Pee Where You Must & Other Life Lessons Learned from Running 10 Miles

On Sunday, I ran 10 miles without stopping, save for a quick pee on the bushes surrounding the Kennedy Center (more on that later). Yes, this Michael James Barber and all 235 pounds of me ran an average pace of 10:45 per mile for almost two solid hours in the Cherry Blossom 10 Mi Race.

If you know me at all, this was a monumental task. I have never, ever been remotely athletic minus a few years of collegiate rugby. Even then, getting through 90 minutes of play was a feat unto itself. The idea of running 10 miles was simply daunting. Even three days later, I’m still figuring out how exactly this all went down. So, I figured I would impart a little knowledge gained over the last few months.

1. Pee Where You Must

WARNING: TMI forthcoming. If you know me well, you have likely heard my nervous-induced need to pee. No matter how many client pitches, conference panels, or presentations, I always have a ridiculous urge to piss my pants for at least the first couple slides of any presentation. This run was no different. To make matters worse, I drank gallons of water during the days preceding the race. Come mile three, I was frantically looking for a port-o-potty and none were to be found.

My face must have given me away because my sister asked me what was wrong. I told her. In true marathoner style, she very simply stated, “At the next water station, just throw water all over yourself and pee.” Well, we all know that was never going to happen. Thankfully I was saved by a mass of bushes surrounding the Kennedy Center.

My point here is this: Stuff is bound to happen when you are doing something that scares the bejesus out of you. Figure out how to solve the problem and keep moving.

2. The Training Is the Hard Part

From the beginning, my sister and other friends who are runners told me the same thing. The training will be the hardest part. If you stick to your training schedule, the run is the reward and should be the easiest part of the whole journey. Today, I couldn’t agree with them more.

The last three months I’ve logged some 150 miles of training. Between those miles, I’ve been on the road for 52+ days, visited 18 cities, and flown more than 30,000 miles. Without a doubt, I can tell you the hardest part of this entire experience has been lugging around running clothes and shoes – size 13 running shoes take up a ton of bag space – and figuring out when to train between client meetings and dinners.

Some people are born with the innate ability to be able to do amazing things, but most aren’t. In my case, running has never been my forte and probably never will no matter how much more I train. But, and this is is the big “BUT”, you have to succeed in your every day battles to win the war. For me, the battles were training, and the war was the run. In life, I think this scenario couldn’t be more true. You get out, what you put in.

Put in crap, you get crap. Put in the work, and you’ll be rewarded.

4. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

For years, I told myself I couldn’t run more than a mile or two or that I couldn’t lose weight or that I couldn’t get {insert whatever here} done. If there is anything this run and some other recent accomplishments have reinforced for me, is that you can do anything you set your mind to and probably more. The key is to figure out what motivates you and why.

For me, that motivation came from a few places. My Dad has Multiple Sclerosis and can’t run.  So, I ran for him. I’ve been overweight most of my life, have crazy allergies and asthema, and you could never call me an athlete. So, it was time to figure out a way to lose a few pounds, stop making excuses as to why I couldn’t work out, and find my inner athlete, even if that was only a 10:45 minute/mile athlete.

5. It Takes a Village

I would be remiss not to thank a few people who helped me get through those 20,000+ steps . To my sister, Dr. Barber, who challenged me to do something I didn’t think was possible and, above all, ran every step of the way with me. To our Mum for travelling across the country to cheer us on. To my running partner and brother-in-law, Mikey, for running countless “slow” miles with me even though we both know you wanted to run faster. To my Dad for being the motivation to put one step in front of the other every day. Thanks to the Barry’s ladies and my trainer, Storm, for helping me get into running shape and always being there to cheer me on. To my family of coworkers at Cohn, thanks for the countless emails and texts of tips and support.

Last and most importantly, thanks to the Mrs. for always putting up with my crazy training/travel schedule the last few months and loving me for me every moment of the last eight years.

I realize some people won’t have the support system that I have, but you’ve gotta find it. There are countless training groups associated with most official runs/bikes/hikes etc. Find something, someone, or a group of people that will help you along the way.

So, what’s next? Maybe a half-marathon? Time will tell, but at least I don’t have any more excuses.

Cherry Blossom Finish Line


  1. I couldn’t agree with this list more! I just ran my first marathon a few weeks ago, and I’m amazed the lessons I learned and the applicability to my work and person life.

    Excellent post, thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Hi, Mr. Barber. Pardon my misuse-of-a-blog-comments-box; I can’t uncover an email address for you, so I’m getting creative. I represent MarketingProfs University, a training and education company serving the marketing profession (you may know of our CCO, Ann Handley?). I’m planning a new training course on the broad topic of email marketing, and wanted to introduce myself to see if you might have the interest and availability in participating in the course by developing one of the training classes. Your presentation on email marketing trends is a great base for the 60-minute keynote class I’m currently programming (, set to publish in December. Confirmed speakers include some from Oracle, Act-On, Emma, and MadMimi. The class is virtual (pre-recorded), broadcast to a live online audience; playback is immediately followed with 30-minutes of Q&A hosted by a moderator.

    Should you like to learn more, I can be reached at Details including a timeline and modest honorarium are available. I very much hope you find this opportunity a good match!

    Thank you, Heather