I've got two conflicting thoughts going through my head right now. One comes from planning out an ultra-endurance race schedule and looking at maps/elevation profiles - it's this voice screaming, "you have to train, now." Those races are hard, hard, hard, there's just no way around it. They push you, break you down, change you. In many ways they kind of terrify me. Sometimes I wonder why I sign up at all, even though I couldn't imagine not doing them. So, I'm feeling some pressure to get in shape.
But the other side of me says this: you're working full time and it's snowy outside, how effective is training going to be? AND, you were burned out and feeling like ashes by the end of August last year, and that is a solid month before the Pisgah Stage race. So chill already.
Truth be told, I think the second voice is the smarter one. There aren't a whole lot of young guys in the ultra endurance scene, and many of us routinely get smoked by guys 10 years older than us. Which makes sense. I don't have nearly as many cumulative miles in me as they do.
It seems like traditionally, the path to endurance racing runs through short course NORBA style stuff. So I see it as kind of an experiment to go straight to longer stuff.
My conclusion, at least for now, is that a shorter season might be a stronger season. It seems like it might be worth a try at least. I'll start riding as the snow melts, plan to be in peak form by the end of June/July, chill and recover, and then go for peak number two in September. Sounds pretty scientific eh? Well, it is and it isn't. That's about two months behind what I've done the last couple of years. I typically start intervals in March, so that means I'm looking at mid-April at the earliest for those, and no big volume until the end of March at the earliest.
There are lots of schools of thought on this sort of thing. I've seen interviews with Ryan Trebon where he mentions that he thinks it's silly for pro racers not to race all year. I'm sure that works for some folks. I think having another job adds one element, and I think being a relatively young racer adds another. It's a fine line between pushing to your full potential and burning out.
For me the key has been to think independently and fine tune each year based on my work schedule and past experience. I have a few folks that I talk to but no formal coach. Will this year's plan work out? Hard to say, but the bottom line is that if you spend a bunch of time riding your bike you're going to ride pretty fast. And if your head is in the game and you're having fun, you'll go exponentially faster.