Workout Wednesday—Stephen Kersh Style

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Living in Flagstaff, Arizona, and training with some of the best trail runners in the nation, Stephen Kersh hit the trail-running scene hard in 2018. Kersh runs with his buddies, the Coconino Cowboys: Jim Walmsley, Jared Hazen, Tim Freriks, Cody Reed and Eric Senseman, among others.

Last year, Kersh won the Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine 54K, Under Armour Copper Mountain 50K, Tamalpa Headlands 50K and landed a second-place podium stand at the Pass Mountain 50K in Mesa, Arizona.

In April, Kersh made his 50-mile debut at the Lake Sonoma 50 and earned a spot in this year’s Western States 100. Finishing fourth in the race, Kersh snagged his ticket because two of the three podium finishers won’t use theirs (finishing top two at the Lake Sonoma 50 grants you an entry into the WS100).

We asked Kersh about his favorite speed workouts and he named this as one he did before Lake Sonoma. We’ve included a modified version below for those runners who aren’t training at the elite level (i.e. everyone). Please use discretion and adjust mileage and pace according to your personal fitness level.

Prep: Do a quick body scan. Take note of places in your body that ache, are locked up or are storing stress. Do your 3-minute mountain legs while listening to this song.


Warm up for 15 minutes

Run 4 miles at threshold pace

2 min jog

6 x 1:00 hills

then 4 more miles at threshold pace


Warm up for 15 minutes

Run 2 miles at 5k pace (the level where you’re not able to say more than a few words at once)

1 mile cool down

3 x 30-second hill repeats

2 miles at 5k pace

15 minute cool down

Check in with the places in your body that you noticed before. Can you release them while you’re running?


20 x 60-seconds on, 60-seconds off.

Aim for 10k pace (you can only say a couple more words) for the “on” section.

“It’s a great way to wake up the legs and remind yourself that speed kills no matter the distance,” says Kersh.

5 to 20 miles at alternating paces (depending on your level of fitness and volume right now).

“Switch between a bit faster than threshold and then recover at about a minute slower. An example would be alternating between 5:15 miles and 6:15 miles for 20 miles. It’s a great way to get through a long run.”

In normal-person language, switch between faster and slower miles or minutes. For example, do one minute harder effort, one minute easier effort. If you know your pace, alternate it occasionally.

If you’re not wearing a watch, rejoice and just change things up every once in a while.

“Whew,” says Kersh. “It’s exhausting just thinking about all of that.”

You got that right, Stephen.

Want to Know What It Takes to Finish at Western States? Just Ask Hellah Sidibe.

Find out what happened when this six-year run streaker and HOKA Global Athlete Ambassador took on an iconic ultramarathon in California's Sierra Nevada