To Rest or not to Rest: A Fighter’s Guilty Conscience
Rest and Recovery Tips for Muay Thai
I struggle with rest. I like routine. Regardless of how I feel, my fight camps read like a schedule. My training sessions and meals are planned out perfectly.
During fight camp, every moment of my life revolves around my fight. If I get an injury, that’s just too bad. If I am exhausted, oh well.
I struggle to understand you need to give your body and your mind time to recover – that recovery is just as important as training. I equate unscheduled rest with personal inadequacy. I think:
I’m not good enough.
I’m too weak.
My opponent, she’s not resting.
Why would I?
Because we are different people – different fighters. We have different bodies, and different means of training. Needing a break should not equal failure.
We train in a sport that is tremendously stressful on the body and the mind. During fight camps, we train two – three times a day, and six days a week. We go and go, pushing ourselves to train harder, go further, do more, and do better. We go the extra mile to do the extra push up or train an extra hour. And when we aren’t training, we are thinking about training and fighting – techniques, timing, fights, opponents.
At what point do you take a break? Should you?
Are you passing off injuries or exhaustion as signs of weakness instead of seeing the signs as what they are – that you really just need to heal?
I am notorious for the “I’m fine” response. My trainer recently said that he can always tell when I’m hiding something – he said it’s in my eyes. I’ll admit that I’m not fine, and he’ll say “THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING?”
We have to be honest and not let our worries or insecurities interfere with how we treat ourselves.
So, are we just supposed to skip training and go eat donuts and watch Netflix? No, I don’t think that’s the right idea here. I mean, don’t get me wrong, binge watching Netflix is clutch. But not when you’re training for a fight and need a recovery session.
If you need to skip a session because you’re mentally not in it- try doing something not Muay Thai related, but correlates in some way.
1) Try out a dance class.
Salsa is great for footwork, and Ballet is an excellent way to improve balance.
2) Give yoga a go.
It’ll help you train your breath for those exhilarating moments in a fight when the action is nonstop.
3) Hop on a bike.
Get outside in the sunshine and inhale some fresh air or head to a spin class to really give your cardio a boost.
4) Or, if none of those options fit your style… Play!
Join a game of soccer or basketball. Again, awesome for footwork. Have a swim, get in a pool or if you’re near the beach, do some laps in the ocean. Surf.
We love this sport with 100% of our souls, but sometimes you need a little distance to feel the love again.
Maybe, you don’t need a mental rest. Is your body just not having it? Injuries?
Take care of yourself. You have to figure out what pain you can work through, and knowing the difference between the pain that comes with training, and the pain that is telling you, “HEY, something’s not right here.”
You have to listen to that little voice. You have to make the choice to readjust your schedule. Maybe, take a day or two off. Again, not to go on a shopping spree and sip lattes with your bestie. (Save that for your rescheduled rest day.)
Take the break, bu keep in mind you have a goal and a fight at the end of this camp. Do something that is going to keep you moving towards your end game. Take an ice bath. Get a massage. Find a hot tub. Stretch.
If you need to, see a medical professional. Don’t put it off! The quicker you find out what’s wrong the quicker you can resume training.
As fighters, we are consistently pushed mentally and physically. It is so important to know your own body. Your trainers are supposed to encourage you to keep working through the soreness, the pain, all of the struggles, but you have to be the judge when you simply need rest.