Coburg Lake Classic 10km - Race Report

I restarted my training over a month ago with the intention of racing this race fast. Obviously having to deal with an injury and the required reduced running has meant less than an ideal build up. As a result my intentions changed to forming a race plan specific to my injury rehabilitation. It also became an opportunity to try something different in my racing.

The Coburg Lake Classic 10km, is usually a simple 2 x 5km out-and-back lap affair, with a moderate hill that results in 4 climbs (2 on each side) on a concrete bike path. Recent heavy rain saw the Merri Creek overflow and flood some of the course, so an alternative was in order for the day. The result was 4x2.5km looped laps, over a very undulating circuit the only flat section was the athletics track itself. Also adding into the mix was a section of wet, muddy soft grass that amounted to maybe 500m out of the 10km. Otherwise it was a mix of bike path, concrete path, a slippery bridge and road. As it worked out, the 10km race was really an 40m long, stated by the organisers pre-race and in my opinion much better than a short course. Quite a good plan B.

My plan:

  • Go out steady, making a conscious effort to hold back a little. Forget about about placings at this stage.
  • The overall aim is for a negative split with the fastest 2.5km split to between 5-7.5km.
  • I want to flip the typical pace profile of a race around and make what is normally the slowest section the fastest. I'll see where that ends up.
  • Run safe on the descents. Usually my advantage here, but going hard down hill will put my knee at too great a risk.
  • In the second half, if fighting for placings either gain advantage on the uphills or wait and use the final 200-300m on the track leading to the finish.
  • Overriding all of the above is I must maintain good running form throughout. In particular I need to ensure there is no excessive knee displacement, foot inversion or tibial rotation. This will require concentration.

Despite all the rain leading in, none of the wet stuff fell on our heads during the race. I taped up my knee and worked through an initially tentative warm up. Gradually I built to some reasonable speed, and covered a bit over 5km feeling good without any hints of problem from my knee. Almost by default, and probably out of habit I found myself right at the front on the start line. No one else seemed to want the position. At least it gave me a clear line through the first bit of heavy wet grass, and turn.

With space to move the positions flipped around with a mixture of initial pace changes from many. The combination of 5km and 10km runners in the mass start meant I didn't know exactly where I was. Some open space and clear view bend allowed me to do a head count. I was in 15th place in the mixed field.

Remembering my plan I settled into a somewhat comfortable pace for a 10km race. Things definitely felt sustainable. I focused on my form, which felt good, but did require a little extra concentration. Otherwise I just took in the changing nature of the course and gradually worked my way up the field. The first two laps were as straight forward as you ever get. The pacing was about 4:07/km, which hurt my ego somewhat. I had hoped to get an idea who was finishing the 5km ahead of me, but wasn't able to. Best I could work out was that I was in 8th place or one or two spots higher.

Onto the third quarter (5-7.5km). Following the race place I upped the effort level considerably. It didn't hurt like the typically race pace that I know well. Instead, my body just meekly protested like it wasn't used to trying to run this fast. It was clear I had lost a lot of conditioning. So despite working a lot harder, I just didn't the bang for my buck out of that effort and only managed few extra seconds over those 2.5km.

On the 4th and final 2.5km lap the previous effort was taking its toll. My adductor muscles were taking on a lot more work than they had been used earlier and my VMO was threatening to fail. As a result my stride faltered a little. So I backed off slightly, just enough to maintain form. Interestingly I clocked the same pace as my first 2 laps.


Most importantly I didn't suffer any knee pain during the race. Post race there was some obvious tightness in the patella tendon, and certain muscles which had been under worked in the lead up to the injury certainly had been called into play more than they wanted. So from an injury point of view, it looks like the rehabilitation is going as it should.

As for the race itself, I managed 5th place overall in a time of 40:42. Four weeks ago I would have been looking for the time to start with a 37, but I am happy with what I did considering the four week lead up.


Recover. Make sure the injury isn't aggravated by the race and it is a good kick along to corrective healing. Then I will look into forming a plan with plenty of checkpoints leading into the new year.


  1. congrats. good report. i love your analytical style. very interesting


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