Thomas Schiffer runs for many reasons.

He runs to stay in shape, for sure, but also to set a positive example for his children. And not only for his four kids at home, but the dozens of kids he teaches at Belle Chasse Academy.

Schiffer began the job teaching physical education Jan. 5. He said it hasn’t taken long for his students to follow his lead.

“One student’s parents told me that he went home and was checking his heart rate and doing some situps,” Schiffer said. “He said he was getting ready for a fitness challenge. That’s great. I get excited about that.”

Schiffer also is excited about running the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic on April 4. He is one of three of athletes The New Orleans Advocate is following each Sunday during the weeks leading up to New Orleans’ largest road race.

Schiffer, a 44-year-old Algiers resident, said he’s been running five or six days a week, and about three miles per outing. The teaching gig has forced him to shuffle his training schedule a bit.

“I really am a morning runner, but I have to be at school early,” he said. “So I’m running more in the evenings. It’s been a bit of an obstacle. But I’m getting the workouts in and still having a long run on the weekends.”

As has been the case for many during the recent stretch of cold weather, Schiffer caught the flu and missed a couple days of training. He has shaken the bug and is back to good health, he said. He also said journaling during the time off helped spur him back to training — a difficult thing when you are recovering from illness or injury.

“I’ve been telling people: Even if you just put up on Facebook what your training routine is, if you miss a day or two, you can go back and see what you have done or, in my case, what you haven’t done,” Schiffer said. “If makes you move. It motivates you to do the things you want to do.”

What Schiffer is doing at this year’s Classic is racing for the Kelly Gibson Foundation. The organization’s goal is to promote fitness and healthy opportunities for local kids. That goes hand-in-hand with what Schiffer is trying to impart at his new teaching job.

He’s on the wellness committee there and hopes to be part of a new physical education enrichment program at the school, as well.

“To be a part of helping people live well is important to me,” he said.