All grit. That’s how we’d describe Brian Reynolds, a 29 year old runner who is redefining how double below the knee amputees participate in marathons. He currently holds the Chicago Marathon World Record, Para-Championship World Record, and is chasing a goal of a sub-three hour marathon - something no double below the knee amputee runner has ever accomplished. To understand where he is now, we wanted to know more about where he came from. We caught up with him about his story, his approach to his sport, and the training edge he’s gained as a result of recently discovering PR Lotion.
When Reynolds was four year old, he lost both of his legs below the knee due to a rare bacterial infection. As a result, Reynolds spent most of his life trying to avoid activities that require a lot of movement. He first found athletic success in college when he started powerlifting, bench press, and deadlift. By age 23, Reynolds had become such an adept powerlifter that he was competing with the able-bodied. This strength training, mentally and physically, set the foundation for his remarkable endurance career.
When he was 24, Reynolds joined a hiking club to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma. These hikes not only required him to move far distances that he’d never done before, but also unlocked a love of moving outside. This inspired him to try running.
Reynolds intro to running was slow but methodical. When he first started running, he didn’t have the lower body strength needed to run. He started by running one minute per week, which eventually built him up to his first 10-minute mile after 10 weeks. Slow and steady, he built the base until running first 5k in November of 2013, and then set a goal to run a marathon the following year. In 2014, with a time of four and a half hours, this goal was achieved.
With his first marathon in the rearview mirror, he returned to his weight lifting roots, hired a coach, and was laser-focused on improving his time. Years later at his second marathon, he saw over an hour improvement from his first race. Reynolds says that this was the tipping point where he realized he was capable of more. Since then, he set a new double below the knee amputee world record at the 2017 Chicago Marathon with a time of 3:06:3, and in 2018, despite tripping during the race and getting a concussion, he bested his own record in Chicago with a time of 3:03:22.
One of Reynolds most memorable races was when he represented Team USA at 2018 Para Athletics World Cup. Because it was a Para-Championship event, they started him 50 minutes early. In addition to the early start, he was the only runner in that heat, which put him alone for a significant portion of the race. “It was miserable” said Reynolds. But he powered through, and found the finish line with another World Record.
The Para-Championship event and his streak of world records confirms the undeniable: Reynolds is in a league of his own. Few other double below the knee amputees are running as fast as Reynolds. Since he is running faster and harder than almost all other amputees he is writing his own book on how to train efficiently with prosthetic legs.
Physically, he is mostly limited by having no calf muscles. This causes the muscles in his legs to be fatigued, sore and tight. It also creates an inability to predict good days and bad days, leading to an inconsistent training regimen because of the need for extended recovery periods. Earlier this year, he started using PR Lotion to address soreness and consistency.
“I’ve been using PR Lotion for four months now, and I haven’t had a single bad day AT ALL!” said Reynolds. “I’ve been able to double my training load and intensity. I’m now running 70 miles per week, whereas before, I was limited to around 35.”
What’s next for Reynolds? He was training for the California International Marathon with the hopes of running under three hours, the first time ever for him, and for any double below the knee amputee. With his best time ever to date of 3:03:22, that would mean shaving off over three minutes.
“I have an extremely audacious goal for CIM. I not only want to shave three minutes off my previous time, I want to smash the three hour barrier and leave it in the dust. It is scary but if your dreams don't scare you than they are not big enough. I want to push myself as far as I can physically and mentally." said Reynolds.
Due to some technical difficulties with his prosthetics, Reynolds is no longer going to be running in CIS. He is going to continue his training and chasing his dreams of running a sub 3-hour marathon. Now a goal he has for Spring 2020. Follow along on his journey @brianreynoldsrunner.