Florida's Parker Valby After Winning The 2023 NCAA Cross Country Championships

The CITIUS MAG Podcast

November 27, 2023

"We faced a lot of adversity this year. I’m so proud of how we handled that and the resilience of our team. The change was definitely hard... Once I accepted the fact that it happened for a reason, it all worked out.""

Florida’s Parker Valby just won the 2023 NCAA Cross Country individual championship title after a runner-up finish behind NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy in 2022. She wrapped up an undefeated 4–0 season that includes wins at the Nuttycombe Invitational, the SEC Championships and the NCAA South Regional before winning it all in Charlottesville just nine days ago. She dominated the race and covered the 6K course in 18 minutes and 55 seconds to win by just over 10 seconds.

Parker is also the NCAA Outdoor 5000m champion and owns a personal best of 15:20 for 5000m and 8:49 for 3000m.

She has drawn a bunch of attention to her training methods after telling the media that she only runs two to three days a week while cross-training a lot in between. We dive into and clarify a bit about her training. We discuss what’s got her excited for track season and we answer a few of your listener questions submitted via Instagram.

Parker ValbyParker Valby

Johnny Pace / @PacePhoto


Going back 12 months when you were at nationals, you were there by yourself. Then you had a big coaching change and after that you had all these new teammates. Was it easy for you to adjust to having new talented faces around you and then being at nationals?

“We faced a lot of adversity this year and things didn't go the way that we thought they would. But honestly, I’m so proud of how we handled that and the resilience of our team. The change was definitely hard – the coaching change, the team change, everything. I'm not a big fan of change, so at first it was very rough. But once I accepted the fact that it happened for a reason, it all worked out in the end.”

What was the biggest takeaway from Wisconsin to set you up for the national championships? When you left Madison, what were you thinking about in terms of your own individual title chances?

“We didn't even know if I was going to race Wisconsin at that point because I didn’t know if I was ready. My confidence was not up there at that point. And then my coach was just like, ‘I know you're fit and you have nothing to lose from this race. It's just the first in-season race’. I got confidence from that and also just started trusting my coach that if I went out there and had fun it would all work out – and it did.”

When you sit down with your coach the night before the race, how did race plans come together? Are you just listening and saying, ‘alright, he’s telling me to do this, that's what I'll do’? Or do you also give some of your input like, ‘this is what I took away from last year, maybe we try this’. What kind of athlete are you in that sense?

I wasn’t confident in my abilities, I didn’t think I could do this after what happened last year, but I trusted what he said: ‘make your last 2K your best.’ And I did. And it worked out.”

When does that self-doubt start to go away? Because once you get to the front, your foot is on the gas and you start to pour it on. In those moments, are there doubts creeping in?

“Once the gun goes off, there's nothing you can do. You’re in the race. You can’t have self doubts in the race. I was just like, if I listen to my coach and have something left in the last 2K, he believed I could do it so I knew I could do it.”

Everyone wants to dive into training with you. It's the number one thing since the clips went viral at the press conference. You said you run 2 to 3 days a week and the highest mileage during the build up to the cross country championships was about 30 miles. Let's unpack this and add context.

“It's not like I'm jogging on those days [that I’m running] or that I'm cross training easily. I think people underestimate what I'm doing. When I cross train, there are puddles of sweat on the floor… Workout days are quality miles. That's where all the miles come in – workout days. And then ‘easy run’ days are the days that I’m cross training.”

What does a normal week of training look like? Let's say this is a training week and there's no meet coming up within the next week.

“I'll do a cross train double on Monday. Tuesday is typically a track workout or a grass workout depending on whatever we have coming up. So that'll be running on the ground that day. Wednesday will be a cross train single. Thursday, some weeks we have workouts, some weeks we don't depending on if we’re working out on Saturday. And then Friday will be a cross train double. Saturday will either be a workout, or off, or cross training depending on the week. Sunday is cross training.”

The cross training sessions – is it always the arc trainer? How do you diversify it?

“I go with the arc trainer, sometimes I aqua jog in the pool. My sophomore year, when I was coming back from my broken foot, I would aqua jog because I couldn’t do anything weight bearing. So I would solely aqua jog everyday. That honestly worked wonders. I mean I ran 15:20 off it, it's incredible.”

What advice do you have for transitioning between high school and college running?

“Don't be so hard on yourself and don't compare yourself to other people. That was probably one of the hardest things for me coming from high school to college.”

What's got you excited or optimistic about 2024? We’re turning to an Olympic year. What's got you excited about the sport and your own potential?

“I'm excited to keep progressing and honestly just having fun with the sport. I have a lot to look forward to and I'm super excited to do it with my teammates and my coaches.”

Support The Sponsor

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.

Related Episodes

Harvard's Graham Blanks After Winning The 2023 NCAA Cross Country Championships

November 22, 2023

View Episode

NCAA 1500m Champion Maia Ramsden's Global Journey To Success + Signing An NIL Deal With On

October 23, 2023

View Episode

Anna Hall After Earning A World Championship Silver Medal In The Heptathlon

August 25, 2023

View Episode

Nikki Hiltz Reflects On Their 2023 World Championships Experience

September 4, 2023

View Episode