I found out prior to the start of my boxing programme that it consisted of a 5k run followed by boxing training for the first session, between 6am-8am, and the same again for the second session in the afternoon, between 2.30-4.30pm- Monday to Friday for 8 weeks. I couldn’t wait to get started and was really excited about the prospect of doing all that exercise and possibly obtaining a six pack, something that I hadn’t seen since the age of 17, and of course learning a new sport. (The idea of a wash board stomach was appealing but sadly it never came to pass). I did manage to lose a stone in weight during the first 3 weeks though. I did a little preparation by going for a run with the boys who I would be training with (Seb, Anders and Dean). My god it was hard work in the heat but great to do some exercise at last. I hadn’t done any since I had left the UK and, being used to regular workouts, NOT doing any is a bit of a shock to my system.
On the first morning at 5.30am Aek, one of our co-ordinators, picked us up in his truck to go to the boxing gym for the first time. The journey took about 30 minutes. We passed through small villages, being awakened by the sound of cockerels, and the local Thais preparing to sell their wares at local markets. This is the coolest part of the day and it was so nice to be out of the raging heat at least just for a little while. The gym was located in Ang Thong, which is a neighbouring province to Singburi, and it was basically a family run gym. The (so we were told) former four times champion of Thailand, Lunglit, lived and trained there, and it was pretty cool to go out running with him and watch him train every day (to be honest I am not sure whether this was exactly true, yes there were newspaper articles and photos in the gym, but whether he was champion of THAILAND remains, to this day, unknown. It was still pretty cool to train with him though.)
The first day we started with a gentle 2k run and then back at the gym we were shown some basic punches and kicks which we practised on the punch bags. The whole family are up at 6am and all of the guys there train. It is a “working” gym, in that they train all day, every day for upcoming fights which is how they make a living. It’s the only thing the boys know, they don’t go to school or have friends over. It’s very strict but they don’t question what they are doing, it’s a way of life for them and they seem to love the gruelling regime. There are girls in the family as well and the little girl, Mook, is very cute, although she can also pack a good punch, which I discovered a few times when she “playfully” landed her fist in my stomach. We practised speaking Thai with her and taught her how to count to 40 in English. When we first arrived that morning, a car pulled into the driveway and out jumped some of Lunglit’s brothers with Wan(Pichit), who had just fought in a fight, which he lost and sported a massive cut to his eye. Wan, for some reason became the object of my affection for the next few weeks but was sadly not reciprocated. I got over it eventually, must have been something to do with the heat and several Thai males training, their chest glistening with sweat and wearing nothing but shorts! We trained until 8.30am and then we left in the truck with Aek, back to the house to have breakfast where most people were eager to here all about it. We chilled at the house until we were off again with Aek, at 2.30pm, for the second round of training of the day. It was so much harder to run in the heat of the day but we managed a very good 4k, followed by more boxing, kicking, sit ups and skipping.
Day two- I managed to run 5k of the 10k route. It was just so hot, even at that time of the morning and Aek, who was following us on the motorbike, took me back to the gym. Whilst I was waiting for the boys to finish, I drank coffee and chatted with the rest of the family, in what little Thai I knew. Somehow, even though they couldn’t speak English and my Thai was very limited, we managed to understand each other. When the boys came back we did more boxing and kicking on the punch bag. In the afternoon, even though I had too much sun and was really tired, I still managed to run 4k and got to do some pad work, with Wan senior. I liked using the punch bag but it gets quite boring after a while. I much prefer kicking and punching onto pads, with someone holding them because they will block you and attempt to hit you, so you get more out of it.
3 days in and I managed to run the full 10k, so proud of myself as that was the first time that I had ever ran that distance. We used to run in a loop, out from the gym through the local village which turned onto a main road. Then through fields onto this really long road where you could see the end, but it always seemed to be the longest stretch of the road, and the end seemed to shrink away into the distance. Turned towards home, passing a local temple and back towards the gym. It was a really nice run. The 4k we ran in the afternoon took us alongside a canal, which the young Thai boys training with us used to jump into sometimes much to our amusement. There is no way on this earth that I could have ran 10k in the middle of the day, even the professional boxers didn’t do it. It was just too hot and any runners who have done this will know that it so debilitating and makes it much harder work.
Having done 3 days of intensive exercise I was aching all over, my muscles were very sore and it was worse first thing in the morning after being asleep and not moving much but it was worth it. No pain, no gain right?