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How Duane Scotti Became a Healthy Runner

I couldn’t sit for more than 10 minutes or feel my buns which ironically wound up being the beginning of one of the lowest points in my life.  The thought of sitting in my car for my morning commute stressed me out, let alone being told by my doctor to stop running until my injury healed.

 

I was a 31-year-old father with 2 little girls, gaining weight, feeling out of shape, getting “dad bod” and couldn’t run because of an injury!  Can you relate to this?  Maybe you are in a similar situation that you are trying to get out of.

 

Let me take you back a couple of years to fill you in on how I got to this frustrating point in my life…

 

I grew up like most kids who were born in the late 70’s always playing sports outside with my friends and riding my bike into the dark hours of the night without a care in the world.  My formal “sport” was dance.  Yes, I was a dude who went to dance school and I am not ashamed of that (like I was in middle school) because it led to me meeting my wife at dance school (as evidenced by our senior year duo picture)

 

Duane and his wife Deb dancing

 

I would get my exercise in by dancing 3 hours a day for 3-4 days per week and I would love to take weekend classes in NYC at Broadway Dance Center (tap was my favorite and I idolized Gregory Hines, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly just to name a few).

 

At this time, I also started working out in the gym because I needed to build my upper body strength to master all the awesome partnering lifts flinging girls around (1 of the benefits of being a male dancer)

 

This was my introduction to working out for physical health and then that accelerated when I went to college for physical therapy school at Quinnipiac University.  I was taking courses in anatomy, biomechanics, and kinesiology and absolutely loved applying what I was learning in the gym with my own strength routines!

 

For the first 7 years of my PT career, I began my pursuit of lifelong learning taking loads of continuing education courses and becoming a board-certified specialist in orthopedics.  During this time, the one constant form of exercise for me was working out in the gym 5 days a week.  I absolutely loved trying new exercises, pushing hard to gain new muscle, and witnessing first-hand the physical benefits I received from strength training.

 

Duane working out in the gym

 

Now let’s fast forward to the day that changed my life forever…and it wasn’t in the way I thought either!

 

August 2010, while playing some backyard volleyball during my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday party, I landed awkward after spiking the ball.  I felt a sharp pain inside my left hip, and my leg almost gave out.  The pain worsened over the next couple of days and progressed to the point that I couldn’t turn or change directions quickly even with just walking.

 

How Duane injured his hip playing volleyball (terrible form)

 

Good thing for me, I was an orthopedic sports medicine PT who had some sweet connections.  Despite my best efforts to treat it conservatively with rehab, I did need to get a surgery called a hip arthroscopy to repair a torn labrum and some cartilage.

 

Duane underwent a hip arthroscopy surgery

 

As a result of the cartilage tear, the surgeon elected to do a microfracture procedure which meant I was forced to use crutches and not put any weight on my leg for 6 weeks!  Talk about being reliant on your wife to not only take care of our 2 daughters under the age of 5 but now her husband!

 

During that time, I gained weight, lost muscle, and just felt disgusting as my body had never looked the way it looked.  I had never experienced anything like this before and I asked my surgeon what he recommended I could do to get back in shape and he said…Just go for a run”.

 

Now, I have never been a runner, when I tried in college, I just got piriformis pain or shin splints every time I tried to run for any distance.

 

I only ran on the treadmill for short bursts after my gym workouts to do some “cardio”.

 

My surgeon explained that he did not want me running on the treadmill due to the stress it placed to the front of the hip socket, which was the same area that he shaved off bone during my surgery.  Therefore, his recommendation was to “just run outside”.

 

Now, it was early March where I live in Connecticut and it was still cold and the thought of running outside was just terrifying, but I was determined to get in shape and get my active lifestyle back, so I gave it shot!  Can you guess what happened next?

 

…I really enjoyed running outside, getting in that fresh air feeling, taking in my surroundings and for me coming off surgery it just felt great to be able to work up a sweat and exercise again!

 

I loved it so much that I started to run faster and then signed up for my first 5K race (The New Haven Labor Day Road Race) and managed somehow to do pretty well finishing in 21:20 or a 6:52 min/mile pace.

 

Duane’s first race at New Haven Labor Day Road Race 2011

 

After this race, I remember thinking to myself…hey ,that was not too bad for my first race!  So I continued to explore this whole running thing and trained and worked on running faster and faster (getting PR’s) and longer and longer finishing 10k’s, 10 milers and then I wanted to challenge myself and train for my first half marathon!

 

Duane took 3rd in his age group for his first 10k

 

And you know what happened next?  I got my first “running injury” which was this deep aching pain at the bottom of my butt right where the “sit bone” is or the top of my hamstring.  Initially I thought the pain would just go away but it was stubborn and was getting worse to the point that I couldn’t feel my buns or even sit for more than 10 minutes, let alone run.

 

 

 

The pain lasted months and my family and I couldn’t even drive to Long Island, NY to visit our families because I literally couldn’t sit for the 2-hour drive.  I didn’t understand why it wasn’t getting any better as I was doing everything my PT books said and I was taught.  I was resting it and stretching my hamstrings and was told by my doctor to stop running and he even told me “maybe running is not the sport for you”.

 

This was devastating to me at the time… Here I was, a board certified orthopedic sports medicine PT and certified strength and conditioning specialist who prided myself on fixing each one of my patients, but I couldn’t even fix my own body!

 

Can you relate to this situation?  You probably didn’t have the Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy (PHT) pain like I did, but you may have had IT band syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, Achilles Tendinitis, or even Plantar Fasciitis and were told by your doctor to stop running like I was.

 

I know the position you are in, and I know how you feel!

 

I was in the exact same position as you and I managed to figure it out.  After googling like crazy trying to fix this pain in my butt so I could be able to run and sit for my commute into work, I managed to start running and was able to get stronger and now I am in a better position (and better state of mind).

 

I am going to share exactly what I found when I searched google and what made me change my outlook on how I train as a runner!  I am going to explain to you what I did to get out of my bleak situation…

 

I figured something out that changed everything!

 

Duane reaches an epiphany!

 

This was certainly a moment in my life that was one of my low points but now I am here to share with you what I found when I googled my proximal hamstring tendinopathy injury and how I overcame it and got back to running. 

Just like when we as first-time parents overcame rocking our babies to sleep every single time when they were due for a nap… we had an epiphany and soon realized that self-soothing and crying would be best in the long run to keep us parents sane (despite how painful it was to hear them cry…)

My hamstring injury was similar in the fact that what I did in the beginning to try and fix it (now looking back was quite stupid) and I soon learned that this running related injury was very different!

It was unique from any other injury I had learned about in physical therapy school and not the same as the other injuries I helped many adults work through who were not runners.

 

I learned that one of the worst things you can do for this injury is stretch the hamstring muscle! 

 

Which is quite counterintuitive because it just feels tight, and your instinct is to stretch it just like my instinct was to rock my first daughter Olivia for a nap each and every time (until I was literally doing it for an hour before she fell asleep finally)

I also learned that this condition is quite common in distance runners who are training for a half marathon or a marathon!

I also learned that hamstring loading with strengthening was key and once I changed my plan of attack, I suddenly was able to run again and go visit my family in Long Island because I could sit!

I was back to running and was even able to finish my first half marathon (Cheshire Half) with a respectable time of 1:36:59 in 2013.  Here is the picture to prove it!

 

Duane, Olivia, and Gabby at the Cheshire Half Marathon

 

When I finished this race, 2 years into my adult onset running journey…

I finally called myself a “runner”


Like a lot of the members in our Healthy Runner Coaching Program who don’t identify as a “runner” but then go on to crush 5k’s, half marathons, and marathons!

I thought I had it made and figured out…

Or did I?…

 

The secret that led to my fastest half marathons and my first marathon…

Remember how everything changed for me when I started strengthening to get over my injury (and stopped stretching).

April 2013, two years into my adult onset running journey I was able to finally acknowledge that I was a “runner” when I finished my first half marathon.

But, there are some amazing hidden benefits to adding in strength training for running.


During the next 4 years, I went on to run faster and faster by racking up half marathon PR’s like they were going out of style!

 

 

I want to be completely honest with you, it was not all roses in the beginning because every time I tried to run faster during my training, I got another injury! 

I got runners knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome)…

I got posterior tibial tendonitis….

I got plantar fasciitis

I got achilles tendonitis

 
The good thing is by being a PT who helped my patients get out of this type of pain, I was able to treat myself initially…

BUT the secret that kept all these common running injuries from coming back is the secret I want to share with you so you can stay active, stay healthy, and just keep running without having to be told to stop running by your doctor!

 
You want to know the secret I learned?
 
Runners are athletes and runners are different than the ordinary person who gets hamstring pain, knee pain, or foot pain that I was seeing in my PT clinic.
 
Runners need to TRAIN in order to RUN!
 
Let me say that again for the folks in the back…Runners MUST train (IN ORDER TO) run! 

…NOT run as their only form of training (exercise)
 
What do I mean by that?

Runners need to…

 

1.     Strength train

 

2.     Train on 1 leg

 

3.     Train with jumps (plyometrics)

 

4.     Train SMART with proper progression


Once I started implementing these principles into my training, the injuries started going away and stopped coming back which led to these results…

 

I was able to get a Hartford Half PR of 1:33:56 in 2015…

Then I was able to run longer by running my first marathon in 2017 at Hartford!

 

Then I lost my mom to COVID…

My name is Duane Scotti and I take great pride in sharing my last name with you as I do every single day professionally and publicly through this platform and on the Healthy Runner podcast.  The reason I do this is because I decided to change my last name going through physical therapy school because of the woman I was lucky enough to have in my life for 41 years.  I am grateful for having my mom as a part of my life every single one of those years. 
 
On January 26, 2021, my mom (Janice Scotti) lost a 2 week battle with COVID just weeks before the vaccine was approved and available. 
 
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her as her legacy lives on through her love of family and friends.
 
This is going to be a very difficult for me to share because I am going to get very personal with you today.
 
Growing up without a father at home, my mom was a single mother raising 3 children working full time overnight and then going to college during the day (while we were in school), and she instilled in me when I was very young to express myself and to never hold anything back.
 
In her honor, I wanted to share with you “my why” and why I am truly living my passion today serving the running community through education whether it is through our 1:1 signature coaching program, weekly YouTube videos, or podcast episodes.

 

Duane and his mom at his Master’s PT graduation

 

I am on a mission to empower runners to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running just like my mom was on a mission to get her college degree so we could follow in her footsteps and go to college and make a difference in this world (hence why I wanted to change my last name to my mom’s maiden name so I can carry on the Scotti legacy when I graduated college).
 
On January 26, 2021, my life changed forever after my mom became our guardian angel in heaven. 
 
This was heartbreaking to say the least that the only parent I had and the one grandparent my girls had who was also their best friend and attended all their volleyball games, concerts, dance recitals, and gymnastics competitions would not be here to witness them grow up to be the amazing young ladies they are becoming.
 
So, I am going to be talking about a comeback story and share with you my story on how my mom is the reason I am here doing this with you today and able to follow my passion and serve our running community. 
 
Remember up above when I mentioned that I started training (IN ORDER TO) run and then I got stronger, faster, and was able to run consistently without getting injured anymore?
 
I just needed to share what I was learning with other runners who I was treating in clinic after they got injured.
 
However, the traditional medical model did not allow me to treat these runners in ways that I know they deserved to be treated and prevent injuries.

Unfortunately, insurance would only pay for services when they were broken and “injured”
 
I knew there was a better way to prevent these injuries because I had put the strategies to the test with my own training.  So, in 2017, I decided to open my own “side hustle” clinic and that is when Spark Physical Therapy, LLC was born!
 
Initially, I was only helping my local running community in Connecticut but when COVID hit, my business became fully virtual, and I was helping runners all over the world from Scotland to Australia and throughout the US whether it was Hawaii, Texas, Ohio, Utah, Florida, or Vermont!  
 
A big reason for this was the growth of my YouTube channel and our Healthy Runner Podcast and Facebook Community!  Through these platforms, I was sharing weekly tips, tricks, exercises, and training principles to help runners stay healthy so they can continue getting in those mental clearing runs so we as runners can show up better for the people that matter most in our life.
 
Bringing it back to the loss of my mom and the stress during the peak of COVID and needing to totally pivot my business, running was the one constant in my life that I could depend upon.  It was always there for me to clear my head while grieving the loss of my mom.  The strength training (in order to) run was always there for me to get those endorphins going all while making me a stronger, and more resilient runner.
 
Today, I do what I do living my passion at Spark Healthy Runner to show my girls that anything is possible and that they can have as little or as big of an impact on the world when they grow up.

 

Here is a picture of “my why”

 

Click here to listen to the podcast episode I dedicated to my mom and read the eulogy I shared with my family and friends to learn more about the amazing woman behind the man I am today.

 

Duane and his mom dancing at his wedding day

 

The 1 thing we dominate beyond great running health content…[Invite]

Are you a frustrated runner trying to get out of the injury cycle?…

or

Are you a dedicated runner who consistently puts in the time training but you aren’t getting any faster?…

 

The Solution You Have Been Waiting For is Now Enrolling for Limited Spots…

 

The one thing we do really well at Spark Healthy Runner (besides providing awesome running health content with weekly videos and podcast episodes) is dominate the run coaching market space!  I am proud to say we offer 5 star rated coaching services for our clients because we deliver the results they deserve whether it is getting rid of their stubborn running injury or taking their running to the next level without having to suffer the consequences of running their body in the ground and taking time away from running before or after their big race to “rehab”.

 

One of the worst feelings is not being able to get in your mental clearing runs due to an injury or pain.

 

Meet Katja!  She is one of our Healthy Runner clients who shared her experience on what on what it was like to get guidance, support and community to finally say bye to achilles tendinitis and make her marathon dream a reality at the Chicago Marathon.  Click here for short video.

 

How do we add a Spark to your training?

 

We help you train consistently with the proper support and structure to get stronger and run faster so you can enjoy lifelong injury free running!

 

We have a 4 month 1:1 hyper-focused deep dive into getting your run and strength training structured for you:

 

Provide clarity on where your running and health are right now so you can have the focus and direction you need!

 

Set clear targets for how to structure your run and strength training during the next 4 months

 

Create a personalized easy to follow plan tailored to your unique needs and busy life for exactly what you will do to hit that target.

 

4 months of 1:1 Run & Strength Training, Coaching AND Accountability:

 

✅ Strategic 1:1 deep dive coaching (monthly)

 

✅ Focused feedback on your training (weekly)

 

✅ Strength program for running resource Library (lifetime access)

 

✅ Online personalized structured run and strength plan (Final Surge training calendar)

 

✅ Community of like-minded runners

 

✅ Access to our made up of certified running coaches, a physical therapist, a registered dietitian, an athletic trainer, and personal trainers and fitness instructors.

 

If you want to be eligible for our limited monthly availability…

 

Click here to meet the team!

 

 

 

Run Strong & Healthy,
Duane

 

PS- Due to the high continuation rate with our clients, we are only able to onboard 8 new runners per month so be sure to schedule your call today to see if you are a good fit to join our team while spots are available!

 

Connect with Dr. Duane

 

Dr. Duane Scotti, DPT, PhD, OCS is a running physical therapist, run coach, host of the Healthy Runner podcast, and founder of Spark Healthy Runner and has been a leader in the rehab and running community for 20+ years.

 

Duane initially started running as an adult, wanting to add some cardio to his gym sessions. After having a hip surgery, his doctor advised him to get off the treadmill and run outside. Without having fully recovered, Duane suffered a running-related hamstring tendon injury and many others as a novice runner.

 

As a coach, he has guided thousands of athletes back to running, finishing their first marathon, crushing a personal best, and even the elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time.

 

He is truly living his passion educating the running community that they don’t need to stop running to get over a running injury.  Through his signature 1:1 coaching program, weekly videos, and podcast episodes, he empowers runners to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running.  Dr. Duane truly believes that anyone can run and that all runners should be treated differently when recovering from an injury.  He is on a mission to change the traditional thinking that running causes “overuse injuries” or “your body is just not meant to run” and you must “take a break” to get better.  Through strength and run specific training you can grow a strong mind, strong body, and just keep running!

 

Duane received his Bachelor of Health Science degree and Master of Physical Therapy degree from Quinnipiac University in 2001 and 2003. He then went on to receive a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2017. Duane is a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Certified Mulligan Practitioner, certified in dry needling and has advanced training in spinal manipulation and rehabilitation for runners.

 

As an athlete, Duane is an adult-onset runner, avid half marathoner, and enjoys challenging himself to learn and grow in his personal running journey!

 

A native New Yorker from Long Island, Duane currently lives in Cheshire, Connecticut with his wife Deb and his two teenage daughters who are competitive volleyball players.  They all love to explore new beaches along the east coast.

 

 

 

Related Resources:

 

 

Get weekly running tips on the Healthy Runner Podcast…available wherever you get your podcasts!

 

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You can teach an old dog new tricks!!!  I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach.  I am soooo glad I made the investment in me!  I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier!  The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching.  I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong.  I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot!  The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally.  I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age.  Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!

Gina J.

My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.

I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.

I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!

Katja L.

Wanting to run more consistently, and to increase my long run distance and total weekly mileage, I was concerned about hip pain due to hip alignment issues. This is an issue I had when I trained for my first half marathon several years ago. Having listened to the Healthy Runner podcast for the past couple years, I knew Duane Scotti could help. I signed up for the four-month strength and running training program and am extremely happy with the results.

The program Duane and Coach Whitney developed for me was exactly what I needed. It was tailored to my needs and to my target race. Coach Whitney was very helpful, and with the biweekly coaching calls, we were able to fine tune the program based off my performance and feedback.

At the end of the program, I completed a 10K trail race feeling strong and pain free.

I highly recommend Duane Scotti and the Healthy Runner training programs.

Roger S.

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