Since you asked - I'd be happy to share some more thoughts on the topic of solo training, although I do consider myself a true greenhorn, and no expert at anything.
The mechanics of my drills are very simple; I interpret what I read or watch on DVD and try my best to improvise, visualise and execute. I would say that there are three phases of this distance learning process - at least speaking personally.
2. Academics (books, on-line videos, DVD's).
3. Practical application (drills, sparring, workout regimen, dietary, etc.).
Where I live, it is hot all year round, and quite humid. Sometimes the climate makes for a strenuous workout/drill session and I always make sure to bring enough water to hydrate me for an hour or two. If I consume my water supply, I don't last much longer outdoors; the sweat is flowing so well that at times it feels as if the water goes from the bottle, down the throat, and out the pores in seconds.
Without water, I don't drill. I carry my supply in a 1000 ML/32 oz lexan bottle.
There is a location I return to when drilling. It is in a grass field, much like a public park. Sometime long ago the military installed these 'heart trail' workout stations and connected them with a path. They are largely unused and the paths have been reclaimed by the grass; but there is one station that I return to. It consists of four horizontal metal pipes mounted in posts of differing height. From here I can do pullups, pushups, stretches etc. The posts even make a nice pell I can strike at, push against, use for reference, etc.
I also take a yoga mat with me; it's very handy for stretches and ab workouts, and even makes a nice bundle for my tools when walking to and fro.
To strike something, I use an improvised 'bag' - nothing more than an old fender I found on the beach months ago, washed up after a storm. A fender looks like a big teardrop of soft orange plastic the size of a basketball. It is filled with air, and its purpose is to cushion a boat between the sides of the dock when a mariner ties his vessel pierside. This fender had sea growth all over it when I acquired it, so a little work was needed before I could use it as a bag.
I hang my stained fender from a tree limb or off one of my 'bars' with a short length of cord. Since it's made to withstand the crushing force of a boat smashing it between the hull and the pier, this fender makes an excellent striking surface. When it swings, pendulum-like after each strike I deliver, this motion translates into a timing tool, since I have to anticipate and time each strike. There is no recurring monotony here; I must recalculate and adjust between each and every strike. Each swing of the fender as it returns toward the plumb is slightly altered.
If it is too hot, or I am sunburned, or losing blood by the pint to the bugs, I will retire to the coolness of the gym, a short walk away from my 'bars' - and usually I am greeted with a host of confused stares as I make my way past grunting ironheads who see a skinny bald guy enter 'their' gym with a bundle of blunt weapons tucked under one arm, and a dirty orange fender hanging in the other arm. But they never give me any problem whatsoever, even if I start swinging a bokken or stick at imaginary targets. A few of them have even expressed an interest in learning; but I tell them all the same thing - that I am no instructor of any kind, and I am only just starting to learn myself. For some reason this hangs them up; I give them book and DVD suggestions and am cordially polite.
Getting a routine was the easy part; choosing what I wanted to learn - now THAT was tough. There are so many different MMA's and forms to choose from! Without any previous exposure to the world of martial arts, I had no idea what any of these strange-sounding names embodied as a martial style. What was Sambo? How is it different from wrestling, or BJJ or aikido? What is Kail? Arnis? How are they different from any other stick-fighting MA? I was flummoxed at first, and even a bit discouraged. It seemed like these dozens of names and styles only served to confuse and dissuade me from picking one.
Fortunately for me, a coworker and long time pal of mine became critical in the selection process. I had someone to bounce ideas off of - and this fellow is a tenacious researcher. If he didn't know the answer to my question, he'd dig it up in time and get some straight talk looked up. Without this man's perspective as a sounding board, I'd probably still be scratching my head and wondering which !#@$*%/ MA I wanted to learn.
It was important to have someone to bounce ideas off of; a coworker, a family member, etc. Even a forum such as this was helpful, but having at least one real person to speak with, to share ideas with, truly motivates me and keeps the days from growing stagnant. It serves as a constant catalyst to the first phase, Self-Motivation. Together we come up with all sorts of ideas on how to train, what to eat, how we are sore from the previous day. We motivate each other simply by seeing in someone else the effects of martial accountability. Neither of us are spring chickens, by the way. It's been very encouraging. Two disabled vets on a comeback trail, so to speak.
Each of us sees a little more honing, a little more learning, each day. Pounds of fat are melting off, old joints are getting limber, slabs of muscle are sheathing the frame. Old habits are vanishing and being replaced by a new perspective.
Once the motivation was cultivated, the process of selection was easy. I chose CMIA because of the practicality of using a cane; the movements are VERY easy to bring into Arnis or other stick-styles. The choice of Sambo was in case an opponent got inside the reach of my cane, or in case I do not have a stick to use. Sambo is the backup, the close-in stuff that I wanted in reserve. CMIA is the primary, the long-reaching style that meshes well with almost every other stick-form. CMIA was my springboard that launched me into the reality of stick work.
And I ended up here.
I wish I'd known about Dog Brothers before!
As it stands now, I'm seriously contemplating membership as a DBMA student, as it would be an easy intermeshing system; but since I've taken the plunge with the other two styles I feel I need to grasp these first - because it took me so long to choose them! - but I forsee good things with Dog Brothers.
Hope this helps - and thank you for asking me to post more on this subject. It's become quite a strong supporting element in my life and I enjoy learning all I can and sharing it with others very much.