Ever wanted to step into somebody else’s shoes for the day and see what life is like as a magazine editor, a professional sportsperson or corporate high-flyer..? Well, SHESAID is giving you the closest thing to your very own Freaky Friday experience with our A Day In The Life Of… series.
Name and role
Jordan Mercer, Surf IronWoman
Tell us a bit about what you do?
I am a professional surf athlete. My discipline changes dependent on the time of the year, but basically it’s broken into the sprint season where I compete in the Kellog Nutri-Grain Ironwoman series, before transitioning into the long-distance paddleboard season. My paddleboard specialty is the prone paddleboarding event, which means either lying down on my stomach or on my knees, paddling the ocean.
The sport gene runs through your veins. At a just 13 years old you were asked by the AIS to be a part of their training squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. What made your turn your back on gymnastics and head to the water?
Lifestyle was probably a big one – I think deep down I knew that I did love the ocean and that coastal lifestyle. With gymnastics I had to move to Canberra to be at the AIS training for the upcoming Olympic Games – I wouldn’t be able to be at the beach. The big decision was knowing that I had a growing passion for being in the ocean – racing there and the fact that I had such a good group of girl friends. The environment and that team spirit that was created when I did surf sports was something that drew me towards a change of career path at such a young age.
Your workdays are much more exciting than the average 9 to 5. When you’re in season, what does a typical day involve?
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 long board paddle sessions anywhere from four to six hours, or it could be an Ironwoman session, which is over and done with in 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.
6am: Generally, throughout the season I’m swim training for two hours in the morning.
10am: 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.
12pm: 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.
3pm: 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 just like challenging myself, trying new things, being in the ocean, playing guitar, I love listening to music, creating things and spending time with loved ones and family!
When did you discover your talent? Did you always want to be an athlete?
From a young age I was always determined to be the best. Not just at sport but anything I tried, I always strived to do things perfectly. I did a lot of sports through my early years running and gymnastics being my focus. From the age of six until I was thirteen I dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast. That dream came very close to fruition when I was offered a position at the Australian Institute of Sport in the gymnastics team to train for the upcoming games. My dreams and future vision have changed through the years but sport has always remained a very important part of who I am and what I wanted to do. But one of the big moments where I thought I can do this, I can be a professional athlete was when I was 16 and in year 11 at school, when I was just old enough to trial for the professional IronWoman Series. I remember being on the beach ready to race, the surf was huge and the weather pretty wild. I hadn’t been paddling a ski for much longer than three months and my swimming wasn’t very strong. It was going to be tough, to say the least. But I knew there wasn’t one thing that would stop me from giving this trial the fight of my life. I had never wanted something so badly in my life, with every ounce of my being I wanted to become a professional IronWoman and it was going to happen that weekend! I knew I deserved it and I believed I could do it!
Where do you find your inspiration? Who has had the most impact on you and your career?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few people. Children with special needs and disabilities, which I have had the chance to work with through some amazing charities. Noosa Seahorse Nippers is for children with disabilities and special needs allowing them to enjoy junior surf life saving activities. Also, Surfers Healing and Paddle4Autism both program’s which allow Autistic children to surf and enjoy the ocean with watermen and women! Jamie Mitchell one of the best watermen in the world, 10x Molokai2Oahu World Paddle Board Champion and big wave surfer is a special mentor of mine, and a great friend. Mikey Mendoza, skating sensation and fellow Red Bull teammate is someone who makes the most out of every opportunity in life and has a contagiously powerful and positive attitude and my Aunty Jenny, for personal reasons.
What are your goals for the future?
To do what it takes to be proud of the person I am and never stop learning. I know by doing this I will be inspiring people to follow their dreams and supporting those less fortunate. To live a life of giving and learning surrounded by my loved ones, is my ultimate goal.
What advice would you give to someone following the same path as you?
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. So the best piece of advice I could pass on from my experience is hard work will beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard, and there is no easy road to any place worth going.
Images via © Red Bull Media House
Isabelle is a writer who has a hundred-and-one side-splittingly funny stories about growing up at an all-girls boarding school, with a chocolate habit that requires constant monitoring. Follow Isabelle on Twitter.