The DR Taglines

The taglines for Difficult Run are picked by the DREditors and come from song lyrics. Here’s an inventory of all the past choices, in case you’re curious. (It’s in reverse chronological order, newest first.)

Lost in the dark, I feel like a shadow of myself

February 26, 2019 – ?

Another pick from Walker: “Elevate” by The Winery Dogs. This group was an accidental discovery: one of those YouTube rabbit holes. But it features Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater) on drums, Billy Sheehan (formerly of Mr. Big and Steve Vai) on bass, and Richie Kotzen (formerly of Poison and Mr. Big) on guitar and vocals.

Hell has no room for your crime here

January 5, 2019 – February 26, 2019

This is Walker’s pick and comes from “No World for Tomorrow” by Coheed and Cambria. Walker was lame and never really listened to C&C until recently, but their progressive post-hardcore style mixed with sci-fi lyrics made him a fan.

Wounds from a friend, severe mercy

July 25, 2018 – January 5, 2019

Nathaniel finally stopped being lame and update the tagline. This one comes from Josh Garrels’ song “The Arrow” from his 2015 album, Home. It’s a great song from a great singer. Here are the lyrics in context, where their meaning is not exactly subtle:

How long did I fool myself
Believing I, I didn’t need nobody’s help
A fool trusts in his power and his wealth
Until he’s brought down low
Unto a shadow of himself

The arrow was sent to intervene
It pierced my bones and shook me from my dream
Lord You know exactly what I need
Wounds from a friend, severe mercy

Tearing at the walls in the corners of my mind.

February 7, 2018 – July 25, 2018

This one comes from Walker. He’s been on an anime kick over the last year and this tagline comes from the song “Re:Re:” by Asian Kung Fu Generation, which was the OP song for the series Erased. This particular line is fudged a little and based on a couple English covers. Google translates it as “cried in the corner of my heart.” Other translations read, “I always tear myself up, crying in the corner of my heart.” Either way, the line is dope.

Beautifully struggle every day.

April 12, 2017 – February 7, 2018

This one comes from Walker. The song is “Sparkle” by Radwimps from the amazing anime film Your Name. The tagline comes from the English version, but the video above is the original Japanese. I picked it so that those who haven’t seen the film might be inspired to do so. It’s seriously one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

We couldn’t all be cowboys; some of us are clowns.

October 3, 2016 – April 12, 2017

One of the problems with picking the DR taglines is that the times when I hear a line and think, “That’d be a great tagline” and the times when it’s actually time to pick a new tagline don’t always line up. But if I don’t do it right away, I’ll forget. So, when I heard this line in the Counting Crows song “Goodnight Elisabeth” from their Recovering the Satellites album, I had to update it right away. It was just too perfect. So, sad as I was to bump Lecrae after less than a week, he had to go.

Why? Well, most of the taglines are pretty serious, and it was about time for one that wasn’t.

If I fall, I fell in the right direction

September 30, 2016 – October 3, 2016

The only one who can compete with Dustin Kensrue in providing me lyrics to live by is Lacrae. This line comes from the song “Free from It All” off of his Gravity album, and it’s another one of those lines that seems to fuse the best of existentialism–shout into the darkness, create the meaning the world lacks–with the best of Christianity–one day the veneer of chaos will be lifted and a universe of order and meaning will be revealed. Existentialism is for this world. Hope is for the next.

My heart is filled with songs of forever

August 17, 2016 – September 30, 2016

Look, folks, if someone doesn’t intervene, I will probably end up making just about all of the taglines for Difficult Run come from Thrice. Can you blame me? They are, basically, the best.

I can’t hear cause you ain’t talkin bout nuthin

July 26, 2016 – August 17, 2016

These words come from the song “Nuthin” off of Lecrae’s 2014 Anomaly album. It’s “a battle cry for substance in music” (according to Lecrae himself, in the second video.) I won’t say anything to explain it, because you can listen to Lecrae explain it from a show in Hong Kong:

When the song actually starts, however, the audio is pretty terrible. So if you want to hear the song itself (and you should! it’s great!) skip to the last video in this section. Before that, however, here’s one more of Lecrae talking about writing this song:

And now, here’s the track with high-quality audio:

Helping words aren’t always kind.

April 26, 2016 – July 26, 2016

I couldn’t find a better video for Thrice’s song “The Beltsville Crucible” than this one, which is a shame, because it’s a great song, write from the first lyrics: “true friends stab you in the front.” I have a friend who likes to say, “caring is overrated.” He’s right, of course. I don’t think this kind of music would appeal to him, but I’m pretty sure the sentiment would. Caring is nice. Helping is better. And helping doesn’t always feel like kindness on the surface. Sometimes, the truth has to cut before it sets you free. Thus: “you’re more and less than you first had believed / you’ve so much to give and there’s so much you need.”

And, of course, “helping words aren’t always kind.”

Love can mend your life. But love can break your heart.

April 1, 2016 – April 26, 2016

This tagline was chosen by Walker and comes from The Police’s famous song “Message in the Bottle.” The song deals with the feelings of loneliness and alienation, but this particular line has a C.S. Lewis-esque quality to it (see The Four Loves). Plus, Stewart Copeland is a beast on the drums.

You are the ghost of everything that I’m not and I want to be.

December 11, 2015 – April 1, 2016

The lyrics to this song are pretty conventional love lyrics (if you’re a screamo band), but this one particular line has always stood out for me.

We’ll be heroes or ghosts, but we won’t be turned around.

October 7, 2015 – December 11, 2015

This tagline comes from another Thrice track: “Burn the Fleet” off The Alchemy Index, Vol I: Fire.

Why this line? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. Only trouble I had was picking just one snippet from a song that is basically nonstop awesome from start to finish.

In this dark night we stand or fall
We are kings now, or nothing at all
Check your armor; Light up your torch
Touch the flame to the sail before you head for shore.

And we will burn the fleet,
We can never go home;
It’s to victory or under ground.
Burn the fleet, we’ll be heroes or ghosts
But we won’t be turned around.

There are days–lots of days–when I’m not sure why I work so hard. I’m not one of those folks who has one, abiding, passionate focus. The thing I want more than anything, as far as “mortal achievements” goes, is to be a writer. But I’d rather be a good dad and husband than a good writer. So, as far as the image of the passionate genius goes, I fail. The work I’m trying to build is an entire life. And that’s not a work that is really available for public consumption.

When I’m done with it, when I’m done spending whatever time I’ve been allotted by God to create this work, I believe He will go over it with me. He’ll show me what I did right, and where I went wrong, and I’ll see the big picture. I’ll see the finished product. Until then? I’m just a blind man carving by a feel a statue that is too large for me to feel all at once. Songs like this give me a little boost to keep going, chisel in hand, when I’d really rather sit on the sofa and watch tv or go and take a nap.

Fun fact: I actually meant to go with the line “We are kings now, or nothing at all,” but for the entire time I had “We’ll be heroes or ghosts, but we won’t be turned around.” Oh well, I’ll use the line I meant to some time in the future.

Keep that hate on hiatus.

Aug 24, 2015 – Oct 7, 2015

Can’t believe this is the first time that Lecrae made our tagline but I just checked and it is. Definitely won’t be the last. “Put that hate on hiatus” is from the song “I Know” on the album Gravity. Lecrae is awesome for some of the same reasons that Thrice is awesome: unapologetically religious lyrics competing for space in secular spaces instead of cordoned off in some kind of designated Christian ghetto-genre. And that’s exactly what the lyrics in this song are about:

No they thinkin I’m blind
But I just pay them no mind
Yeah I know they be lyin
They misquotin my lines
They like “What you think you doin puttin hope in yo’ rhymes?”
You would think I’m shootin folk or puttin coke in my rhymes
I just give ’em bass for free and push the dopest of lines
Boy you trippin, I know
Cr-Cr-Crae you slippin, I know
I done heard this all before; just sit back enjoy the show
Yeah, I know they go’n hate us
Type they blog up, debate us
They be fishin for attention but don’t know how to bait us
Keep that hate on hiatus

These guys–Lecrae and Thrice–are an inspiration to me. Discipleship is all-encompassing, and so there is no topic that a Christian can’t write about. There’s more to praise than praise music.

Clouds are making way for me.

May 11, 2015 – Aug 24, 2015

Nathaniel picked these lyrics from “Setting Sail, Coming Home,” which is the end theme for one of the greatest video games of all time: Bastion. The soundtrack is incredible. The surrounding lyrics are:

Lie on my back,
Clouds are making way for me
I’m coming home, sweet home

I see your star,
You left it burning for me;
Mother, I’m here.

Welcome to my broken song.

March 24, 2015 – May 11, 2015

Nathaniel picked this one because we haven’t had a Matisyahu lyric yet, and it was time.

And if I close my mind in fear, please pry it open

January 7, 2015 – March 24, 2015

This line, from “The Outlaw Torn” on Metallica’s Load album, also comes from Walker Wright. Nathaniel had to swallow a bit of his anti-Metallica sentiment.

Some will sell their dreams for small desires

Sep 27, 2014 – January 7, 2015

Walker picked this line from the song “Subdivisions” by Rush off their Signals album. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Rush lyrics crop up on DR again in the future.

Who I am is who I want to be.

Aug 24, 2014 – Sep 27, 2014

This one comes from the Reba McEntire song “I’m a Survivor,” and Ro (who picked it) found a live version of the song.

And higher than the heights of what we often think we know.

July 24, 2014 – Aug 24, 2014

Incubus, “Nice to Know You,” Morning View. This is another one comes from Walker, who suggested it a month or more ago but I’ve been out of things. Walker has good taste.

This is a story full of restless nights.

April 24, 2014 – July 24, 2014

It’s not hard to see why I love this song even just by looking at some of the lyrics.

This is a story full of restless nights
Of do or do not ’cause there is no try
Across a decade we flew high and we fell low
And getting up when we’re dragged down is all we’ve known

We were born to be the ones
To show the faithless what we’ve done
And there’s a fire inside
We were born to be the ones
To show the faithless what we’ve done
And there’s a fire inside
It burns like the surface of the sun

Oh yeah, you can expect me to come back to this song again at some point down the road.

Got no patience to search for peace of mind.

March 23, 2014 – April 24, 2014

Got no patience to search for peace of mind.

This one comes from the song “No Excuses” by Alice In Chains, originally on their Jar of Flies album. It’s another pick from Walker. The song is supposedly about guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s relationship with heroin-addicted lead singer Layne Staley. Walker has written at The Slow Hunch about the power behind their music (which was introduced to him by his church youth/Scout leader).

A calculated risk to further bless your name.

February 22, 2014 – March 23, 2014

It’s a miracle that I managed to hold off on a Thrice song this long, and I’ll have to struggle to not make every single tagline from here on out another Thrice lyric. I’ll do my best. This one comes from the song “Identity Crisis” on the album of the same name. I picked an acoustic version to embed above, but if you want the original screamo (and why wouldn’t you?) here you go. The lyrics from the song are incredible, and here is the stanza from which I took this phrase:

This is my voice, all shadows stayed this is my heart, upon the altar laid
Please take all else away, hear my cry, I beg, I plead, I pray
I’ll walk into the flame, a calculated risk to further bless your name
So strike me deep and true, and in your strength I will live and die both unto you.

The song opens with “I put all my faith in you,” but ends with describing the sacrifice as “a calculated risk.” That, to me, is the absolute essence of faith.  It is the trust of a confused child. It is fidelity to an ideal without knowing for sure if all will be well.It is something we attempt, but fail to do. It is like the father tearfully begging Jesus to save his son who said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

I want something good to die for, to make it beautiful to live.

Jan 4 2014 – February 22, 2014

This comes from the song “Go With the Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age. Walker suggested it way back in fall 2013, but I was slow getting it updated. He picked an acoustic version of the song, and it’s great.

Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check.

September 1, 2013 – Jan 4, 2014

This one comes from the song “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, and Mahonri picked it.

Everybody wants to be naked and famous.

August 2013 – September 1, 2013

This was the first tagline we went with when I launched the site redesign in August 2013, and Ro picked it. The lyrics to this song are amazing. So good!

The Difficult Run 2013 Year in Review

Another year, another annual report on Difficult Run from WordPress. I made this year’s report public, so if you’re curious you can check it out yourself. Here are some highlights from the report and other thoughts about the blog at the dawn of a new year.


2013 was the first full year of Difficult Run’s existence, and we had about 57,000 visits over the course of the year. Traffic has been going up month-over-month pretty much since the blog started, with a couple of exceptions.

2014-01-04 Traffic
Web traffic to Difficult Run, captured about 10:00am on Jan 4, 2014.

June 2013 was a big month because of the post I did on health insurance vs. food insurance. It got picked up on Reddit and generated over 5,000 views in one day. We had another uptick in August when I launched a site design and brought the Difficult Run Editors on board. And then December 2013 was a low month because there were very, very few posts for the second half of the month.

The reason I put this info out there is mostly just that I’m always interested to get insight into what traffic other blogs are generated. So I thought it’d be nice to be transparent about traffic here. I don’t have any ads or generate revenue from this site in any way, so in a sense it doesn’t matter that much, but obviously if I and the rest of the DREditors publish our thoughts on a blog, we’d like to think that folks are coming along to read them. I’d always love to see more traffic, of course, but I’m pretty happy with the growth so far. My basis philosophy is to concentrate on making good content and then as a secondary consideration work to make it easy to find and then just wait. I’ll let you know in 2015 how that has worked out for us.

Top Posts

The health insurance vs. food insurance post was so big that it made June 2013 the biggest month, so that dominated in terms of traffic. Here the entire top-5 list for 2013:

  1. Health Insurance vs. Food Insurance
  2. Understanding the Missing Empathy of Ender’s Author
  3. True Math Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
  4. Malice Towards None: Orson Scott Card, Gay Marriage, and the “Ender’s Game” Film Controversy, Part One
  5. Elizabeth Smart, Chastity, Politics, and the Value of Human Life

Some observations on that list. First, 4 of the 5 are original content. A lot of the posts at DR are links to other articles that we find interesting, sometimes with a little bit of commentary, but this list is comprised almost entirely of longer pieces rather than links to other stuff. Except the “True Math Facts” piece. For some weird reason, I’ve noticed that almost every single day there are people who search for terms like “math facts blow mind” and find that link. It’s always interesting, and weird, to see where the traffic goes. It reminds me of trying to explain stock market movements: no one can predict them ahead of time, but everyone likes to come up with a story after the fact.

Second: Orson Scott Card shows up twice and, with Elizabeth Smart, three of the top five stories are about famous Mormons.

Lastly: there’s quite a lot of variety in that list. I know that the conventional wisdom about starting  a new blog is to pick some niche and become its master. I recognize the wisdom of that advice, and if my goal were “make a successful blog” I would probably follow it. But the trouble is I like writing about a diverse array of topics. So do the rest of the DREditors. We might be able to grab more traffic faster by honing in on one topic and dominating it, but I’m content to take a more patient approach and just write as well as we can about the things that seem important and interesting. And, based on the variety of topics that have garnered traffic, I’d like to think it’s going to work out over time.

Site Changes

My friend Chris Walsh did a redesign of the site for August, and he gave me everything I asked for and it was fantastic. Trouble is, over time I decided that what I’d asked for wasn’t what I wanted. In particular, the full-width layout for reading individual posts felt wrong (even though it’s what I’d asked for). Rather than ask for another redesign, I realized that I was probably going to end up wanting to tweak the site no matter what it looked like, so I picked a theme I liked and started making my own modifications.

The current look, which I launched yesterday, is based on the Minimum Pro theme from StudioPress. I’m still tweaking all kinds of details and it’s definitely not as finished as I wanted it to be, but with the holidays, a new house, and now sick kids it was the best I could do. I wanted a new site for the new year, and I’ve got it.

I’ll continue to tinker with the site over the coming weeks but, for now at least, I think the basic look works really well. I particularly like how fast the site loads now that I’ve gotten rid of most of the images.

Coming in 2014

Based on what I’ve learned from 2013, I’m going to try fewer original pieces per week (probably just 1 or 2 at the most) but with more emphasis on the polish and research for those pieces. I’ve seen that it’s not impossible to get a post to go fairly viral on Reddit if I just have the confidence to invest a lot of work in a single post. More and more I think that the Internet does respond, over time, to quality. (That’s not the only thing it responds to, of course!) I’ll encourage the other DREditors to do the same, but I’m going to keep posting short snippets as well (just links to other articles with brief commentary) because A) it’s a compulsion for me and B) it’s the sort of thing I like to see in the blogs I read. I may move some of that off to Twitter, however, instead of posting all of them to Difficult Run. (Trying to squeeze my commentary into 140 characters is also good practice for me.)

I’m also going to expand into some guest posts. I have one very important post in the works right now from a guest blogger that I’m looking forward to posting, and a couple more in the works. Difficult Run is my personal blog, but I can think of nothing better to do with my tiny patch of Internet that invite my smartest friends to come and share their thoughts.

So, those are my musings on the year that was and the year that will be. What about  y’all? I’d love to get some feedback on what folks would like to see more of in 2014. (Or less of. That’s not as exciting, but it’s just as useful.)


Introducing Difficult Run 2.0

2012-09-05 18.55.01 smaller

Welcome to the new and improved Difficult Run 2.0! This iteration of the site is much closer to my original vision when I launched the site in November 2012, but it took a lot of help from talented friends to get it here.

The first major change is that I’ve brought on board a group of awesome contributing editors: Adam, Mahonri, Monica, Ro, and Walker. I’ve known these folks for a variety of time from just months to more than 10 years. They are all intelligent, thoughtful writers with their own perspectives and views, but the one attribute they all share is that they are interesting people. They think about the topics of the day–from international relations to economic policy to video games and technology–in terms of the principles and ideals that matter to them. And that’s what DR is really all about.

The second major change is the layout. It’s a lot different cosmetically, of course, but the big change is functional. There are now two “streams” of content. The center column is for shorter, time-sensitive pieces like links to other blog posts or news stories. It’s updated fairly frequently (usually at least a few times every day) and so the stories go by pretty quickly. The far-right column is for longer, original pieces and is updated less frequently (usually just once a day). It’s also a mobile-responsive theme, which is nice.

Read moreIntroducing Difficult Run 2.0

Changes Coming to Difficult Run

Post have been a little light recently. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of them is that I’m dissatisfied with the current layout and functionality of the site. I’m working on some major changes, and I hope to have them up within a month. Maybe even sooner.

In the meantime, expect more posts and maybe also some previews of the changes I have planned.

Note: I Review Lots of Books

Just thought I’d mention that I added some social links to the site: Facebook (which has a Page that basically mirrors the blog), Twitter (which I don’t use that much) and Goodreads.

Goodreads I actually use quite a lot. I just finished updating the books I’ve read over the last few months with long reviews on each one. I think I’ll add like a “top 5 fiction” and “top 5 non-fiction” Page to my blog here at Difficult Run, but in the meantime you can check out my reviews by clicking the link in the sidebar to the right. From now on, I think I’ll also post a short note whenever a new review goes up, but I had several to do at once so I just pumped them out over the last couple of days as fast as I could. You can also just become a friend on Goodreads (or whatever they call it) if you already use it.

(The Goodreads link goes to my read books, sorted by date. So does this link, if you’re curious to check them out.)

The DR Topics

The received wisdom for starting a new blog is to pick a specialty nice and then become the acknowledged master of your own fiefdom. That sounds like a really, really smart strategy, and at DR we’ve chosen to ignore it completely. Instead, our posts are sorted into one or more of the following posts, which basically cover anything we could think to write about:


Meet the Difficult Run Editors



Nathaniel launched Difficult Run in November 2012 and ran the website alone until August 2013, when he invited the first Difficult Run Editors to join him in adding content to the site.

Nathaniel’s background is in math, systems engineering, and economics. He is interested in technology, science fiction, and theology. He is an avid runner, but not a very fast one. He currently works as chief scientist for a software development and consulting firm in Richmond, VA. He is married to fellow DREditor Ro and together they have two little children.

In addition to Difficult Run, Nathaniel blogs regularly for Times And Seasons and writes a lot of reviews on Goodreads.

All posts by Nathaniel.



Without a post-graduate degree nor any current plans to obtain one, Adam must compensate by being louder. He has a background in computer science and has worked in web technology for a number of years. He, like everyone, enjoys discussions about politics, science, religion and technology. He loves his wife, reading, video games, basketball, and Jeff Goldblum.

All posts by Adam.



Allen is obsessed with books. When moving to the USA he packed two suitcases full of them, and dreads being stuck without something to read. He is pursuing a major in journalism, is married to an amazing woman and together raise a beautiful daughter. His interests include religion, Jewish, Eastern European, and Middle-Eastern history and current affairs. He has also been known to have an allergic reaction to the term “literary theory.”

All posts by Allen.



Bryan is a chemical engineer, a materials science master’s student, and a Catholic. His interests include country western dancing, camping, video gaming, target shooting, and (unsurprisingly) debate. If it exists, he will argue about it.

All posts by Bryan.



Robin (Ro) joined this blog because she is awesome. She’s not very wordy. The End.

No, OK. Ro is a PhD student in Computer Science with a strong background in Mathematics. She thinks running is for crazy people. She enjoys reading, playing games, doing family history, and baking pies. All of these she rarely gets to do because she is a PhD student. With children.

Ro doesn’t blog anywhere else. See excuse above. (Full disclosure: Ro and Nathaniel are married.)

All posts by Ro.



Walker joined Difficult Run as an editor in August 2013.

Walker is currently a grad student at John Hopkins University. He also did previous graduate work at the University of North Texas. His interests include religion (particularly Mormonism), economics, management, psychology, and public policy. He attempts to juggle these interests with his need to play guitar, an unhealthy obsession with James Bond movies (note the tux), and his lovely wife.

In addition to Difficult Run, Walker also blogs at Times & Seasons and Worlds Without End.

All posts by Walker.

Mahonri (Emeritus)


Mahonri Stewart is a national award winning playwright, with over a dozen of his plays produced in both the United States and Europe. He is also working on becoming a screenwriter, having had his screenplays optioned and win film festival prizes. He would also love to work in television some day, as he loves long form storytelling. Mahonri is currently an MFA Dramatic Writing student at Arizona State University so that he can officially legitimize his impractical career choices. He is very happy to be a husband and a father, and has an unhealthy obsession with Doctor Who and the X-Men. He also blogs at And My Soul Hungered, Magic and Mutants, and the Association for Mormon Letters’s Dawning of a Brighter Day.

Mahonri went on emeritus status in March 2014 to focus on other projects.

All posts by Mahonri.

Monica (Emeritus)


Monica is earning her master’s in forensic science with a focus on DNA; she has a bachelor’s in chemical biology. Her interests include biology, the justice system, swing dancing, and the Epic Rap Battles of History. She has a toddler, an internship, a job, and a thesis. After that comes blogging.

Monica went on emeritus status in January 2016 to tend to her little vampire.

All posts by Monica.

About Difficult Run

I’m Nathaniel Givens, and Difficult Run started out as my personal blog in November 2012. In August 2013, I turned it into a group blog by adding a bunch of my talented friends as fellow editors. (You can see the current roster here.) When I started DR, I was working a job in the DC area that had me away from my family Sunday through Friday. It was a tough, lonely period but I wanted to make the most of time I had away from my kids so I started the blog and took the name from a signpost I passed on my run (or bike ride) to and from work.

2014-01-04 Difficult Run

It turns out that Difficult Run is just the name of the little stream that runs under the bridge in the photo, but I liked the idea of putting a positive spin on adversity. After all: if a workout isn’t difficult then you’re not accomplishing anything.

DR had about 57,000 visitors in its first complete year of existence (2013) and then another 50,000 visitors in the first two months of 2014. So far,the top 5 most-visited stories are:

  1. On Rape Culture in the Ensign (The Lack Thereof)
  2. Health Insurance vs. Food Insurance
  3. A Society Meet for Male Priesthood
  4. Understanding the Missing Empathy of Ender’s Author
  5. True Math Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

Currently, we post short new pieces on a daily basis. These usually link to content elsewhere along with some new commentary. We also post longer, original features on a weekly basis. You can follow DR via email, via RSS, or on Facebook.

By the way, if you’re curious about the tagline for the website, we pick them from song lyrics more or less at random and change it up every now and then. Here’s a post that keeps track of all the past taglines, and where they come from.

(Last updated: March 12, 2014)