Rafael Estévez, an NH Friend with a runner’s heart

By Courtney Imel | 10:15

Rafael Estévez, active runner and Maître at NH Habana


You know what they say, a run a day keeps the doctor away. Well, even if we’ve modified the original expression, there is no excuse not to get moving this New Year! Today we introduce you to a very special NH Friend who believes a great run contributes to a healthy body and mind.

Rafael Estévez, who has been a part of NH family for more than 28 years, currently holds the position of Maître d’hôtel at NH Habana in Madrid. He began to grow an interest in running in search of getting in shape for the summer back in 1986 when he worked at the NH Sanvy. But it wasn’t until early 2000 that he started to become a running fanatic by running at least 5 days a week every month of the year.

In 2004 he finally completed his dream of  participating in the Madrid Half Marathon, which he continues to do every year. His current workout is an astounding 17km daily, except on Tuesdays when he runs with our very own running group NH Runners. Then he tends to lower his daily km to keep with the group.  

See what’s behind Rafael’s fitness success in this exclusive interview and, you never know, perhaps it will serve as some inspiration for your New Year’s resolution! 

Any advice you would give to first-time runners? 

Do not let the minor setback get you down, the soft spot of the run will come over time, not overnight.  

How do you keep your motivation running high? 

When I start to see the results from jogging over time, and I reach my proposed goals. 

Any diet recommendations? 

Training and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand, not dieting. Simply watch what you eat. Since I run, food is an important part of feeling good. 

Safety tips for newbies? 

It’s important to follow a set of guidelines, warm up your muscles before running, begin jogging slightly to get comfortable with a starting pace and make sure the change in speed is not abrupt. At the end of your workout, stretch major muscle groups that we use to cool down so they go back to their natural position. We will never be safe from injury but if we listen to the body when it’s trying to warn us that we are not doing something right and rest, we will get to where we want to be. 

What are ‘must haves’ in terms of running equipment? 

The first thing to consider are your running shoes, not just any kind are acceptable and it’s essential to find the correct pair because in the end our feet are what suffers from contact with the ground and constant hammering. 

What led you to complete/win your first marathon/half marathon?

Ha, ha, ha, I’ve never won a marathon, and I probably never will. But the feeling you experience when you first finish a 10km, a half marathon or 100km, you can’t explain it, you have to live it, but I tell you now I’m hooked forever.

You form part of the group NH Runners, tell us more about it. What does it mean to you?

NH Runners was a project brought forth by our colleague Aileen Koh to try to create a group of runners with a common denominator of belonging to a group by bringing together corporate people, the BUs and hotels, so they can run together one day a week and be put up to any challenge. The project has been consolidated on Tuesdays which is the day when about twenty of us get together. 

I have followed the process from the beginning, helping the group with my prior experience that I have and more time doing this, I also give them advice or attempt to clear any doubts they may have when they start. It’s a very special group, and I encourage my peers to run. Those that want to start can show up every Tuesday at Retiro Park in Madrid!

Why and how did you decide to start running professionally?

Well the truth is that my professional running career is non-existent. Yes, I am an enthusiastic supporter and fan. I started when I realized I had to find a remedy for my physical activity that derived from many years and that if I didn’t do something it would be hard to turn back time. Then, over time I have managed to overcome the challenges imposed, it’s important to not let your guard down and continue. 

What do you feel when you run? What benefits does it bring you?

Each runner gets a number of sensations, some studies say you experience segregation of endorphins when you run. When you finish, you feel comfortable and happy with yourself. Besides improving health, it also helps with cold and flu problems and other things that a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t give you. 

Do you use any software or app to run?

No, I’m from the Walkman generation and as far as I’ve got is to run with music from an iPod. 

Do you share your routine?

Well, my family shares and “suffers” my routine. My wife and daughter accompany me and encourage me in the races I do and they support me through the long preparations and oddities that running entails.

Do you recommend keeping  up with your workout while on holiday? 

Try to slow down the pace while on holiday or right after a marathon because the body also needs to relax but it’s important to keep up with it. 

We hope Rafael’s interview has inspired you to begin a workout of your own! What about you? How do you stay in shape? 










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