May 2017 Instructors of the Month: Rafael Izquierdo and Amelia Jurado Fernandez

« Go Back

Rafa and Amelia, our amazing Certified Instructors in Spain, are partners in running and partners in life! Their tireless efforts continue to bring the magic of ChiRunning and ChiWalking to their community in Madrid, and throughout the country. Read their interviews below, and get inspired!


Rafael Izquierdo

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if) you do in addition to being a Certified Instructor. 
I am 49 (born in 1968), married with Amelia since 1993 (soon being married for 25 years!) and with three beautiful princesses called Amelia (20), Laura (18) and Martina (11). We live with a dog and three cats in a beautiful house in the countryside at Madrid outskirts, in a beautiful Mediterranean forest where we love to run and do MTB. I have a degree in Business Administration and currently I am the sales director of a successful company called BCA, the number 1 company in Europe in vehicle remarketing services. 

How did you start running? 
I started when I was 36, overweight, and I wanted to come back to have a good shape; but I did not have time to practice the sports I loved: tennis, MTB, skiing… and running was the easiest and most efficient way to fit physical activity in my super busy diary. 

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story.) 
After some months running, I began suffering all sorts of injuries, and I finally quitted running in 2011 because of it was so painful that I was simply not able to run. Amelia saw me so depressed that bought me the ChiRunning book, and that changed my perception of running… and many other things! After this I needed to meet Danny Dreyer and learn more from him, so Amelia and I enrolled to a ChiWeek, and this changed our life! 

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running? 
I would summarize it in the following: -do not get obsessed in achieving something by trying harder (more speed, more distance, more endurance…just focus in creating the conditions for that to happen! -the more you relax, the faster you will become -running and walking is here for you to enjoy without limits and forever! Just focus in doing it in with the proper form and within your current limits. 

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning? 
I would definitively say that leaning too much, but not relaxing enough. This is what we currently observe from the participants in the workshops that have read the book. Relaxation is probably the harder thing and the most important one to learn! 

What motivates you to run?
Wow! So many things! I would say that the main one is being connected with myself: with my body, my lungs and heart, my legs… and the simplicity and pureness of running. And, in many instances, the joy of sharing these moments with Amelia and with lots of ChiRunning friends!

What achievements are you most proud of?
No question about it: becoming a ChiRunning/ChiWalking Instructor!!! 

What led you to become an instructor? 
The ChiWeek was an unbelievable experience for Amelia and I, and we wanted to stay connected with Chi world from the distant Spain… so we thought that becoming and Instructor was the perfect way to stay tuned! 

Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?
The moment we enjoy the most is in the workshops: the initial moment in which you can feel the excitement and the curiosity of the participants, and the different “A-ha moments” during the day in which they discover amazing things about how to move more efficiently and effortlessly! On top of that, Amelia and I do the workshops together, so it is another opportunity of doing together something that we love. 

What does your average week look like, run-wise?
Well, definitively not enough! I average 40 kilometers (some 25 miles) per week, what makes my participations in marathons and ultras specially challenging!!! But Chi helps me a lot when I am short of training! I connect very well with my body and I know how to manage my reserves perfectly. 

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?
I am convinced that running is not enough to be healthy. So additionally I am trying to include every week a couple of swimming sessions, one or two of MTB, and some fitness since as you become older, you notice that you lose muscle more rapidly. And of course, diet is essential!

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?
Of course taking a workshop from a Certified Instructor, and after that focus on relaxing more and… gradual progress!!! Take it easy. In Spain we say: “Horse start, donkey stop” (I do not know if this is proper English!)

Favorite race you’ve run and why: Madrid-Segovia: a 100K that I have done twice with fantastic friends. In 2012 when we took part in the Chi Week I was dreaming with being able to finish again a 10K… and three years later and thanks to Chi I was finishing a 100K!

Most memorable race: Behovia-San Sebastian with Amelia: her first Half Marathon (well, in fact it is a 20K), a very special race finishing in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe (San Sebastian) 

Ideal weather for running: Summer! I love to run under the sun simply with shorts, running shoes and a bottle of water. 

Focus that currently dominates your running: Relaxation!

Favorite place to run: Aguilas, in the south east coast of Spain. It has an stunning semi- desert coast, almost empty. You can get lost for kilometers without meeting anybody.

Go-to before race food: Nothing! I love to run with my stomach empty and quiet.

Celebratory food after: well, it is more a drink… Beer! 

Upcoming race/goal: this year I want to complete 3 marathons (Seville, just done in February; Madrid in April and San Sebastian in November) and Madrid Segovia (100K) in September… and some other smaller races.

Run with or without phone/music: WITHOUT music… and WITH my metronome!

Repeat on your playlist: Eddie Vedder… and KISS

If I didn't run: I would explode!.

I can’t run without: Well, there is really nothing I need to run, not even running shoes!

My first race was: A 5 K with our daughter Laura in Aguilas and I was very proud because she won in her age group – she was only 6, and they were only 2 girls in her age group!

My current favorite shoe to run is: Merrell Bare Acces 4, and for distances of marathon or further my old Altras Lone Peak.

My most difficult run ever was: my first marathon (San Sebastian), before Chi: I collapsed at km 40 and I did not have a clue on how to finishing it… but I did it!!!. I’ve ran many many marathons/races, specially after Chi!.

The longest distance I’ve run is: 100k, twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Where? Madrid- Segovia, a very beautiful race commencing at 5:00 am in Madrid center and finishing by the old Acueduct in Segovia, built 1.800 years ago, more than 800 meters long and 28 meters high! To reach Segovia you have to cross the mountain range between the 2 cities through a 2.000 meters high pass. Before reaching it you go through several small villages, all of them celebrating and welcoming the runners with special meals and music.


Amelia Jurado Fernandez

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if) you do in addition to being a Certified Instructor.
I was born in 1968 and I live in Madrid, in a beautiful and green area 20 km away from the city center. I studied Business Administration and worked in this area for about 12 years (first for The Mitsubishi Bank ́s Madrid branch – financial markets department – and then at the University, teaching Finance to Business Administration students). In the meantime, as I loved dancing and movement, I certified as Aerobic and Pilates Instructor (I enjoyed this A LOT!) Besides, in 2011 I learned Bates Method, to improve my eyesitght and now I ́m a Natural Vision Teacher (Bates Method) and love to be in tune with all that has to do with life, health, movement, energy and people. I love my husband and our three wonderful girls, who are growing too fast!!

How did you start running? 
I wanted to join my husband and my girls, who used to run new year ́s eve race (called “San Silvestre Run”, the 31 st of December), but running was painful for me– I injured my knees skiing and they hurt when I ran -, usually so much that I had to stop running, so it didn ́t make sense to me. I could walk, dance, jump, mountain bike … without pain, but running… it hurt! So I thought it was not for me and didn ́t run much…

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story.)  
I saw the ChiRunning book in a bookseller and bought it for Rafa, my husband, who was about to quit running because of injuries. (I had already decided that running was associated to pain, because of my knees ́pain that appeared just when I ran) He read the book, liked what it proposed and gave me a surprise: should we go to Asheville to learn from Danny? I was really curious about learning how to run without pain… if that was possible at all, and really excited to go to the USA! And this first experience was life changing!

For the first time I could run and feel much less effort and…no pain!!! In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running? Running is an ally now. Before Chi, I didn ́t enjoy at all because you can ́t enjoy something that hurts you…My belief that running caused pain and that it was exhausting has completely changed. Now, while running I listen to my body and I ́m aware both of tension and relaxation, and I have the tools to let tensions go and keep balance and smoothness! And that is fun too! What a difference!! 

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?
To think that it makes you run slower. The concept of shorter stride is sometimes misunderstood, people think they are going to be slower and make lower times in races because they don ́t think about opening the stride rearwards and relax, so the pelvis rotate, to run faster and better. When they discover this, it helps to keep legs from going forward!

What motivates you to run?
Keep fit, healthy, move the body and the mind, go out in the open air and feel the nature, the smells, give my eyes the gift to enjoy the sun or the rain. I like when my girls see me running. I like them thinking they have a mother who moves and keeps energetic and happy! And when Rafa comes from the office and proposes: A run? That ́s a good motivation to run!

What achievements are you most proud of?
Becoming ChiRunning and ChiWalking Instructor and be part of the wonderful chi family around the world! Being able to transmit this to others and be a channel to make a difference in their running and their lives, as happened to me, makes me feel proud and very, very happy!

What led you to become an instructor?
Going to Asheville, to the Chiweek and meeting Danny, Katherine and the rest of instructors helping there, was a revelation. Rafa, my husband and myself were in love with what we lived that week, we were touched!! Besides, I felt in my body the benefits of ChiRunning and ChiWalking just for one week and I wanted to learn it deeper and solid, I was so excited!!! The idea of teaching other people in Spain was so great!

Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?
I enjoy so much being an instructor because I believe in ChiRunning and ChiWalking principles. It gives me the opportunity to live how people change to a much efficient and safe way of running. The joy I feel in my heart when they tell us how much ChiRunning and ChiWalkind is helping them is huge!

First, having learned and now teach ChiRunning and ChiWalking with my husband is really a gift for me. There are so many hours in the week that we can ́t be together because of work, that it is luxury and fun to be able to share this with him. We only have one life!!! Second, the principles of ChiRunning are so positive and transforming that it is great to have them and apply them for everyday life: to be aligned and relaxed, to do things following gradual progress, being patient and consistent…. WOW it is life philosophy!!

What does your average week look like, run-wise?
I use to run 3 – 4 days a week, 7 – 10 km/day. (sometimes, I start walking, then run and finish walking again, I love Chi-Walk run) And at weekends, one day run with Rafa and friends, 10-15 km.

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?
Pilates, bodypump – just discovered – and indoor cycling. And I dance at home, I can ́t help it, my feet move alone when music sounds loud!

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?
Don ́t try to change everything at the same time. One focus at a time makes the difference. Listen to your body and don ́t force things. Things to do: Don ́t hesitate to go to a workshop, and even repeat it some time later. Buy the book if you don ́t have it, you can always solve doubts reading it. Get a metronome and feel the rhythm while running. You will master the chi flowing if you let it grow step by step and safe. Nothing better than ChiRunning to get there!

Favorite race you’ve run and why: New year ́s eve race (we run it in the morning the 31st December). Family and friends running together, it ́s funny! Then we go to a bar to have appetizers and wish a happy new year!

Most memorable race: Behovia-San Sebastian with Rafa. Half-maraton in the north of Spain. He was by my side all the time, talking, making pictures… it was my first half -maraton and when we arrived, emotion came without asking… I couldn ́t help my tears from falling!! I wasn ́t tired at all!

Ideal weather for running: Summer, by the beach! Early in the morning and when finished, a reward: walking into the water, the sea is a quiet – soon in the morning waves haven ́t appeared yet…- , and huge cristaline amount of water touching my body from feet to the top of my head!!! Refreshing, under the sun….

Focus that currently dominates your running: Align feet and legs, and feel tripod grow, grow, grow (this makes me feel lighter!) Relax shoulders Feel pelvis rotation that brings so much fluidity to my movements

Favorite place to run: Aguilas, in the south east coast of Spain. We go there every summer holiday since I was a child. And Rafa likes it too, so we enjoy this place together. It is dry but beautiful, not crowded, still a little wild.

Go-to before race food: Water with lemon freshly squeezed (a little warm, even in summer)

Celebratory food after: eggs, kale, cottage cheese, nuts, grapefruit juice… a wonderful breakfast after running in the morning!!

Upcoming race/goal: I ́ll join Rafa in the trainings for the 100 km Madrid -Segovia for next September.

Run with or without phone/music: I run without music because I don ́t like to put earphones while running. But I ́m curious about running with music, so maybe I ́ll try some day! I switch on the metronome from time to time while running to make sure I ́m following the rhythm!

Repeat on your playlist: You can ́t hurry love! (Phil Collins)

If I didn’t run, I would: ChiWalk (love it!)

I can’t run without: In perfect temperature for me, I don ́t need anything more than… sports underwear!! If it is hot in summer, I can ́t run without a cap (the heat makes my head burn!). And if it is cold in winter, I can ́t run without gloves.

My first race was: I don ́t remember exactly, but when starting to run races, I used to join 5 km or 7 km races organized to raise funds. It was fun and I run with my girls and Rafa – except when it was women ́s races – but I remember one or another of us were complaining all the time, although we didn ́t stop running, hahaha. And Rafa had so much patience with us!!! Fortunately, ChiRunning has taken the complaints away!!!

My current favorite shoe to run are: Merrell vapor globe (ones I bought in the USA, in a shop. Kathy Griest recommended me to buy them and I ́m so grateful to her. They remind me of her!) Superlight, superflexible.

My most difficult run ever was: a 10 km, around 14 years ago, before learning ChiRunning. Knees hurt so much!. I couldn ́t walk properly in the next two days.

The longest distance I’ve run is a half- marathon. I ́m not looking for distance or time. Just the joy of running without pain and effortless makes me feel so happy.


To contact Rafa and Amelia or schedule a private session, please visit their website here!

Posted in Inside Chi

Related Articles