It was an unexpected change when looking at past hobbies, but it’s one he naturally ran into. Science in Sport ambassador, Bernardo “Bernie” Perez, moved from Peru to Miami in 1993 and was ready to continue swinging his racket at tennis and racquetball courts in The Sunshine State. However, he soon found himself inside a boxing ring, looking for a different type of adrenaline rush. Bernie’s plyometrics and hooks were strong, but he couldn’t escape the all-too-common black eye.
Knowing the bruises had to stop, he started looking for another challenge. His coach noticed Perez was a natural runner and encouraged him to continuously extend the distance. After settling into his stride and successfully knocking out numerous half and full marathons, Bernie transitioned into triathlon less than 8 years ago. And he hasn’t stopped.
When he started, there weren’t many triathlon teams or groups in his area, so he adapted to the sport on his own. It was unfamiliar territory, but the transition and sport itself taught Bernie valuable lessons, which he actively shares with others who are trying to learn the sport.
Do Your Research
Starting a new sport on your own can be unpredictable, but taking the time to investigate and answer your own questions is empowering. For Bernie, his biggest challenge was swimming. Not only was it his weakest discipline, but transitioning to open water swimming in Florida where sharks are common was not easy.
To help him overcome this fear, he did research about the Blacktip shark and ways he could improve his stroke. He learned the sharks tend to have a timid disposition, making him feel more comfortable getting in the water. As Perez became more confident in the water, he was able to focus on his stroke, style, angles, and looking ahead, ultimately translating to faster swim times. He also wants to remind athletes be safe and never swim alone.
Get Organized To Maintain Stress
As a single father of two boys, it can be tricky to balance training, work, and parenting. By doing research and maintaining a schedule, Bernie was able to manage his stress and be prepared. The day before any race, he scopes out the course, completes the required check-ins, and prepares what he’ll need the next day.
When he arrives for check-in, Bernie starts his routine. To ensure he can spot his bike quickly, he puts a pink headband at the end of the bike rack to help him locate his two-wheels. Perez also makes himself a bottle of Go Electrolyte and carries it around with him to carb up and hydrate before the race. For each transition, he lays out a combination of Salted Strawberry and Tutti Frutti gels for extra energy. With the discipline triathlon requires, he’s learned what he needs and when he needs it.
Ask Yourself “What Else?”
While Bernie has become familiar with the sport, he constantly looks for the next challenge. Some days, he works on his transition time. Other days, he does an alternative workout, like rollerblading, to engage different muscles with minimal impact. For him, it’s about keeping his body healthy and becoming mentally tough.
This year has presented its own challenges with one race cancelled after the other, but he remains positive. Bernie hasn’t stopped training, ensuring he’s ready whenever races get the green light.
Since transitioning to triathlon, Perez has qualified for Team USA the last 5 years and been able to travel and race in places all over the world. Bernie calls Miami home, but is always sharing his experience and what he’s learned to the triathlon community and works to bring the sport to his native country, Peru.