My view based on observing endurance athletes at a high and rec level for a really long time is that this stuff really is not that hard if you want to get moderately fast. Just get out the door. I can't remember if it was Gordo or Fleck who said, JFT = Just F&^*ing Train.
A number of years ago when Eric Reid and I both qualified for Kona, we were sharing a hotel at 70.3 world's and actually we were not sharing our plans or workouts. The discussion was focused on, "how do you structure your life to get ~2 hours of training per day, every day, all week all year" and still get rest and recovery and juggle work and family. Eric was an Army guy who needed to be at work at some crazy early hour like 7 am. I could related from my days as a serviceman. But his plan was to just get up early every day and get 75-90 min of whatever training he could in the morning and then 30-45 min "second workout" at lunch. Mine was more relaxed with a teenager at home and working tech. I could start as late as 9:30, train as long as I wanted at lunch and then just work until I had to, but I kept evenings exlusively for family time or coaching youth sport. Inside our 2 hours per day both of us were modulating training intensities in all sports, sometimes going harder sometimes going easier as life stresses and recovery would permit keeping in mind upcoming A/B/C races. My biggest challenge was 2x per month biz travel (26-32 weeks per year to west coast, Asia and Europe), but I had a routine of every morning regardless of time zone of 5:30 wake up and 90 min of running and weights and evening after work no matter how tired or how big the business dinner was, 45 min of hotel gym bike or hotel 10m pool or hotel weights.....whatever they had....or a second run. No matter how much jet lag, it was going to happen. In bed by 10 pm at the latest no matter how jetlagged and lying in bed 10-5:30 even if wide awake. Weekends to catch up on sleep and biking and pool time when back at home.
I would say the number 1 habit of highly successful endurance athletes is that they somehow magically make the training happen. As I look back at my most successful athletes especially those that KQ'd, 70.3 WCQ'd or Boston PB's, the ones that just got out consistently were race day heros, whether they hit today's power number target, track times, or pool times or not. And the ones who did that while getting enough sleep and keeping or getting body composition low and doing nothing stupid to get injured, they really rocked it. All those zones and splits and micro workout details, were great to keep them motivated.....but the big 50000 ft view is what made them fast.....not having to stop and walk in the middle of a hill because they are lurching out of Zone 1 and now they have to walk because they might totally blow their entire 4 week training block (can someone shoot the coaches that are prescribing that stuff?)
I need Fleck to get over here and explain who him and his buddies were racing 9:0x IMs by just getting out the door and hammering or just getting out the door and going easy....but the main thing is they were just getting out the door....all the time!