Why I Quit My Job: Embracing Change and Pursuing My Passion

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us”


After 19 years working for the University in either a part time faculty role or as Clinical Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, I did it!  I pushed out of my comfort zone and decided to quit my 9-5 job to pursue my passion within the running community.  


In this blog, I will share with you why I decided to make this very difficult decision and some very exciting news on what is next for you, the runner within our community!



Listen to the Podcast Episode during your next run!



Watch the LIVE video version of this episode below on YouTube!

Duane Scotti, The Professor

19 years…1200+ PT students…it’s been a great journey at Quinnipiac University


I have had the pleasure of helping to shape the next generation of physical therapists on a part time basis for 10 years and as a full time professor for the past 9 years.



I take great pride in making sure our students are “clinic ready” and I am so proud of my former students accomplishments as professionals making a difference in this world


Career trajectory is like real estate:  Making a move yesterday would have been best, today is good, tomorrow might be too late.  


If you see an opportunity before it has come into focus for the masses, make your move.  Do it scared, but do it now.  The future rewards the brave!


That is why I have decided to spend 100% of my time and effort on my passion in serving the running community.


The Buddha once said “The greatest mistake is you think you have time” and this really came into my mindset since I lost my mom to COVID over 3 years ago now the month before the vaccine came out.  


Change can be difficult and I have been having highs and lows going through this decision making process and wrapping up my last semester teaching. 


However, change can promote health, longevity, and growth!


“The only courage you ever need is the courage to fulfill the dreams of your own life”


and that is what I am finally doing!


Health and Fitness Journey


I have loved health and fitness for as long as I can remember.


First, it was as a dancer and learning how to lift weights so I could get stronger to fling girls around and do cool partnering lifts (think dirty dancing)


Then I became a strength and conditioning specialist and worked at Bally Total Fitness as a personal trainer helping people lose weight and get fit.  


Then I became a physical therapist and fell in love with helping athletes recover from injuries and surgery to get back to the sports they loved!


Then I became a full time faculty member and taught the next generation of PT’s how to help their future patients overcome musculoskeletal pain and live healthier lives.



Then I became an entrepreneur to bridge the gap between healthcare and fitness to promote true health, wellness and prevention vs. the (very broken) sick-care model.


As I sat in my home during quarantine when my college students were sent home for the last 7 weeks of the spring semester and my small private practice shut down for 6 weeks, I realized that while many things in life come and go, my love for health and fitness and my desire to become an entrepreneur were ever-present forces.


I decided to create my first ever online program “Spark Fitness” which was live online zoom total body workouts for runners that they could do in the comfort of their own homes.   


I had my bucket of bricks as my kettlebell and my maul ax as my dumbbell and my stability ball and mini band.  


I started chipping away at creating content online and building a coaching service for the running community.



The business was growing beyond myself in that our coaching team was now helping runners 1:1 like I was after we launched our signature healthy runner coaching program in fall of 2021.  


Also occurring at the same time, after 6 years working full time at the University, I was promoted to Associate level professor.  



This of course requires about 40 hours of compiling everything you did for the past 6 years…scholarship, service, and copious amounts of teaching resources (evidence) of PowerPoints, handouts, learning activities and then reflecting on all of your course evaluations from faculty and students for the past 6 years.  


February 2022….

This is when I was at the lowest point in my career journey…



I ended up in the back of an ambulance getting rushed to the Chest pain center at Yale ER because the walk-in clinic thought I was having a heart attack.  My pulse was racing and my chest felt like it was going to pop out of my chest.  I have a strong family history of heart disease with my uncle having a heart attack in his 30’s and my grandfather having a pacemaker and then passing away from a heart attack as well.  


After a full cardiac workup for a day in the hospital (which included a cardiac stress test running on a treadmill btw I nailed that) I was given a clean bill of health for the old ticker!  


Turns out I had a panic attack just from being fried burning the candle at both ends or all 3 ends (faculty, business, and family)


I knew I needed to find out how I could do things differently juggling both full time academia and running a growing business while still being a present dad for my girls.


This has been a challenge these past two years and I am going to be fully transparent about that.  This was a huge reason why I knew something had to give not only for my physical health but also my mental health… 


Spark Healthy Runner Growth


Today, Spark Healthy Runner is growing and going strong and has produced 230 podcast episodes, 583 YouTube videos, 200+ blog posts, 10 downloadable free e-books for runners.


We have 8 active team members and have helped hundreds of runners through our online programs and coaching services.  


The fact that I am actively pursuing my childhood dream in helping people live healthier and more fit lives through running is truly incredible!


It’s challenging to be an entrepreneur but I wouldn’t give it up for anything, not even the full time physical therapy faculty job I’ve loved so much.  


Deciding to leave the position I sacrificed so much (time and resources) going back to school after being a PT for 8 years to get a PhD and DPT degree was extremely painful. (For the first time these degrees behind me are not in my office but now in my home office).  Since the financial burden was so great, I figured these 4 pieces of paper deserved to be in at least one episode on my channel!


However, staying with the “safe” job, I wouldn’t be able to continue to do this and have the impact I feel compelled to have within the running community.  


And doing this, to me, is living my life to the fullest!


Spark Physical Therapy, not only survived the pandemic but it thrived and blossomed into Spark Healthy Runner.  


Full Time Entrepreneur


This transition from full time faculty member to full time entrepreneur means more change and uncertainty but I realize that my identity is not tied down to my role as a physical therapist or physical therapy professor and this mindset will allow me to move forward embracing change with ruggedness and flexibility.  (Thank you Brad Stalburg and your Master of Change book)


Innovation, creativity and my passion for helping others live stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling lives makes up my identity.  


These attributes are central to my being and can never be taken away (no matter what title or job I have)


Having the opportunity to do what I do today makes me think that I bought dirt!  (come on you know the Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan song)


“Do what you love and call it work”


I climbed that clinical ladder, got the certifications, got the terminal degree to get the job for prestige and status but that being didn’t bring me full happiness…



Today, I can honestly say that I am doing what my passion is and truly love it!  After many months if not years of thinking about this career decision, I am at peace with it.


So what’s next you may be wondering?


Wouldn’t it be amazing to create a community of our own?


Healthy Runner Academy



Healthy Runner “ACADEMY” Powered by Spark!



Let’s be real here — Improving as an adult runner can be overwhelming and frustrating at times.   I understand the constant struggle of searching for the best run plans, strength exercises, or foods to eat that actually make a difference and still coming up short each time. Or worse, finding a training plan that brought you a new shiny PR but you have to take a break from running because you’re injured or burned out.


There are six parts of your running journey that need to be optimized so you can run strong and last long!  These are mindset, strength training, run plan, nutrition, recovery, and race strategy.


If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you have heard this before!


It got me thinking….Maybe we can create something for our Healthy Runner community!


Right now it’s just an idea, I haven’t created anything yet but I want to share with you the vision of Healthy Runner Academy Powered by Spark!




Healthy Runner Academy is going to be created to fill a gap often found in traditional run plans and rehab programs.  Instead of following a training plan that only focuses on running or waiting to go to rehab for your next injury, you can access all the education and exercises you need to start growing in your running journey so you’ll not only feel more confident in getting stronger and faster but you’ll stay healthy and enjoy the process of running again! 


Running doesn’t need to suck and it doesn’t need to be painful, Healthy Runner Academy is going to be created to change that — Offering a supportive community, accountability, and tools for progress in executing the six key parts of your running journey all in one place.


I don’t know if this idea is of interest to you but if it is…I want to invite you to come join me as a founding member.


As a founding member you will have direct access to me especially in the beginning because it’s likely to be a small group of us and I want your input, I want your feedback, in fact YOU are going to help shape the vision for what Healthy Runner Academy becomes through that interaction and through that feedback.


More than that, I want to extend an absolutely fantastic deal for you.  If you join me as a founding member, you will get our founding member pricing and when we launch this to the general public, we are immediately raising the price but your price will forever stay locked in at the low founding member price.


Click this link to join as a founding member.  This founding member enrollment will only last for 4 days because I need to get going on creating the members area and I need your feedback.  So the doors will open for our founding member pricing on May 20th and close on the 23rd.  So get in while you can.  If you are reading  this after the May 23rd, then I am sorry you missed the founding member opportunity but you can still join this amazing membership opportunity using the same link.


I’m so excited for you to join us!



In this blog, I shared with you why I decided to step away from my faculty position to pursue my dreams as a full time entrepreneur within the running community.


I hope this provided you with a bit of context and a peek behind the scenes of what I have been working through personally these past few years that you probably didn’t know about me.


“True joy is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming ourselves” Fromm


If you are one of the 1200+ students I had the pleasure of working with, I want you to know that it gave me such joy to see you flourish into a DPT professional heading out into the clinic and I thank you for the opportunity you gave me.  I will forever treasure the 19 years I spent at Quinnipiac with fond memories full of gratitude. 




I want to wrap this up with a quote that my PT students included in the memory book they gave me on my final days at the University.



“I am not the same person I was last year or the year before. And while that might seem scary because people stop recognizing me for who I once was, I remember that who I am changing into now is someone I always dreamed of.” – Jennae Cecelia


Yours in health,





Get my full personal running story here


There are six parts of your running journey that need to be optimized so you can run strong and last long! Learn them here

Want to work with our team with structured strength, recovery, nutrition, and run plan with full support and accountability to reach your highest potential for your running goal? Book a call and learn more about Healthy Runner coaching here 


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.




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


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“I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude towards Duane Scotti and the Spark Healthy Runner program. When I started working with Duane, I had been dealing with chronic shin splints/posterior tibialis tendinitis for almost a year.

I had worked with multiple other coaches and physical therapists with little success and was at the point of almost giving up on my love for running. Duane is so kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable as both a physical therapist and running coach. Our first virtual meeting lasted two hours because he was so meticulous in his assessment. His strength and running program is progressive and created so that you can continue to build strength and mileage as you heal. His strength program is unique, effective, and fun.

Additionally, his warm-up routine is awesome and includes drills that over time have made me a more efficient runner. His training platform is easy to use, and he is always readily available to chat when problems or questions arise.

Over four months of working with Duane, I have built back to five days a week of running and am almost back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and long run distance. Whenever I have flare ups or setbacks, Duane reassures me and makes necessary adjustments so that I can continue to progress in my running journey. I have had so much success with him so far that I have signed on for four more months so that he can help me to continue getting stronger as I train for the Dopey challenge in Disney World.

If you are struggling with a running injury and are feeling hopeless, you have to reach out to Duane Scotti. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work, but with Duane by your side, you will be able to achieve your goals and more. Thank you Spark Healthy Runner for bringing the spark back to my running!”

Dipti Pandya

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.

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