

It all comes back to having a good attitude, being positive and just taking a step back and realising how very blessed I am, to wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to do what I love, with the support of the people who mean so much to me. So I just try and remind myself of that and all these little problems and worries and mountains that seem so very high just fade away a little bit, and everything seems that little bit easier. I know how blessed I am.

To get motivated it’s a matter of quickly looking into the future and seeing what I’ve got to look forward to, realising why I’m doing all of the hard-work and knowing that I’ve set myself a reward at the end of it; and if I’m willing to commit and keep the motivation and the determination and put the time in to do what I need to do, that’s often enough motivation for me.

Motivation can come from a lot of different places, it’s a matter of breaking things down, not getting too far ahead of yourself, just putting yourself in the moment. Everything seems a little bit easier when you’re relaxed, you breathe easy and just take one step at a time.

And you know what, sometimes if I’m feeling too tired, or am just having one of ‘those days’, I just think ‘pull yourself together Jordie, have a Red Bull and just get out there and get the job done.’

Do you have to watch what you eat, or do you feel that you burn it all off during training anyway?

When I was younger I used to burn it all off. I’ve always had a big appetite and maybe that’s because I’m exerting myself so often and so regularly throughout every day. But unfortunately it doesn’t work that way anymore and I can’t burn off all the goods that I enjoy having.

More than anything I enjoy fresh and healthy food. I always go to that before junk food. That’s not to say that I don’t have that sweet-tooth craving, I just know that food is my fuel and as an athlete I get such a huge advantage with fuelling my body with the right food, the food I need at the right time of the day. And also replenishing my body between sessions so that I can recover, back up and be ready and fresh to go for the next session.

I don’t believe in restricting myself and going on any crazy strict diets. Food is something that I love to enjoy with family and friends; I enjoy trying new foods and sharing food with people. Overall, good food makes you feel great, so I just make sure I eat lots of good food.

Do you have any secret indulgences?

I go through phases. I never used to like chocolate, but around the Easter season, all of a sudden I was a super chocolate fan and I loved it – but now not so much, thank God. I daydream about ice cream – lots of different flavored ice cream. I love it.

What’s your personal mantra?

I love looking at affirmations and I’m always looking at new ones. I like writing down special quotes and making up my own for a little bit of motivation.

I don’t necessarily have a personal mantra but I always remember to be thankful and have appreciation for all I am and have. I also believe in making things happen. If you want something, just make it happen – you have the power to make things happen.

So I guess my mantra would be.. Every day, remember to be thankful, appreciative and if there’s anything you want, go get it, make it happen.


Written by Iantha Yu

Iantha Yu is a journalist that specializes in writing and styling beauty, health and lifestyle content. She joins The Carousel as Beauty Editor after previously working at SHOP Til You Drop and Women’s Health magazine, and prior to that, edited her own beauty website.

She firmly believes that good skincare, a bright lippie, or good quality false eyelashes can change your life (or at least your mood for the day).

Australia Has The Highest Suicide Rate In The World. Here's The Grass Roots Problem...

Australia Has The Highest Suicide Rate In The World. Here’s The Grass Roots Problem…

Chocolate & Guinness Date Cake with White Chocolate & Lemon Topping

Chocolate & Guinness Date Cake with White Chocolate & Lemon Topping