Increase fraction of VO2max that can be sustained over the race duration, increase race specificity of workouts, maintain (or increase) Aerobic Capacity
As the Aerobic Capacity has now been well developed (within the available time constraints), it is now time to develop the fraction of this capacity that can be maintained over the race duration. The greater a percentage of your power/pace at VO2max you can maintain - the faster you will cover the race distance.
For all athletes, it is in the development phase where training becomes increasingly specific as they move closer towards their chosen event. During this 4-8 week block of training, THP athlete’s begin prioritising training intensities at, and around, the intensity level they will be racing at.
In terms of race specific training, in its most basic form - every event is merely a race of extension. That is to say, the primary goal of race specific training, is to extend the duration over which you can maintain target race intensity.
The specific fraction of the race distance, at race intensity, that wants to be attained by the end of the development phase - will vary depending upon the duration of the event. The physical demand of training for longer events at race intensity, prevents the athlete from attaining as high a fraction of the distance before the big day. For an athlete targeting a long distance triathlon for example, depending upon the individual circumstances, they may even only perform as little as half of the distance at race intensity during the Development phase.
For athletes competing in much shorter events however, it is very possible to exceed the race duration at race intensity during training sessions, provided it is broken down into more manageable sets and intervals with adequate recovery between each. Once this is achieved, the primary purpose of training, is to reduce the number of sets, reduce the number of intervals (by increasing their duration) and then finally, reduce the recovery time between each (or increase the recovery intensity).
Alongside race specific intensity, the athlete must also train the intensity levels either side - receiving anaerobic support from the level above and aerobic support from the level below. It is also important to note, that the primary intensity focus of the Foundation phase, must be maintained during this phase. Although there is a shift in training focus - nothing that has previously been trained, should be neglected and left behind.