When people come to me for counsel at church, most often seeking financial assistance, the protocol I have to follow is to help them set the goal to become self sufficient. Once they have that goal set, we have to focus on a plan to get them there. For some, it's a matter of applying for work. For others, it means going to school and getting an education so they can be qualified for employment that will provide them with enough income to be self sufficient. Everyone is at a different level, and although the goal is the same for everyone, the plan for getting there isn't.
The same situation exists for health and fitness. Running an Ironman triathlon is quite a goal, but the plan to get there has to fit the individual. I have seen dozens of training plans, began considerably more than a handful of them, and abandoned each one within weeks. Why is this? Because they haven't fit me and my needs. Also, plans must be adaptable to fit the changing needs of each individual. Here is where a professional coach or trainer is most valuable. That person knows the athlete and adjusts the training program to fit the athlete's needs and progress. The problem is, sometimes there simply isn't money in the budget for a coach.
Over the twelve years I have been running and triathloning, I have had the opportunity to train with a coach only once. Following a specific program and reporting weekly to my coach resulted in my running my PR marathon of 3:10:52. I've never repeated that performance, nor have I come even remotely close to it. If you can afford a coach and can find one that will work well with you and your personality, I highly recommend it. You'll progress far better with a coach than you will on your own.
For me, this year, I can't afford a coach, so I'm on my own.
Goal: Finish Ironman Florida in 12 hours.
Plan: Train consistently for the next ten months, (Race Day is exactly ten months from today,) meaning an average of 6 hours per week. This may be considered an annual training plan of logging 350 hours of training this year.
First 90 days, swim, bike, or run for one hour a day, six days a week.
I prefer running, so the plan is to track my daily workouts, gradually increasing speed and distance in the one-hour time allotment each day.
I also want to get back to a reasonable racing weight, preferably 175 pounds or lighter.
On January 1, I weighed 218 pounds first thing in the morning. I ran 6.12 miles in 1:00:01.
On January 2, I weighed 216.4 pounds first thing in the morning. I ran 6.36 miles in 1:00:01.
On January 3, I weighed 213.4 pounds first thing in the morning. I took Sunday off as a rest day.
On January 4, I weighed 215.6 pounds first thing in the morning. I ran 6.46 miles in 1:00:46.
Today, January 5, I weighed 214.6 pounds first thing in the morning. I ran 6.59 miles in 1:00:01.
My plan will have to adjust as I progress, but for now, the short-term goal is to hit 6 hours a week (one hour per day, six days a week) until March 31. I also want to lose ten pounds a month. Getting rid of the extra holiday sweets will go a long way to accomplishing that.