By Sarah Kingston, founder and coach of the Houston Marathon Foundation’s Students Run Houston program

The Houston Marathon Foundation is working with five area schools in the Students Run Houston program.  More than 250 students will be participating in the Chevron Houston Marathon race weekend of events. Good luck to all of our new student runners as they train for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

Meet Sarah Kingston, the founder and coach of the Houston Marathon Foundation’s new Students Run Houston program at Sharpstown High School.  Sarah is a physics teacher with Teach For America, working at Sharpstown High School.  She hopes this program will help students set long term goals, create healthy habits, establish student-teacher mentorships and build strong self-esteem.

Running has always been an outlet for me. Although I never competed on an actual running team, I have been running loops around my house since I was in 7th grade. I run for myself—because I have complete control over how fast I run, and how much I want to push myself.

There is nothing comparable to the feeling of finishing a long distance race. Crossing the finish line after 13.1 or 26.2 miles are moments in my life that I will never forget. It is empowering knowing that your body was pushed to the limits and that you finished what you started.  I know this is a life changing event and I wanted our students to have this same opportunity; to feel like they are on top of the world, like they can do anything.

I want our students to understand and learn that in life, great things come with hard work. This is learning about delayed gratification and working towards something for the process, not the end result. Running long distances isn’t about winning. It isn’t about coming in first, or about the medal that you receive at the end of the race. Running is about you – the individual. Running is about pushing yourself to do your personal best and be proud of the hard work that you put in. I want our students to be given the opportunity to experience this pride.

When I first approached the Houston Marathon Foundation about starting the program at Sharpstown High School, I wasn’t sure how receptive students and faculty would be. To my surprise, students of all grades were interested in the program, and I have 35+ students signed up right now. Even just talking about my experiences as a runner and encouraging students to get out on the track and run after school has been a rewarding experience.

Teachers and administration have been incredibly supportive about this endeavor. At the moment, 14 staff members have committed to the 16 week training program (running three days a week)—which makes this Half Marathon Club have the best teacher-student ratio of any club on campus.

This program has already brought so many students and staff together to work towards a common goal, and this is only our first week of practice! Although many students are intimidated by the 13.1 miles that their bodies will somehow run, they feel reassured knowing that many other teachers and students will be right by their side.

Watch out Houston, we have some new runners in town.

About the author: Sarah Kingston
Sarah is from Santa Barbara, Cali. and studied Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She teaches high school Physics! She teaches because she wants to make a difference. Sarah moved to Houston after graduation because of the Teach For America Program, and just started her third year of teaching. Races she has run: Nike Women’s Half Marathon, San Francisco Half Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon, College Station Half Marathon, AUSTIN MARATHON 2013!