Lenin Konthoujam

Pandemic turned Lenin Konthoujam into a life-long runner

In the spring of 2020, Lenin Konthoujam’s life revolved around gyms. He had recently left a job at a Motion Fitness facility in Saskatoon and was training for his first powerlifting competition.

So when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly forced gyms to close, Konthoujam felt lost. He got gym equipment for his home, but couldn’t find the motivation to use it. He would sleep most of the day.

“I was, at a point, very upset and very disappointed,” Konthoujam recalls. “And then I was like: ‘What should I do?’ And I had a pair of Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 (shoes) so I put them on and I started running. I had no idea about running. It was my first time and it was so, so hard.”

Konthoujam, now 27, had been a gym rat for almost a decade. He started working out regularly after graduating high school in an effort to improve his physique, but grew committed to the gym because of the community he found there and his desire to push his limits and compete.

In his early gym-going days, Konthoujam jogged to and from the gym. But by the time he laced up his Nikes in the spring of 2020, it had been years since he’d run.

Lenin Konthoujam at the 2022 BMO Vancouver Marathon.
Lenin Konthoujam at the 2022 BMO Vancouver Marathon.

“It was harder than I would have imagined,” Konthoujam says. “I always thought, you know, running — just put on shoes, just run, it’s not a big thing … but when I started I saw this is definitely not something that you just put on your shoes and run.”

Konthoujam began asking his friends and scouring the internet for running advice and soon was inundated with online ads for virtual races. After his friend told him it was too early to think about racing, Konthoujam signed up for a virtual half marathon in May to prove him wrong.

“Why did I keep running? It was more like either I stay in my bed and get depressed or go out, free my mind, do something,” he says.

Konthoujam now has six half marathons and a marathon under his belt. Two of those were virtual and, while good challenges, nothing compared to his first live event: the 2021 Servus Calgary Marathon half, where he ran a 2:10.

Lenin Konthoujam runs the 2022 Saskatchewan Marathon half.
Lenin Konthoujam runs the 2022 Saskatchewan Marathon half.

“It was so much fun because (of) seeing all the people. The endorphin pump was so real,” Konthoujam says.

With regular training, Konthoujam has steadily lowered his half marathon personal best time and recently ran a 1:41 at the Queen City Marathon half.

These days, Konthoujam is back at the gym three days per week, but is still running and continually getting faster. Despite how uncomfortable it was to start, he loves the sport and suspects he’s become a life-long runner. He looks forward to racing frequently and hopes to eventually run all six World Marathon Majors. Already, he’s been accepted to run the 2023 Chicago Marathon.

“At the gym I get to hang out and socialize a little bit … but running, I find myself in my own space,” Konthoujam says. “It’s just like meditation … People talk about the running high and I think that’s the thing I’m getting now.”