I get it, you’re in Thailand and you want to train as hard and as often as possible. You want to make the most of your time in the mecca of Muay thai and “train like a Thai” by putting in two intense training sessions a day, six times a week. There’s only one problem…
You’re not a Thai.
Now I’m not saying that you won’t be able to handle the daily grind of training that the Thai’s go through, I’m just asking the question, do you think it’s worth it?
Yes, you’ll be putting in the hours when it comes to hitting pads, punching the bag, clinching and skipping rope, but how many of those hours will you actually be focused on what you’re doing? Will you be benefiting from the amount of hours you are putting in, or will it end up being more detrimental to your technique and overall health?
These are serious questions to consider, even if you are a hardass who doesn’t believe in overtraining. Having an optimistic, resilient mindset where you believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to and push your body past it’s normal limitations is key to succeeding, however, sometimes quantity is not as beneficial quality. Be smart enough to know that overtraining is real and the more you know about it, the more likely you will be able to avoid it.
I’ve had my fair share of experiences with overtraining (training too hard, too often) and let me tell you, it sucks major balls.You think I would learn after overtraining so many times, but I hope that I finally learned from my mistakes because it really makes my life miserable.
To give you an idea what it’s like, let me tell share with you what the symptoms of overtraining are like in my perspective.
First off, I hate life. I also hate everyone around me. I think everyone is out to get me and whenever someone approaches me to ask me if something is wrong or to console me, I assume they’re trying to kill me so I run away and hide.
Since I’m severely depressed and want to avoid any type of social interactions, I’ll lock myself in my room with the blinds closed and listen to sad music or watch a depressing movie where the main character usually dies. The worst part of it all is feeling bad for myself and thinking that everything bad always happens to me… which it obviously doesn’t.
While laying in solitude away from the light of day, I’ll also start to doubt what I am doing with my life and put some real deep thought into quitting. After my body and mind have been pushed so hard it puts up this defense mechanism to make me think twice about my training and lifestyle. There has been a handful of times where I’ve had serious battles in my mind where I had to try to convince myself I still loved Muay Thai.
Besides the mental fatigue, my body will also feel extremely sore and fragile like I was in a 10 round fight where I lost every single round very, very badly. Getting up to use the bathroom becomes a chore and I start to curse the fact I you have to stand up to go anywhere. Damn you toilet and being 7 steps away…
Did I mention the fever and body chills I get? Those might be the worst. One second I’m in the Sahara Desert looking for water, the next second I’m shivering like I’ve been stranded in the middle of Antarctica… it’s not very pleasant.
To be honest, you’ll probably overtrain at least once in your lifetime, especially if you plan on making a career out of Muay Thai. That being said, you can still limit the amount of times you overtrain and learn how to avoid overtraining by picking up on the warning signs before it takes control.
The first way to avoid overtraining is by learning how to listen to your body and mind, which is way easier said than done and you shouldn’t expect to know how to do this right away. It takes experience, practice and making a ton of mistakes to understand how your body and mind work. However, you should be able to tell when you are pushing too hard because your body will start screaming at you and your mind will be begging you for mercy.
Keeping that in mind, there is a fine line between training hard enough to fight and training too hard where you overtrain. Like I mentioned earlier, chances are you’ll battle overtraining at least once in your career and it will take experience and awareness to figure out when you are pushing too hard.
Another way to avoid overtraining is to take scheduled days off regardless whether or not you feel like you can still train. Scheduled rest days are just as important as intense sparring sessions because your body needs time to rebuild and repair after grueling workouts. If you think you can continue pushing your body day after day for years and years while never giving it a rest, you’re delusional.
Lastly, having a caring, aware trainer (or training partner) who knows your ability and fitness level will be a major help in keeping you from training too hard. This can be difficult if you are training in Thailand for a short amount of time because of the fact that your trainer probably won’t know you well enough to know if you’re actually overtraining, or just being a little bitch.
There are three main remedies for aiding in the recovery of overtraining:
Swallow your pride and be okay with the fact that you might not be able to handle training twice a day, six times a week like a Thai fighter. If you think you can do it, by all means give it a try and see how you handle it, but try to be aware of your body when doing so.
I’ve talked to and interviewed enough fighters and trainers to know that quality is far more important than quantity. Top guys like Joseph Valtellini (ranked #3 in the GLORY Welterweight division as of writing this) is confident that he is where he is today because he takes a balanced approach on training. He schedules his rest days, focuses intently during his training sessions, and continues to learn how his body works each and every day.
Personally, after spending time training in Thailand on multiple occasions and trying to do the full-time training like the Thai’s, I realized that I am much, much better off training Muay Thai once a day and doing a light run or workout the other half of the day. Not only have I felt it benefit my training since I am more focused and present when I am hitting pads or working certain techniques, but it’s also helped my confidence and love for the sport grow since I am not burning myself out.
I guess my final advice would be this;
If you want to train like a Thai, give a try! Maybe you’re an beast and can handle that kind of grind, to which I applaud you. I don’t want to deter you from trying to push your body and mind to the limit, I just want you to be aware of the possibility that you might not be able to keep up with the intense training that Thai fighters are born into.
If you do try to two-a-days and can’t keep up for a couple weeks, don’t get discouraged, it happens to the best of us. If you’re able to train like a Thai, then good on you because I was never able to consistently do so. In the end, you just have to listen to your body and learn from your mistakes.
Through experience and listening to your body, you will eventually strike a perfect balance in your training where you’re able to continuously improve and grow your passion for the sport!
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