My second week at a Muay Thai Training Camp in Khao Lak, Thailand

This post is the third of a series within my travel diary describing my 4 week stay at Rawai Muay Thai Camp in Khao Lak, Thailand.

TRAINING

Monday (No training) – During the rest day from heaven on the Sunday, I started developing some sniffles as the day progressed. Yes, I used the word sniffles. By Sunday evening, I was fully blown sneezing and by the time I had gone to bed I had used up all of my toilet paper blowing my nose (which left me with a bit of a dilemma in the morning but that’s another story).

When I woke up Monday, it was clear that I had a cold. It wasn’t a severe cold – there was no fever or anything – it was just a standard head cold but I made a tough decision that morning to take a second rest day.

There are two reasons why I say it was a tough decision. The first is because I had made a private resolution to myself to train every day I was here (apart from the scheduled rest day) and the second was that it meant I would have to work quite a bit harder for the remaining 5 days of the weeks as I didn’t intend to finish the week without beating my first weeks tally of 13 hours training!

That being said, I definitely felt comfortable with my decision. I could let my various aches and pains fully recover and also to allow the cold to get a little better so I could smash the remaining weeks training with renewed energy and vigour.

I seem to remember having caught a cold several times before when starting a new training regime – maybe when the body suddenly starts working a lot the immune system is in a bit of shock like “WHOOAA! What the heck is going on here?!? Hang on a minute!!” and is temporarily weakened trying to catch up. Just a theory.

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My makeshift lounge on sick day. I went through 2 boxes of those tissues. It’s fair to say it was a bad day.

Tuesday (Training day 9) – I woke up in the morning and unfortunately the cold was even worse which makes sense as I find that for me colds always tend to peak on day 3. I was in a Muay Thai camp though and therefore feeling a bit gung-ho so there was no way I was going to let a mere cold put me out of action for a second training day so I gave myself a slap and attended the private class I had booked with Lek for 11.00AM.

The private session was really helpful and the trainer made a lot of corrections to my boxing. A few examples – not swinging my arm when throwing a kick which provides more balance and power, not keeping my guard up, not returning smoothly to the natural stance after throwing a move, not putting enough hip into things, looking down at his waist or even feet instead of straight forward. As I said, it has been a while since I trained in Muay Thai! The class was great for sorting out these bad habits though.

He also told me that I was very stiff and needed to relax more. He is about the 3rd trainer who has told me something similar since I arrived so there is definitely some sort of issue there. I think I understood what he meant and tried to improve on it as the session went on.

As well as these corrections, Lek also taught me some good defensive and counter attack routines too that day. He also thinks I am from Chelsea despite me correcting him several times.

The technique in the group class that day was clinching. The group classes are great for fitness but I am learning so much in the private sessions I am going to try and do more.

I felt a bit dizzy a few times during the sessions due to the cold but made it through.

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At the beginning of each session, including the private sessions, we had to do about 10 minutes of skipping. For me, skipping has a very odd effect on time – it dramatically slows it down. 10 minutes felt like 30! When training like this, skipping for me is a bit like a vegetable – I hate it but know it is necessary

Wednesday (Training day 10) – My cold had done one so to make up for the slow start to the week, I attended both group sessions today which means 4 hours training. Technique for both sessions was mainly kicking.

I knew before I came to the camp, especially having not been in a training regime recently, that there was absolutely no way I was going to progress through the whole 4 weeks without experiencing physical problems and obstacles such as knock, sprains, bruises and pains. My biggest fear of all was getting more seriously injured and therefore being put out of action, not being able to complete the 4 weeks. Most minor injuries you can work around.

The first obstacle had been the cold and the second one was starting to develop – battered shins!

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It really was becoming a bit too painful to kick and block so I decided to start wearing the shin pads for a couple of days during pad and bag work until the bruises healed. You are only really supposed to wear the shin pads during sparring so I don’t think the trainers had much sympathy to be honest – for example, one trainer shouted “NO PAIN, NO MUAY THAI” when I explained why I had the shin pads on. He was laughing when he said it though. I think that instead of training around pain or injuries the Thai philosophy is to train through it.

Thursday (Training day 11) – I woke up that day feeling battered, probably the worst I have felt the whole time I have been here. I literally felt like I had done ten rounds with Mike Tyson.

All of my body was aching and I was surprised and also a little annoyed that I was still feeling the same muscle soreness every day after 11 days of training. I guess I am not as young as I used to be and also following a very intense regime coming from doing……well coming from doing no regime.  Also, I had done double sessions the day before so 4 hours of training and it was a tough double.

For a brief moment, the lazy devil on my shoulder was trying to tempt me into taking a second rest day but then I gave myself another slap, this time with the back of the hand, reminded myself of why I had came here, and hobbled to the afternoon session. This was a tough session. I was really starting to feel it.

I was willing to push my body to it’s absolute limits and past them but I had recently heard about a syndrome called overtraining where if you train for more then 10 – 12 hours a week you can actually do harm to your body (and even your mind!) rather than improve it especially if you start doing that without building up to it gradually which is what I was doing. I had no idea if I was at risk as I knew very little about the condition – just something I picked up online when researching Muay Thai camps recently and what I read on Wikipedia. The online consensus is hugely varied. Some people say it is a myth or extremely rare, however, there are a lot of bloggers who claim to have experienced overtraining syndrome during their stay in a Muay Thai Camp. On the other hand, one Muay Thai website said the best cure for overtraining was to “stop being a pansy” which helped egg me on a bit.

I am a firm believer in listening to the body. Mine was definitely starting to get pretty p*ssed off with me at the moment but it wasn’t quite screaming at me yet. If it does that, I may have to rethink my strategy. For now, I am going to keep pushing, gradually testing it’s limits and just hope it doesn’t break

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Young children would run around and play in the gym while we trained, sometimes copying the Thai fighters moves. It was very much a family based gym in a rural Thai residential area away from the tourist crowds which was interesting as I got to see a little bit how Thai people lived (from the outside anyway).

Friday (Training day 12) – Yesterday, I said that if my body started screaming at me I might slow it down a bit as I am a believer in listening to the body. Today, my body was indeed screaming at me but that got me thinking. Maybe it was time I should stop listening to my body. I mean sometimes my body will clearly tell me it wants a few gallons of beer or a double chocolate doughnut. Does the philosophy of listening to the body make much sense then?

Maybe that is why I was not that fit these days. Because I had been listening to my body too much and also succumbing to laziness due to being very stressed and tired from work. I decided a better approach would be for my brain to take the reins and be in charge instead, instructing my body what to do so I dragged my protesting body to training.

Technique that day was sparring but not proper sparring really, just easy back and forth stuff. You have to sign up for the fight training to get involved in real sparring.

Saturday (Training day 13) – I actually felt quite good and fresh when I woke up this morning. Maybe my body was finally adapting or as I had only done singles for two days in a row it had recovered a little. Which is insane because if I did two hours training a day at home on consecutive days, that would feel like a lot. The bar really was being set to a much higher level here. Intense training for two hours a day and I felt like I had taken it easy?!?

The beach training that morning was just as brutal as it was last week, running in the soft sand. The only difference is that I didn’t dry heave or feel like vomiting once during the whole session. I am counting that as massive progress.

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After beach training, the cool down was a 20 minute swim. It really made it all worth while. I cannot put in words how heavenly that swim is after a two hour gruelling session on the beach in the Thailand heat.

LIFE ON THE CAMP

After my sick day on the Monday, I did start to find a tiny bit of boredom seeping in between the sessions i.e from 9.30AM to 4.00PM, especially if I only did a single session, so I had to make efforts to keep myself busy and entertained. Don’t get me wrong, I was still happy and absolutely loving the training but there was a lot of in-between time I had to figure out how to fill up too.

It is true that we were in a beautiful area with stunning beaches but beauty can only entertain for so long and I am not really the type for lying around on beaches or by a pool for hours on end but there was not really much else to do unless you spent lots of money on expensive tours such as snorkelling or boat trips. I didn’t feel inclined to do that as I was spending enough money on the training.

I managed to adapt though and got myself into a decent routine which filled up the day. Each day, I would also pick a spot on a map and go and explore that area, take some nice walks, go on some scooter rides etc. I also tried to socialise a little more then I had been by the pool and in the café. A large group of Swedish people had turned up this week which made the camp very busy. I read a lot too.

The evenings were fine as after dinner , I loved just relaxing in my makeshift lounge binging on Netflix with a cuppa – feeling very relaxed, tired and satisfied after the hard days training. I would always go to bed early too.

I had another massage with the onsite masseuse even though I was slowly becoming convinced that she was a sadist. She would find a knot or tender spot and when I winced or she could tell I was in pain would attack it with renewed vigour and would never stop or go easy even when I clearly expressed my pain. Rolling out knots with her elbows, standing or kneeling on my back and twisting me as if I were putty that could be moulded back into shape. Despite this, the massage always did the job. On the Wednesday, when my muscles were really sore I had the massage and afterwards pretty much all the aches and pains were  gone. It was like a miracle!

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The accommodation I was staying in was pretty decent. I even had a mini-kitchen – sink, fridge, kettle, toaster, microwave etc. I had to be very careful with my food though as if you left anything out or unsealed an army of ants would invade from outside.

I did have one really big regret during the week. On the Friday night, there was a fight night happening where one of the trainers was fighting and another local who trained at the gym plus a bunch of other fights. I spoke to a couple of people who were going and thought about it myself but then someone told me that on the last fight night they hadn’t got back to camp until about 3.30AM plus it was £25 to attend and I am on a bit of a budget and all. I was shattered and definitely wanted to make it to the beach training the next morning at 7.30AM so I gave it a miss not really giving it too much thought. At the beach training on the Saturday morning, everyone was talking about how good the fights had been and what a great night it had been. When I got back to the office, I asked when the next fight night in Khao Lak is. Her answer? 16 April. Two days after I am leaving here. I was feeling gutted by this point like I had missed out and definitely regretted not going as I think it would have been a great experience, especially going down there together with all of the camp. The £25 saving was zero consolation. On the bright side, I was told that the trainer in our camp won the fight.

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I continued to eat at the restaurant called “Happy Times”. Anyone who has been to Thailand might have their suspicions about the name “Happy Times” but I can assure you it was just a legitimate local Thai restaurant right next to the camp. I had eaten here so much that it had even got the point where I would have felt a bit disloyal if I ate at the other restaurant called Tik’s or something down the road.

So that was this week. If I am honest, I am a little disappointed as I only matched last week hours but I was hampered slightly by the cold, shin problems and sheer exhaustion. That being said, due to the sick day on Monday, I matched last weeks tally in only 5 days rather then 6. I am going to count that as a progression! I also tried to put things into a little bit of perspective by remembering that 13 hours training is more exercise then I would do in a whole month back home, if that. Oh and I forgot to mention that I have already lost 6 pounds in just 2 weeks.

This is turning out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done from a physical perspective. I am beaten, bruised, sore all over and exhausted. In fact I would say I am almost broken but hopefully this rest day will piece me back together a bit as I plan to go full frontal next week. One of my goals will be to do double sessions on two consecutive days.  My other goal is to smash the 13 hour tally’s I achieved in week one and two – I am going to aim for 18 or more hours.

After all, it’s going to be week 3. Time to get serious.

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Oops nearly forgot to put a selfie in there! A few weeks back in Khao San Road someone asked me what the hardest thing about Solo Travel was. I didn’t say higher costs, loneliness, the personal burden of organising and deciding everything yourself, the safety aspect – my answer was having nobody to take a bl**dy photo of me and having to take all of my own selfies! This is especially relevant at this camp. I really need to corner someone and get them to take a few pictures of me training before I leave!

Next post: My third week in a Muay Thai Camp.

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