The 3/4 Rule: When Reaching Your Goals Starts to Suck


Next Sunday, I'm running the Scotiabank Montreal Half Marathon.

I'm starting to get excited now, but a week or two ago I was ready to lay on the ground and admit total indifference.

I blame the 3/4 Rule. 

The idea that 75% of the way through something—a training schedule, an actual race, a Tom Cruise movie—is when the going gets tough. Really tough. Like maybe-this-was-a-bad-idea-is-it-too-late-to-quit?

It happened during my last half marathon, around the 16th kilometre. Legs losing steam, sun blazing above, I started questioning why had I willingly paid money to put myself through this? But by the time I crossed the finish line, my doubt had totally dissolved. Faith in my own legs was restored. I loved running again. But... 

This isn't an isolated phenomenon.

Another example: I ran the Hypothermic Half 10 km race in March and got the most intense side stitch I've ever felt—3/4 of the way through. Then, weeks 7-9 of this training for this upcoming half marathon felt like a senseless, exhausting struggle. I'm not the only one it happens to either. My friend and fellow runner Melissa Gonzalez, (who I wrote about last week), hit the 3/4 wall during her first marathon a few weeks ago. It's REAL.


Basically, 75% is No Man's Land.

At the beginning of something, you have the exciting boost of the start. At 50%, you can channel your inner Bon Jovi—being half way there is a much-needed lift. Then you straggle into the 3/4 desert. You're close but you're not quite at the finishing stretch. It starts to hurt.

The good news is that once you manage to muscle your way through this point, you get end-game adrenaline. 

Maybe find yourself nodding along with agreement to this. Maybe you think I'm crazier than Tom Cruise leaping onto Oprah's couch. Either way, you didn't come 3/4 of the way through this blog to leave without a satisfying conclusion.

So how do we push through the 3/4 wall?

Personally, I believe that the trick is making what's old new again. I'll use training as my example.

• Change it up. Tweak the routine. Instead of using my usual routes, I mapped some new ones with Runkeeper—same distance, different view! (Even running the same route in the opposite direction is helpful!) I downloaded new podcasts. I found some new parks to run in.

• Reward yourself. Often if I'm having trouble getting motivated for a run, I'll promise to cook myself something I've been craving for dinner that night, or allow myself an extra episode or two of whatever I'm watching at the time. Bartering works!

• Slack, please! It's key to recognize that you have already come SO far. I could quit if I wanted to, but I've put in more than 50% of the effort. Might as well knuckle down and finish... right?

Get recruiting. Find someone else who has a SIMILAR goal and team up with them for awhile. Or just recruit someone to join you along for an attempt! 

So next time you find yourself lagging in goals, try using these tips to help you take on your next goal, destroy the 3/4 wall, and cross that finish line! Whether it's a race or the credits to Mission Impossible 15.

Do you think the 3/4 Rule exists? How do you stay motivated when struggling to achieve your goals?

Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the comments below!