Jess Warner-Judd is one of Team GB’s most enduring athletes, having been on the global circuit since Moscow 2013. Stuart Weir, our European Senior Writer, has often spoken with this exceptional athlete. I have to say that I enjoy this interview very much! 

8 questions to Jess Warner-Judd 

RunBlogRun, #1:  If your career ended tomorrow, what would be the highlight you would think back on one highlight?

Jess Warner-Judd: Probably world champs in Budapest [8th in 31:35.38]. You always dream of coming top 10 or top 8. So yeah, I’m very happy with that.

RunBlogRun, #2: You are only 29 but seem to have been running forever.

Jess Warner-Judd: Yeah, I know. I feel like when I’m on teams now, I can’t believe I’m one of the oldest. It’s just crazy because I remember my first world champs in Moscow when I was 18, and all the people I looked up to have retired, and they’re commentating now, and it’s just crazy. So I do feel old. I feel older than 29, especially when I see 21-year-olds coming through.

Jess Warner-Judd, photo by British Olympic Association

RunBlogRun, #3:  How do you approach races which, realistically, you are not likely to win?

Jess Warner-Judd:  It’s a difficult one because you never want to put a limit on what you can achieve. We always say, ‘Run a truly outstanding race, and you could do this, you could do that. A good race would be this position, this time. So we have a couple of aims, but I would never actively say I can’t win this. But I think you have to be realistic and it’s one of those. If someone goes from the gun in a 10K, you have to be like, Sifan Hassan can probably do that. I can’t. I know my limit. So it’s a really difficult one because you don’t want to go in with that sort of defeatist attitude, but if you go with it and blow up, you’ll look like an idiot. It is difficult. It was even like that at Valencia [January 2024 10K], with the winner running 28:45. I can’t compete with that. I can’t run that. So it’s like I went off. I think I did a 2:50 first K. And now I was already 6 seconds behind, and it just kept growing, and she went through in 14:12 or whatever through 5K. I can’t run that. So, you have to be realistic.

RunBlogRun, #4:  You have had the most amazing range over your career; if World Athletics were to introduce a rule that you can only run one event and one type of race, what would you choose?

Jess Warner-Judd:  I don’t know. I think I love the 10K. That’s my favorite on the track. After doing Valencia, I don’t like 10K on the road. It’s not the way I run the 10K. They went off so hard, and then it became a case of survival. When it winds up, I love that in a 10K. That’s why I like running at the World Champs and things because they normally tend to be a bit more conservative at the start.

RunBlogRun, # 5:  How do you work out your race tactics?

Jess Warner-Judd:  And I think for a 10K, I always run better when I get into it. If I’m on a knife edge early on, I never run as well, but it can come to a choice between whether you want a PB or a position. Sometimes that changes it, you know. If you wanna finish as high up as possible, sometimes you’re also waiting for other people to die. I like a middle ground. Nothing too ridiculous. But also you wanna be in it. You have to be in it at some point, and that’s why I was really grateful, I guess, at World Champs that I did put myself in. We said I might have finished a little bit higher up if I hadn’t gone with that initial surge with about 500 meters to go – because my legs fell off about 150 to go.

But it’s one of those like if I ran it a different way, maybe I could have come like sixth, I guess, and then I would have probably been like, Oh well, what would have happened if I’d have gone for it? You never know.

Jess Warner-Judd, photo by British Olympic Association

RunBlogRun, # 6:  How important are times as opposed to places for you?

Jess Warner-Judd:  I think times are important. Like I’d be lying if I said when I come off at Budapest I wasn’t interested in my time. I was like Oh, was that what the time was? I think so much of it now is orientated on times like people know what a time is, like they know what a good time for a 10K or a 5K is. So it is important, but I think I run best when I’m racing, and then the time doesn’t become so relevant. I would always take 8th place in the world over a 10K PB. Placing is better, but I don’t know. It’s hard. I think, as a runner, you’re never satisfied.  So I think you just have to sort of go with it.

RunBlogRun, #7: Tell me about your training. People always like to know your mileage and other activities.

Jess Warner-Judd: Yeah, This year’s been a bit different for me. I’ve really ramped up the mileage. So, before this year, I hadn’t done any hundred-mile weeks. I’ve done about 80-90 miles. And this year, I think. I’ve done seven 100-mile weeks out of my first 16. I think there’s been about 12 weeks at 80 or above. So it’s been quite a hard winter, so I’ve come a bit unstuck with racing.  Like the week before Liverpool cross-country, I did 105 miles, which was probably too much. I wouldn’t do that again. And so, yeah, the mileage has been a lot, but we’ve dropped it down to two sessions a week now because of that mileage. I do 2 sessions and a long run, and then some strides to try and keep my speed in, and the two sessions seem to be working really well because I think sometimes I push myself too hard. I’ve just been trying to listen more and not do too much. But as a runner again, I say things, and then I do things differently, so I’m not very good at listening to my own advice!

Jess Warner Judd, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

RunBlogRun, #8: I once interviewed Joe Kovacs, who’s coached by his wife. He gave me a great quote that went a bit viral on social media: “I just do what my wife says. It makes my life easier.” So, what’s it like being coached by your dad?

Jess Warner-Judd: Yeah, it’s hard because I feel like it’s very close, like it’s a very close relationship anyway, so it’s very difficult for it not to be all running orientated all the time. Like, especially over Christmas, it becomes like Christmas Eve, I’m doing this session or Boxing Day, we’re gonna do this session, and you know, like you wanna just enjoy sometimes just have family time. But he sets the training. We’re really lucky to have the help with British Athletics like Steve Bannon, Andy Shaw, and Chris Jones have been really good – just sort of feeding in a little bit more because sometimes when it’s the two of us, we’re too close to it. Sometimes, you don’t see the bigger picture. So that’s when my husband also comes in handy because my dad coaches me from afar. So if I look like I’m tired, Rob [husband] will be like ‘you need to back off’. And so it’s a real like team effort. And I’m getting better at listening. But I think because he’s my dad, I feel like I can push him a little bit more and be like, no, I can handle this; I can do this. I want more. Whereas I think if it was someone else setting it, they’d be like, yeah, I would probably listen more if that makes sense.

Jess Warner-Judd, the winner, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics