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After the lockdown, after the base building, and after all the fun it’s time to get down to work.

The training plan I am following kicks off tomorrow and over the next twenty weeks it will guide me towards the start line of the LyonSainteLyon and – fingers crossed – deposit me there in the sort of form I need to be in to finish the race.

I say it starts tomorrow but that’s really when the running part of the plan starts. It actually starts today with a rest day and, after everything that has been going on recently, I’m happy to take it. Indeed, the plan I am following requires at least two rest days per week and this is quite different to the 6 or 7 days a week I would be running in previous years to prepare for ultras.

So what’s on the menu for this week?

Well after the rest day today, I dive into intervals tomorrow.

Yep, that’s gonna hurt.

I get the chance to recover the next day with an aptly named recover run of about an hour, but I hop back into intervals on Thursday.

Friday is a day off, and then Saturday and Sunday are both days for endurance running – each day I’m meant to spend a couple of hours on my feet, no more than that.

Now it’s been some time since I ran intervals. I used to run them occasionally when I would do the Wednesday night group runs with the Lyon Running Club, but even then I wasn’t really trying all that hard. I would tell myself that there wasn’t much point in being able to sprint for 3 minutes at 100% of my capacity if my race was going to take me ten hours to complete.

Yet it seems that what I thought about intervals was, in fact, wrong. Though there aren’t likely to be too many places in an ultra where I’ll be ‘in the red’ like I am meant to be in these interval sessions, being able to get to that point consistently and then recover is meant to prove useful.

Will it hurt? Almost surely yes.

But will I do it anyway? Of course – I’m not wimping out in the first week, am I?

All up I should spend about seven hours on my feet running this week and less than 40 minutes of that will be at interval pace. Still, when I look back at this first week of the training plan next week, I bet it’ll be the part I remember most.