This is the fourth post in a series on my travel diary describing my four-week stay in Rawai Muay Thai Training Camp in Khao Lak, Thailand.
Last week, I said that I fully expected to face physical challenges on my way through this 4 week training course.
My first obstacle had been a cold which put me out of training for a day, my second was battered shins which didn’t put me out of training but made me get a bit of stick from the trainers for wearing shin pads. NO PAIN, NO MUAY THAI!
My third and by far the worst obstacle so far was a large, nasty graze on my right shin.
It happened in a rocky beach car park at the bottom of some steps. My sandals are a little too big for me and stick out at the end. As I tripped on this excess piece of sandal, I fell onto a sharp, rocky ledge sliding a little and leaving a couple of bruises and quite a deep, large graze on my right shin which took the full brunt of the impact.
Cursing myself for my carelessness, I rode my scooter to the nearest pharmacy and got it all patched up but it hurt and stung like crazy and there was no way I would be able to kick on it. It hurt just cleaning it with water.
I definitely went on a bit of a pity party about this for a few hours on the Sunday. Firstly due to the pain but primarily because I knew it would have an impact on my training. The “art of 8 limbs” had just become the “art of 7 limbs”.
Finally, I emerged from my slump by working out a plan for the week. I would simply have to work around the wound – no right kicks on the pad work or bag work. During the technique part of the class where you usually pair up with someone, I would have to step out of it if there was any risk of right shin contact and do something else.
There is this song some bloke wrote from the Monty Python comedy group about always looking on the bright side of life. I tried to do that for this situation and eventually I found it – relatively speaking, if my right kick is a shark then my left leg is a limp-wet-fish so maybe this was a golden opportunity to help my left catch up with my right
Monday (Training day 14) – At the start of the new week, I managed to attend both sessions avoiding right roundhouse kicks. Technique was clinching – set routines in the morning and free-style in the afternoon. No problems with shin contact so I could participate. I was starting to cheer up a little.
Another reason I was cheering up is that this is the first day I realised how far I have come in terms of my fitness. I seemed to have turned a corner very quickly in my progression. The first time I did a double, I nearly died or at least passed out but this time I was nowhere near as exhausted by the end of the day. Also I remember on the first day I came here I did the same freestyle clinching with someone and actually had to step out of it a few times, leaning against the ropes as I couldn’t breath. I managed both rounds with relative ease today.
Tuesday (Training day 15) – I woke up in the morning with NO MUSCLE SORENESS. Just a few days earlier when I did my last double sessions on the Wednesday, I woke up the next day with soreness all over. I described it as if I had done ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Today I felt like I had only done three rounds with Mike Tyson. My body was adapting rapidly.
The lesson from this – if you were to come to one of these camps best to ensure that your body is already fairly well conditioned unless you want to suffer with 15 days of muscle soreness like I did!
I attended another private session with Lek today. As I couldn’t do a right roundhouse (only right knees) we focused a lot on elbow and knee work and my left leg and knees got a great workout. I finally corrected him on my residency and he no longer thinks I am from Chelsea.
I was starting to appreciate clearly the advantage of my right kick being out of action. My limp-fish left leg was getting a very good working. Unfortunately it was also getting a very good bruising too!
Right, where are those shin pads?
Wednesday (Training day 16) – I attended another double session today. So far in just 16 days of training this brought my total tally up to 39 hours training. That figure was staggering to me. By the time I leave here after 4 weeks, assuming I do a full week of 4 hour doubles in the last week, it should be at least 70 hours. There are possibly some whole years where I have done less exercise.
The session involved sparring but my partner accommodated towards my right shin problem and we decided to just do boxing sparring with no kicks. The sparring today was a bit more intense than it usually is. The rounds were longer and he said we could go a bit stronger. Despite the amount of training you do nothing really prepares you for sparring. Actually, let me re-phrase that – no amount of training you can do really prepares you for sparring except lots of sparring. It really is the hardest workout in the gym you can do in boxing. Pad and Bag work is gruelling but it doesn’t even come close to sparring. I had been finding the sessions much easier to cope with but was goosed by the end of this sparring. It was good fun though but such a weird feeling getting punched in the face when you are not used to it.
Thursday (Training day 17) – Rawai Muay Thai is quite a traditional gym and the technique for today was Wai Kru which is a ritual that they do in Muay Thai before the fights. It was interesting to learn about and I was starting to remember all the moves.
After 4 training days of only using my limp-fish left leg it was becoming stronger. Not quite a “shark” yet like my right leg but it was catching up. On the first day, my left kick probably wouldn’t have hurt a pussy cat. Now I reckon it has got a bit of firepower behind it.
The graze has started to heal but I still feel sharp jabs of pain at the slightest contact. I am desperately hoping it is all healed up by Monday as I want all my eight limbs available so I can go out on the last week with a bang and attend as many sessions as possible.
Please graze. Please heal. Heal faster. I was actually talking directly to the wound sometimes begging it to heal more quickly (Did I just admit that out loud?)
Friday (Training day 18) – I was feeling very tired this morning and there was a general weakness in my body. No muscle soreness – I was past all that but just a general fatigue. It was more of a mental tiredness if anything.
Nonetheless, I was determined to meet my 18 hour target so I attended a double session and did 4 hours training. I had become quite familiar with a lot of the trainers and was starting to think about attending quite a lot of private lessons next week, maybe 3 or 4 – that way I would continue to improve my fitness in the group classes and learn a tonne of stuff too. Even though the privates are only one hour it is not like they are easier or anything – in fact I would say that one hour of constant gruelling pad work with a short break in the middle is possibly even harder than the 2 hour group classes or at least equivalent.
I was trying to decide which trainers I would pick. Definitely another one with Lek as I had 3 with him already so he knew where I was at. The fighter who probably has the most experience and knowledge in the gym is Lemsing who has recently had his 506th fight so I wanted one with him. Pra Du is apparently the hardest one to have a private with as most people say he absolutely hammers you so I wanted one with him. And maybe one with Daam who I had my first private with. He was very focused on combos.
This would rack up the costs a little (it was £7.50 for a group class and £17.50 for a private) but I hadn’t been drinking for a month so I could justify it that I was using my booze budget on this instead!! A far more healthy use for my money anyway.
Saturday (Training day 19) – BEACH TRAINING! I was starting to really enjoy the beach training. The first week it literally nearly killed me. The second week it just broke me. This week it felt almost easy – well not easy but manageable. Sure it was still tough, especially the 20 minute beach run that the training begins with, but it was so great to train outside of the stuffy gym for a couple of hours then dive in the sea afterwards. It was always more social too then the gym, more banter.
Quite a few new people had turned up on the camp – one thing I noted was how many Swedish people were here. I am not sure if Muay Thai is some sort of huge thing in Sweden or if it was just coincidental. At a guess, I reckon there are probably about 40 odd people on the camp. Out of these, I would say 50 – 60% of them were Swedish. And they were not all in the same group, lots of different groups and individuals, couples etc. Maybe 20% were German and the rest were from other nationalities, maybe only 5 or 6 from the UK. Oh and there were two Americans as well.
The morning beach session brought my tally up to 17 hours. I was so exhausted but I had set myself a target of 18 hours for the week so I attended the 2 hour session in the afternoon as well. I was literally running on empty by this point but I am glad I went as that took my tally to 19 hours for the week so I had met my goal. My total tally so far after 18 days of training is now 49 hours of training.
The day of rest had arrived and every part of my body and soul needed it. I wasn’t sore but I felt a deep physical and mental tiredness inside me.
LIFE ON THE CAMP
On the Thursday, a new lady arrived. She was supposed to be here for 3 weeks but on the very day she arrived she had a scooter accident and hurt her leg. I hadn’t met her yet before it happened but I felt sorry for her. I was lucky my wound hadn’t put me out of action. It must be devastating to travel here looking forward to 3 weeks of training only to be put of action on day 1. From what I heard it wasn’t her fault either, not sure on the full details but I think a car gave her a little bump which made her fall off the bike. The camp’s policy here is that you have to pay for everything up front but fortunately they were understanding and gave her a full refund.
Prompted by this, the head trainer at the camp gave us a talk on the Friday about how to be careful on the Thai roads on a scooter. Tragically, he said that one foreigner who was staying at the camp some years ago had died in a scooter accident. He also said something about another foreigner hitting a child with his scooter in a nearby town. Thankfully, the child was not killed but was injured. I won’t go into too much detail about what he said next but it was something about Thai Mafia, a late night trip to some isolated woods, followed by a prolonged stay in a local hospital for the aforementioned foreigner……………I am not sure if this alarming story was true or just a tactic to scare us into driving more carefully. Nonetheless, I drove my scooter to the shops and beach that day with renewed caution. So if it was a scare story………..it worked.
I had started to go on quite a lot of scooter trips between training, exploring different areas every day.
The Germans that I had been eating with had left but there was some new guys I chatted to quite a bit – some from Sweden and a couple from the UK. I met a sound guy who was British but now living in Oman working as an engineer and I ended up pairing up with him for quite a few of the techniques. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a knee injury so I haven’t seen him the past few days.
People had left and new people had arrived but it was sometimes hard to socialise with people at dinner who were drinking as they would head off to the bars and I would sulk back to my room. It was definitely a challenge sometimes staying off the booze as the solo traveller side of me still longed for a fun night out socialising, having a good laugh and meeting more people but my resolve was solid.
In any case, apart from having fun another reason I wanted to travel is because I knew that sedentary office work was ruining my health. I could feel it inside. I didn’t really feel well before I came travelling,
That’s not to say that all people who work in office’s are unhealthy. Far from it. Many people will counter that sedentary work with a good diet and daily exercise regime but the work stress and work fatigue had gotten the better of me recently and instilled bad habits – releasing the stress through comfort food and weekend booze and not exercising after work due to fatigue. The office biscuits and birthday cakes didn’t help much either.
Sure, I would do a few hours exercise a week, walk the dog, go for a surf but I mean if I am being truly honest there are days where I would be sitting down pretty much all day – wake up, sit on office desk all day, go home for lunch and sit down, finish work and slump on the couch, have dinner, watch TV, sleep, repeat. I wasn’t always like that but had my lazy phases – I would then try and get into an exercise regime again but it was always inconsistent.
That is a terrible lifestyle and this camp has made me see that a little more clearly now. I really hope I don’t go back into my old habits and if I do return to an office job I do not intend to return to that type of unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Hopefully, this is what I can take away from this camp and it has already reversed some of the damage so I can move forward from there.
Anyway, I went off on one a bit there! To conclude, I am very pleased with this week. I managed to achieve 19 hours and beat my target of 18 hours and also did two consecutive double sessions in a row which was another goal. This was 6 hours more training then my 13 hour tally’s in weeks 1 and 2.
It is my last week next week so I intend to go out with a bang – a whole week of two sessions a day. Let’s see.
Next post: My fourth and last week in a Muay Thai Camp and my thoughts on the experience.