Hobbs Kessler is a name that should be on every coach’s radar. His recent 3:48 in the Wannamaker Mile, just two years after competing in high school, is a remarkable feat. But what truly sets him apart is his unconventional training approach challenging established norms and sparking lively discussions within the coaching community.

Hobbs Kessler’s Dual Life as Climber and Runner

Before lacing up his track spikes, Hobbs Kessler honed his athleticism scaling cliffs and conquering challenging routes. His climbing journey wasn’t a casual pursuit; he aimed high, representing the United States at the 2019 IFSC Climbing Youth World Championships at a high school sophomore. While his final ranking of 34th may not shout “champion” at first glance, it’s crucial to consider the context. This prestigious event brings together the most talented young climbers globally, making the competition fierce. Reaching the world stage and battling top athletes from various countries signifies a remarkable accomplishment and likely helped prepare him mentally for the pressures of competition.

High School Career

Kessler didn’t just break records in high school, he shattered them. In February of 2021, he claimed the American high school indoor mile record with a staggering 3:57.66, becoming the second youngest American ever to break the sub-4-minute barrier indoors. He also holds the National High School record for the 1500m and the North American U20 record for the same distance.

Kessler had plans to attend Northern Arizona University where he would have run with Nico Young and Coach Mike Smith. However, in May of his senior year at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kessler ran 3:34 for 1500m at the Portland Distance Festival. His time was faster than the current NCAA record at that time and prompted him to sign with Adidas and go pro directly out of high school.

Kessler’s Professional Career

In 2023, Kessler cemented his place among the world’s best with a thrilling victory at the World Athletics Road Running Championships. He smashed the 1-mile road world record, clocking in at a remarkable 3:56.13. This win solidified his arrival on the global stage.

He further established himself as a elite talent last weekend at the Millrose Games in New York City when he finished less than a second behind American distance runner Yared Nuguse. (See video)

Hobbs Kessler’s Unique Approach to Training

Hobbs Kessler, coached by renowned University of Michigan coach Ron Warhurst, has taken the running world by storm with his unconventional training methods and impressive results. While many elite runners log high mileage and prioritize long runs, Kessler’s approach differs significantly, raising questions and sparking discussions within the running community.

Low Mileage, High Intensity:

Unlike many elites who often rack up 100+ miles per week, Kessler keeps his weekly mileage surprisingly low, staying under 75 miles. He emphasizes high-quality sessions over quantity, incorporating various workouts like tempo runs, intervals, and hills within his doubles structure (4-5 per week). This approach prioritizes quality rather than quantity. He claims to never run more than 50 minutes at a time during the macrocycle leading up to Wannamaker. Which, for a guy like Kessler, translates about 9 or 10 miles.

No Long Runs:

Another unconventional aspect of Kessler’s training is the absence of long runs. He believes longer runs offer diminishing returns for his performance goals and contribute to unnecessary fatigue. This challenges the traditional middle-distance training model, where long runs are seen as crucial for building aerobic base. His longest weekly run during an uninterrupted training block is typically 7 miles.

Doubles and Quality Sessions:

Kessler doubles most days, strategically placing his workouts within these sessions. He incorporates 2-3 speed sessions, 2 lifting sessions, and 3-5 “quality” sessions throughout the week. These quality sessions could involve tempo runs, intervals, drills, or fartlek workouts, focusing on specific aspects of his fitness.

The Results:

Despite defying traditional conventions, Kessler’s results are undeniable. He boasts personal bests of 3:35.83 in the 1500m and 1:44.50 in the 800m, placing him among the world’s elite. His success challenges the notion that high mileage and long runs are absolute necessities for peak performance.

Kessler’s training raises intriguing questions about optimal training methods for middle-distance runners. While his approach might not be universally applicable, it highlights the importance of individualization and exploring different avenues to achieve results. His success serves as a reminder that many roads lead to Rome.






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