What Runners Can Learn From Muay Thai Fighters

by On Jan 4, 2016
What Runners Can Learn From Muay Thai Fighters

Ever wondered what's the main difference between a competitive martial artist/fighter and runners especially endurance runners or even casual but active marathon and long distance runners? Apart from the different goals of the former being about finishing timings and the latter about being better than an opponent in reaction, the differences are that mainly martial arts especially modern mixed martial arts (MMA) training is very anaerobic in nature much like sprinters' training.


The volume of every Muay Thai and Jiu jitsu training is not as much as runners spending hours as they build up their distances but it is more intensive. This is actually however one of the important components of the definition of fitness. So what does it mean for me?

For casual runners/exercise enthusiasts, "Fitness" is actually defined as the ability to carry out daily activities without undue fatigue. To get to the average fitness or even above average and beyond, it would mean that an individual should be growing in all components. The components are, cardiovascular/ respiratory endurance, Stamina, strength flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy and body compositions. This would mean you looking bulkier or even more muscular to the naked eye (aesthetically) and it might mean improvement in muscular strength but that is just one component of fitness overall.

What Runners Can Learn From Muay Thai Fighters

Photo Credit: 123rf

For active and veteran runners or people "shredding" this means you looking leaner on the outside but might not mean your body composition is ideal even if the fat percentage from your body fat analysis is a healthy percentage(>20%) if your diastolic and systolic blood pressure is not ideal and even a high internal fat percentage.

The point is therefore then that anaerobic training such as Muay Thai training continuous kicking and punching quickly and sprinting are the way to go as they train your anaerobic fitness which elevates growth hormones. Growth hormones are released by the body in greater amounts in response to physical stress above the lactate threshold, which is the reason intense sprints are so effective. The main advice is this, it is best to make sure you keep your overall cardiovascular fitness in check by doing three kinds of run.

  • Firstly, ensure your endurance runs are timing based, do not stop running, just be at a comfortable jogging to running pace but never limit your distance.
  • Secondly, complete the distanced based submaximal run by aiming to finish our national standard 2.4km in no less then 12mins or 3.2km or even 4km for those who's heart rate is still not at 220bpm-(your age) e.g. for 20+ years old your heart rate is not + or - 200bpm.
  • Last but not least a 10 seconds maximum of 12 repetitions. Adopt their discipline to also keep your body in tip top condition in terms of flexibility by stretching often. Do not do stretching as a chore nor pre/post workout activity.

In fact Muay Thai fighters spend enormous amounts of time stretching and coordinating their limbs via shadow boxing before training.

What Runners Can Learn From Muay Thai Fighters

Lessons From Fighters

Runners can learn from Muay Thai fighters in this desire to improve overall fitness, be in tune with their body by also having a focus on coordination in movements after bodily changes and all components of fitness and how they take care of their body post fight for quicker recovery but still maintain an active rest regime to not lose their newly built fitness. This translates to the runner resisting the urge to run and go cross train by cycling, swimming or even Muay Thai.

Have you tried any form of martial arts training before? What do you think runners and fighters have in common?

He credits his love of running, basketball, obstacle challenges and exercise to his past and current coaches, mentors and seniors who gave him advice, as well as the professionals he came across during his life journey. His certifications include Fitness Instructor Certification (Sports SG), Fitness nutrition (ISSA), Muay thai trainer (AMAS) and National Coaching Accreditation Kapap(Krav Maga) and undergoing Junior NBA coach course. He is also the lead trainer of the Reebok Running Club Project, active basketball player and coordinator of specialised fitness classes for remedial training for NSmen who need help to pass their IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test).

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