There is a reason that the Olympics are every 4 years. I have been through 2 complete cycles recently now and can attest to the natural flow that it takes. After an Olympic year we all need a break from the intense training. There is a natural need for a less intense season. Then the build up can continue again towards the next Olympic year. We all need a break physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. Some of the elite repeat Olympians can take a year or so off, usually doing something else, then can come back to their prime sport a year or two prior to the Olympic year.
My competition on ice season starts in September and ends in March. After my season is over in March, I take a couple of months off and start off ice training again in preparation to get back on the ice in the fall. My couple of months off consists of mostly recovery work and fun stuff. I do a lot of low intensity bike work, tennis , golf, swimming, etc.
When I start-up the training again I try to increase gradually and go hard for 3 weeks and easy for 1 week. The easy week is very important for my body to have some continuous recovery. Without a break I can run into over training and be susceptible to injury and illness.
During my competition season I need to be able to peak at the right time. This requires an easy week or two prior to the competition. The longer the hard training period the longer the taper prior to the competition. The taper is done by keeping the intensity but reducing the volume.
In a weekly cycle I may go hard all week and take Sundays off. Sometimes I may go hard for two days and take an easy recovery day between. I still need to get in a certain amount of cardio training, strength, and skating in every week.
Even within a single workout I have cycles. After the warmup and into the meat of a workout I cycle between intense work then rest and recovery. Sometimes this comes in the form of intervals. Sometimes it comes in the form of a single maximum effort followed by rest. I do a number of different kinds of workouts with this in mind depending on what the objective I am trying to obtain. At the end of the workout I finish the cycle by cooling down and stretching.
So what do I do with this information? I can set up my training plan for the 4 year cycle, yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. I can revise it accordingly to fit my needs, desires, competitions and reactions to my training feedback and recovery.
Remember, work, recovery, rest, repeat.
The Native American indians have a philosophy about circles, all I have to do is respect the circles and cycles. The circle represents the sun, the moon, the cycles of the seasons, and the cycle of life.