Retired Chesapeake Sheriff Sergeant chosen as Virginiaâs 2019 Menâs Master Track and Field Athlete of the Year
by Rob Lauer
Ronald Humphrey with his USA Track and Field trophy recognizing him as Virginia 2019 Menâs Master Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Youâre never too old to get into shape,â Ronald Humphrey says with a smile.
If anyone doubts the truth of this adage, they neednât look any further than this retried Chesapeake Sheriff Sergeant for verification. With the lean, well-muscled physique of a 30-year-old, jaws may justifiably drop when people learn that Ronald is 61 one years old. But his aura of youthfulness is not limited to his physique. The self-assurance in his walk, vitality in his movements, the sparkle in his eyes, and warmth in his smile all radiate youthful good health.
There are also medals and trophies on his shelves. Most recently, Ronald was chosen by USA Track and Field as Virginiaâs 2019 Menâs Master Track and Field Athlete of the Year. He received the award at a celebration in the Jepson Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Richmond on February 9.
âThe judges look at what an athlete does over the yearâthe types of events in which they compete,â Ronald explains. âLast year, I had a pretty good year. At the national games, with 14,000 athletes competing, I won three gold medalsâfor the 400-meters, the 100-meters, and the 50-meters. I also won second place in the 200-meters. My 400-meter time was the fastest in the nation for my age groupâage 60-64.â
Ronaldâs love for running track began when he was young. He competed in high school, but like so many teen athletes, upon graduation, he stepped away from sports. After time in the military, Ronald settled into a career with the Chesapeake Sheriffâs Office.
âDuring my years with the Chesapeake Sheriffâs Office, I was active with the departmentâs Law Fit program,â Ronald recalls. âOne of the programâs goals was to make sure the recruits were fit. We were all regularly tested with the mile-and-a-half run and the number of sit-ups and pull-ups we could do in 60 seconds.
âAt that time, there were city games at Indian River High School,â he continues. âI thought that it would be interesting to participate, so I ran in the 50-meters and the 100-meters. Others told me, âWow, youâre fast. You should run in the Senior Games.â So, I did. At 55, I started training again, and every year after that, I got stronger and faster.â
Ronaldâs commitment to training impressed the department. He was asked him to help train recruits. âI really felt good about doing that,â he says, âespecially when people thanked me for helping them. One particular recruit had never run track or field. In the beginning, it was a pretty emotional experience for her. So, we worked out on Saturdays and Sundays, and she trusted what I told her. Later, her dad said, âWow, if not for you, she wouldnât have made it.â But she stuck with it. She put in the work, and it paid off.â
Encouraged by friends and co-workers, Ronald also began participating in USA Track and Field events. There, he not only fully reconnected with his youthful love of the sport but joined a nationwide community of fellow runners.
âOne of the things that I like the most about running in track and field events are the bonds Iâve made with other runners,â Ronald says with a smile. âIâll see friends at one event, and theyâll ask, âHey, are you going to that event in Greensboro or one in Mexicoââand Iâll say, âYep, Iâll be there.â Thereâs such a strong sense of camaraderie. We know weâre building long-lasting relationships. This spring, we have an indoor championship coming up in Baton Rouge, and Iâm looking forward to seeing my old running buddies there.â
Exercise is now a regular part of Ronaldâs life. âI try to work out about three times a week,â he says. âIâll stretch, then warm up with a jog before running for 200 or 400 meters. The next time I work out, I might do some speed training, and then incorporate some weight training. A healthy diet is important, too. I eat high fiber fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water.â
âThe main thing with starting an exercise routine
is to take it one day at a time,
gradually pushing yourself
is to take it one day at a time,
gradually pushing yourself
a little further at each stage.â
In addition to the exhilaration of competing, the sense of community with other runners, and the winning of awards, Ronald has a new appreciation for how exercise can improve oneâs overall quality of life.
âYou really are never too old to begin exercising,â he insists. âStart out with simple walking. Then when youâre comfortable with that, move into running. After a while, start doing some weight training to get stronger.â
Often when people hear talk of running and weight lifting, images of running marathons and bodybuilding come to mind. But this is not what Ronald and health experts mean when they recommend such exercises. By beginning with simple walking and then easing into running at oneâs own pace, oneâs physical stamina increases. Weight lifting should start using lighter weights that can be picked up comfortably but which will leave oneâs arms feeling fatigued after ten repetitions. When ten repetitions become easy, slightly increase the weight. This approach to exercising can quickly increase oneâs strength. Daily tasks that have become difficult with time can once again become easy.
âStretching is also vitalâin fact, thatâs one of the most important things we can do as we age,â Ron explains. âThe main thing with starting an exercise routine is to take it one day at a time, gradually pushing yourself a little further at each stage. Each time you push yourself, your muscles might feel a little sore the next day. So, you rest for a day. People think they have to go to the gym or exercise every day. They donât. âI had one friend complain, âMan I work out every day, and Iâm worn out.â I told him, âThatâs the problem. You need to rest.â Our bodies will let us know what they need. If your body hurts, you need to rest. Itâs important to rest a day between workouts so that your body can recover. Exercise and rest, exercise and restâitâs a cycle. The result will be a healthy lifestyle that leaves you feeling better and able to fully enjoy the good things life has to offer.â