You’ve just come back from warm weather training in Portugal in preparation for Varsity, can you describe the daily routine for the time you were out there?
Montana: It was really nice to be staying in half-board accommodation so that we didn’t have to worry about breakfast and dinner. Every day we would get up and have breakfast at about 8am, then cycle to the track which was about a mile down the road for a morning session that lasted for about 2 hours. After training we used the hotel pool as an ice bath because it was extremely cold but excellent for muscle recovery. We’d usually make lunch in our apartments as there were cooking facilities and a supermarket down the road from the hotel. We’d usually have another training session in the late afternoon but in the meantime there was plenty of time to relax on the beach, by the pool or to do some work. After the second session we had some more free time before dinner. On two occasions we went out after dinner and socialised as a team but most of the time we just relaxed in our rooms and went to bed, as training twice a day is pretty tiring!
What are the benefits of warm weather training? (Other than getting some time to relax and bond as a team in the sun!)
Sam: Warm weather training (WWT) is a fantastic build-up to the outdoor season. The warmer weather allows you to train more often and harder whilst it’s less likely to cause injuries. Having coaches there with us for feedback and Lesley (our sports masseuse) on hand every single day also made a huge difference both in terms of injury prevention and performance compared to visiting her once a week or fortnight. Essentially, WWT is an intense period of quality coaching and perfect training conditions and a great opportunity to get to know your team.
You met with Cambridge at FEAR (the Athletics club’s indoor Varsity match) last term, how did that go? What did the team learn from their experiences of the indoor competition that they can now apply to their training in the build up to the main event: outdoor Varsity?
Sam: FEAR was a great competition and as always, it was very close. The competition is run completely differently to the main Varsity and there are four separate competitions – field and track trophies for both Men and Women. The Women unfortunately lost both trophies but there were some very strong performances across the board, which is very promising for Varsity. Similarly, there were some superb performances in the Men’s matches with draws in both the field and track. Being beaten in an event by a tab or seeing a training partner overtaken on the line by a light blue is perhaps the best motivation anyone can have to train harder. Since FEAR, the team has been out in force at every training session and already there have been some great outdoor performances – especially from the OUAC Women. Cambridge looked strong across their team so the Varsity match will be a brilliant contest on May 16th at the Cambridge track.
What’s a typical week of training for a blue or half-blue athlete?
Montana:The sessions our athletes do vary somewhat depending on which event they are training for. Generally, for sprinters and jumpers, training would involve two track sessions per week (Tuesday and Thursday evenings), weights sessions and circuit training. Throwers do some track work but there is more of a focus on throws practice, weights sessions and strength/power training. Depending on ability, time available and how seriously an athlete wants to take training, the number of sessions usually varies from 4 to 6 sessions per week.
It will only make it sweeter when all four teams absolutely smash them”
What do you reckon our chances are of shoeing the tabs later this term? Especially seeing as it’s on their home turf this year.
Sam: The Varsity match runs as four individual competitions comprising of the Blues and seconds matches for both Men and Women. The year before last, Oxford lost 4-0 before the Men’s Blues managed to win last year 3-1 overall. This year, the Men’s Blues team is looking stronger than ever and for this reason, the Seconds team will actually mainly include people who could have been in the Blues in a weaker year – the depth is incredibly strong. For the Women, the team has had an influx of brilliant freshers with both awesome talent and a great attitude, which only builds on the fantastic core of athletes already in place. Although the match is at Cambridge this year, giving them a slight home advantage, it will only make it sweeter when all four teams absolutely smash them.
Any advice for those interested in athletics but aren’t too sure how to get involved?
Montana: Unlike some other Blues sports, athletics does not require anybody to be of a particular ability level. We welcome all athletes, regardless of whether you’re an international phenomenon or you’ve never even seen a track before. There is a lot of variety within athletics, so it’s a great sport to get into as you might find that you discover a hidden talent. The most popular sessions to start off with, if you’re thinking about giving it a go, are the Tuesday and Thursday evening track sessions (5:45pm for a 6pm start) or Monday circuits in the Iffley sports complex’s sports hall (6-7:30pm). There will always be members of the committee there training and they will all be happy to speak to you and make you feel welcome. The best thing to do if you’re interested would be to email either me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sam (email@example.com) and we can help you to get involved!