Should You Drink Water Before You Exercise? 

Some of you just went “DUH! Of Course you should.” Well on my second last Run Swim Run I didn’t. Here is the account I promised you in “Can Surf Life Saving Keep You healthy?”

Life Savers

Image by Garry – via Flickr

I had woken up late on Proficiency day at Southport Surf Life Saving Club. Once a year every volunteer Surf Life Saver must pass their Proficiency. A series of tests to prove you have the skills to save lives. They range from doing CPR to Board rescues in the Surf. But the very first thing is the Run Swim Run a 200 metre run followed by a 400 metre surf swim and finishing up with another 200 metre run.

As I said I slept in. I grabbed a Banana and a Cup of Coffee and headed for the club. In the rush I left my water bottle at home. I signed in and got myself down to the beach. The first run went by without a problem but by half way through the swim I knew I was in trouble. I was flagging badly. I managed to get out okay but my legs were dead and the second run seemed to take forever but I made it over the line. I knew the time wasn’t that fast but was it fast enough to pass the test?

This is about the time things started to really go wrong! I was puffing pretty badly when I crossed the line, but now I couldn’t seem to get my breath back! And the Sun was disappearing. it was getting dark! Pretty soon everything was black except what I could see straight in front of me. I had to get my butt on the ground before I fell over.

The good thing is there were over 100 Life Savers on the beach that day! The bad thing was there were over 100 Life Savers on the beach that day! But we are a club who looks after each other and I can live with a bit of embarrassment knowing so many people care about me.

They bought the Rhino down and picked me up. Gave me some oxygen therapy and took me up the first aid room. After about 30 minutes I was well enough to go back and find Gillian.

The next day I went to see my GP. Sally decided I needed a blood test for Kidney Function and a ECG. She did the ECG straight away and Picked up a “Non Specific Rhythm”.

“What’s a “Non Specific Rhythm” Sally?” I say

“Well it’s a rhythm that’s not Specific.”

“Not helping Sally” I think to myself. It seems I now have to see a heart specialist! Oh Goody. And By the way no exercise until you get the all clear.

So it’s off to see the nice heart Specialist that everyone tells me is fantastic to get my heart checked. I have ECG’s, Stress Tests and an Ultrasound. And they do find a very small defect in my mitral valve that I probably have had since birth. But no other problems except now we know about the defect that hasn’t given me any trouble for 47 years I must have check ups every six months! Net cost $1000!

Meanwhile the results from the Kidney test have come back. Kidney function is severely reduced! WTF! My heart and Kidneys a stuffed! Sally asks me to drink lots of water and have more tests. So they take more blood. And my Kidneys are a bit better. More Drinking and more tests. I have the Kidneys of a 45-year-old! Yeh.

On the Friday of the fourth week I finally get the all clear to start swimming and running again. A lot of people can go four weeks without swimming with very little effect on their swimming fitness.

I am a 110 Kg brick with arms.

I am not one of those people! I have only 9 days to get ready for Proficiency. If I don’t pass this one that’s it. I can’t be a Life Saver until next years tests. I go for an easy bike ride on the Saturday and on the Sunday I will do water safety for the nippers and go for a run in the evening.

7:20 Sunday morning. The phone rings. Gillians voice says ” The Proficiency isn’t next week it’s today!”

FARK! Guess what? I grab a Banana and a Coffee and my Water bottle. And Bolt out the door. I get down the club and sign in and get myself down the beach. There is a chance that the time I got last time is good enough to get me through. I hope against hope. I am freaking I haven’t been in the water since I fainted on the beach. The word comes back. I have to swim. FARK.

I am totally freaked out by now. I am on the line willing myself to get in the water. It’s a great day for the test. A one foot swell, no wind and a nice little sweep to push you down the course. It doesn’t matter! I can’t see any of it. All I see is me sitting on the beach with an oxygen mask on my face.

Off we go, again the Run goes well. But when I hit the water I lose it. I won’t settle down into freestyle. I’m doing breaststroke FFS! I’m a pussy. I am dead last behind a 60-year-old veteran. I’m out to the Can and the sweep takes me down the course around the second Can and I stagger into shore. Last. Buy a fair way. 13 minutes! Certainly a record for slowness. I’m out.

And it hits me. No more water safety with the under 10’s. No more Patrols helping people in a thousand ways on the Beach. Nothing. I am not even allowed to finish the rest of the tests. I start to pack up my gear to go home. I have just realised how much I love doing all this stuff and I have to leave.

Then Pete grabs me. “Just go and do the rest of the tests I will sort this out. I know you’re right to do this.” Everything else goes easily I’ve had enough practice over the years. Only one thing left. Pete has organised a testing Officer and a course and about 5 of us to do the swim. My confidence is back. I’ve already done the Swim today! Yes it was the shittiest Run Swim Run of all time, but I had done it. And I didn’t fall over, I didn’t have a dicky ticker and my Kidneys are fine.

4 minutes and 30 seconds later it’s all over.


And that is why you should always drink water before doing exercise. The aftermath could be embarrassing, expensive and you could lose something that you didn’t even know you needed in your life!

My name is Shane Sullivan and I am a Unit