Kill Hill and the Rule of Three

I’m the middle child of a family of three. I have three children myself.

IMG_9701While running the other day, I realized I like the number three.

I use it often.

Three blue bottles grouped together in my window sill, three little pine trees clustered in the back garden, three course meals, three shots of espresso in my Cappuccino.


Three desserts, so much better than just one!


And in counting, sometimes almost threatening to my kids: “You’d better get yourself over here in three seconds. One….Two…”(although I barely ever have to use the Three), and other times playful: “Let’s see if you can pick your pencils up in one…..two…three counts!”


But the best is the Rule of Three.

When my children were younger and didn’t want to try their new-to-them food, I would divide it in three parts. One part had to be eating, no discussion. It was the ‘Try-bite’. The second and third part were optional, but worth to try, because how can you really try something new when you just eat a third of it?

I am using the Rule of Three a lot. My favorite use of the Rule of Three is while running Kill Hill.

This is a rather steep and rather long hill close to my street. No matter where I go running from home, I can’t really avoid this one.

At first this hill was daunting to me. “I’ll never be able to run this thing.” And I would walk it.

But then I noticed some landmarks next to the road, roughly dividing the hill in three sections. Section one: from the foot of the hill till the reflector sign. Section two runs till the big tree and section three till the traffic sign next to it, where the hill finally flattens out.

“What if I try running just one third next time?” And so I did.

And then of course I plowed on to do the second section too.

Because that is the power of the Rule of Three: once you do one and persevere in doing the second, you have already done more than half (therefore making it much more successful than a Rule of Four, where after doing two parts, you only half way there and we all know that when you reach a half way point it doesn’t matter if you go on or go back, that is the same.) When you persist and run that second part, eat that second bite, you are past the ‘going back point’ and that is already victory. Might as well do that last part!

That’s how I mastered ‘Kill Hill’. I also use it for my half marathon training. When you divide a difficult task into three (imaginary) pieces, it will become a lot less daunting.


Currently I am sitting in a Concord bus, on my way to Logan Airport for a trip to the Netherlands. I know this will be a long sit: it takes about 5.5 hours to get there. But there is WiFi and a toilet and comfortable seats. And when you divide the bus ride in three parts, it will be over before you know it. First stop Augusta: a good point to see if the bus stays this quiet or if more people will board than depart. Second stop Portland, where I will have to switch buses. Good chance to stretch the legs. And the third part is the airport. All together the three pieces of bus ride will form leg one of my trip. And this leg should be fine. Leg 2 will be the flight from Boston to London. Most of that will happen in the night so I am planning on sleeping during that part. The last leg is the hardest: I know I will be tired, I am not sure if I can make my connecting flight to Amsterdam and when my feet touch Dutch soil I still have to take  a train north. But I know that I am way past my half way point by then. I did already 66 %, so that 33% should be fairly easy. The Rule of Three. It works like a charm (because, isn’t that an expression: three times is a charm?!)



Edith Schriever

About Edith Schriever

I am a Maine-igrant from the Netherlands. While my scientist husband fell in love with the beautiful research institute here, I fell in love with Mount Desert Island. Mountains, ocean, wild life, peace and quiet! A culture change? Yes, a bit. Americans are not at all like the Jerry Springer audience I saw on TV when living in the Netherlands, well, at least not everyone. Portions are big and toilets small and low; I have learned to embrace the cultural differences.