Oxford University Athletic Club

Term Plan

12183978_1082723905072074_4805143462393585106_oWorried about fitting Athletics into your busy diary? Here’s a quick term-by-term guide to the club’s schedule, training phases, and major competitions to help you plan ahead. As always, check with your captains and squad leaders if you have specific questions or concerns!
By way of overview, there are three main competitions over the course of the year: the Freshers’ Varsity Match (in Michaelmas term), the Field Events and Relays match (‘FEAR’; held at the end of Hilary term) and the Varsity Sports (beginning of Trinity term). On top of this, the club will also be targeting medals at the Indoor and Outdoor BUCS Championships in February and May.

This year, our squad is more than capable of recording a clean sweep of victories in the summer Varsity Sports; so work hard now, and we will have glory in May.

Read on to find out more about our term-by-term plan for 2017-18.

Michaelmas Term


Training kicks off from 0th Week onwards – see squad specific training schedules for an overview of what a typical training week looks like. The programme is adapted to help ease all athletes in without injury – so don’t worry if this is your first time trying athletics! Returning athletes should arrive for Michaelmas term in good shape and ready to train hard. Squad leaders and coaches may organise pre-term training camps to help get you prepared, so keep an eye on your email and squad Facebook pages [link]! Fresher or returner, we recommend that you start doing basic conditioning [link?] well before the start of term – don’t hesitate to contact your captains, squad leaders, and coaches for guidance!


While autumn is not competition season, we do have a few fixtures in Michaelmas term which all athletes are encouraged to compete in.

Cuppers – 21st October 2017

Michaelmas Cuppers is the first of two intercollege competitions, and is meant to be a fun and relaxed meeting where anyone can try a new event for the first time. College reps [link] will organise teams to try and bring their colleges to Cuppers glory.

For Freshers, Cuppers also serves as a selection meeting for the Freshers’ Varsity Match. Any Fresher hoping for a spot on the Blues team is highly encouraged to compete at both Cuppers and Freshers Varsity!

Freshers Varsity Match – 5th November 2017

The Freshers’ Varsity Match is the first taste of Varsity competition against Cambridge’s “light blues”* (better known as ‘the Tabs’) for any athlete who has never represented OUAC before. Two athletes will be selected for each event on the basis of their performance at Cuppers and in training. The FVM has often predicted the eventual winner of the Varsity Match, and a victory can give OUAC the mental advantage going into future Varsity competition, so we will be fielding our best possible team!

*We think it’s more of a minty green. Go compete and you’ll see what we mean.


Hilary Term


The training load will intensify in Hilary term as you start to prepare for competitions. It’s therefore extra-important that you continue training over the winter holiday so that you don’t lose all of the conditioning you gained in Michaelmas. For some athletes this phase is about stepping up and working harder than they had been before; for others, it’s about converting their strength and fitness from Michaelmas, into power and sharpness in time for the indoor competitions. Whatever happens, it’s the most important training period of the year, before the focus shifts to competition next term.



For athletes who do indoor events, OUAC organises transport to a series of high-quality indoor competitions, such as the London Indoor Games, South of England Indoor Championships, and Cardiff Grand Prix. These will be in mid-late January – talk to your captains and coaches about which competitions you should be targeting, and keep an eye on club emails for exact dates and transport arrangements. Athletes who want to be selected for BUCS and FEAR need to compete at least once before the end of January.

BUCS Indoors – 16th-18th February 2018

BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) are the national university championships and are always really high-level competition. Athletes aiming for Blues spots are especially encouraged to compete at BUCS. Your captains will be in touch early in the term if they think you should be entering, but get in touch with them if you’re interested!

FEAR – 3rd March 2018

FEAR stands for Field Events and Relays, and also for the sensation felt by Cambridge when we turn up to compete. (The Tabs call this vFear – “because they’re very afraid.” – Dan Hooker, 2016). Four athletes score in each event. Track events from 200m upwards are run as relays, while in both the short sprints and the field events, team members’ performances are added together and the team with the best combined performance wins. Because of this format, every second and every centimetre counts, so the captains will be selecting the very best team to take home the trophies. Any athlete who is hoping for a spot on the Blues or Seconds team is expected to compete at FEAR, and FEAR performances – the only time you’ll compete head-to-head against the Tabs before Varsity, unless you’re a Fresher – will play a big role in Blues selection decisions!


Easter Holidays

Warm Weather Training – mid-late April

The whole-squad trip to Portugal is both an amazing opportunity to train, with good weather and world-class facilities abundant, and also to have fun and spend time bonding with your teammates, away from the pressures of Oxford! Keep an eye out for emails from your Vice-Captains during Michaelmas term with information on how to sign up.

Americas Tour – every four years

The Achilles Club [link] organises a series of matches for OUAC & CUAC to compete against joint teams from Harvard & Yale and Penn & Cornell. On a four-year cycle, the Achilles team either travels to America for matches at the Ivy League universities, or they come to the UK and we compete at home. Selections for the tour are made in the year leading up to it by team managers from Achilles and are based on consistent performances throughout the previous season and early in the Indoor season. The next tour date will be April 2021.


Trinity Term


Training in Trinity term will become more technique-focused leading up to major competitions, while the load and volume will decrease. It is extremely important that you continue to train regularly and tune your technique, but you shouldn’t expect to be able to catch up in terms of strength and fitness if you haven’t been training as much!

For those with exams, it is especially important to plan well later in Trinity term and maintain a good balance between revision and training – if you have been training hard all year, not only do you not want to lose everything you have worked hard for, but you will have trouble focusing, sleeping, and working effectively if you change your habits! So make sure to keep training, even if it’s only a few days per week.


Aside from FEAR, athletes should compete at least twice before the start of May to make sure captains have a good idea of their capabilities before Varsity selections! OUAC will organise transport to a series of matches during the Easter holiday and throughout Trinity term:

Trinity Cuppers – 28th April 2018

Like Michaelmas Cuppers, this is a competition between colleges. Trinity Cuppers also serves as the final selection match before Varsity, so all athletes hoping for a spot on the Blues or Seconds team are expected to compete.

BUCS Outdoors – 5th-7th May 2018

One of the biggest university fixtures of the year, the BUCS outdoor championships is a very high-quality event, and is a chance for Oxford to lay down performances that will leave the Tabs terrified for Varsity 2 weeks later. Looking beyond our rivalry with the light-greens, this is the chance for Oxford to position itself as a serious force in student athletics, and so we will be seriously targeting a number of medal and top-5 finishes.

Kinnaird & Sward and LICC matches: once a month from mid-April, organised by The Achilles Club.

Oxford City Opens: Organised by Oxford City Athletics Club, an easy cycle ride away at Horspath Athletics Track. These opens are limited to a few events, so be sure to check the Oxford City website for details. (These will also be emailed around.)

Watford Opens: Like the Oxford Opens, these are limited to a few events and are especially popular for the middle-distance runners due to Watford’s fast track.



19th May 2018

The pinnacle of the year, the moment we’ve all been training for: time to shoe the Tabs and bring glory to the Dark Blues! Two athletes are selected per event for the Blues team, and a further two per event for the Seconds team. We’re out for the clean sweep, 4-0 victory this year, so every performance will count…


The athletics season does not end with Varsity, however:

Penn Cornell Tour Match – 30th June 2018

This year it is the turn of Penn & Cornell to tour the UK, with a match against Achilles at Iffley Road.

Town vs. Gown – mid May

A friendly competition between OUAC and other clubs from the area. Generally a more low-key competition, although the standard has been quite high in some events in recent years. Two athletes and two guests are selected per event.


Summer Holidays

The athletics season is only just getting started by this point, and PBs continue to happen late into the July and August! For those who are affiliated with a club at home, make sure you are competing in league matches. If you aren’t affiliated yet, talk to your captains about joining a club. Achilles will also continue to organise LICC matches throughout the summer.

In August/September when you’ve finished competing, it’s important to take a few weeks off to rest and recover, followed by a period of “active rest” – low-intensity cardio and fitness to keep you moving without placing too much strain on your body.

Looking ahead to Michaelmas term, start introducing more strength and conditioning work to get ready for your next round of training.


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