One of the first things I realized when I started running on the Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail is that the limestone grading, though it may be comfortable to run on, causes one little dilemma--pebbles in the shoe! One little pebble can be irritating on so many levels. If it is the right shape or size, it feels like it is stabbing you. You begin running kind of goofily (if that is a word). Shaking your foot every couple steps to re-adjust the pebble.
Even if you try to ignore it in hopes that it will work its own way to the front of your shoe and no longer be a problem (which it usually does), it can cause you to totally lose focus as you begin to concentrate on the little booger. If you are running for time, you certainly don't want to stop and dump out your shoe, put it back on, and re-lace it.
I suppose that if you try to ignore it, and it ends up in the right place, it can cause some blistering or some sort of rash or something. Some runner's feet are more sensitive than others, and it may depend on how long you are running, but suffice it to say, pebbles can be annoying.
Personally, I usually don't mess with it. If anything, I will come to a good resting point, dump out my shoe, take a drink of water, and keep on going. If it were really a problem I would wear some gaiters (I have a really flashy pair that is red with black Zebra stripes...one reason I don't ever mess with them).
In our lives, we have lots of "pebbles" that work their way into our shoes, so to speak. Be it a coworker or family member who has done us wrong, a minor ailment that keeps getting the best of us, a financial hardship, or any number of situations that cause us a little irritation and threaten our great mission in life.
Here are some things to ask yourself when you notice one of those little rascally pebbles has finagled their way into your shoe:
1. How serious is it?
If it is not causing great pain and you don't think it is going to keep you from reaching your goal, you might not want to worry about it. So often we get distracted and let little situations get the best of us instead of just letting them go. Yet, obviously there are times when something must be done, no matter how much it slows you down or sets you back, in order to make sure we can keep going later on down the road. You need to analyze each pebble before you act on it.
2. What are you running for?
If I am out leisurely jogging and have no time restraints, you better believe I'm removing the pebble. I've got plenty of time, and I want to enjoy the run. This is true in life, too. There are certain points in our lives where it is perfectly reasonable to slow down a little and focus on enjoying the things in our life. It is important to enjoy our family, and sometimes this requires that we remove anything that interferes with that. But this doesn't exclude us from having goals and responsibilities. Eventually you are going to have to go all out and accomplish something. During those times, the little things need not distract you.
3. How sensitive are you?
Perhaps you are the type that should just go ahead and put on some gaiters because every little pebble is a huge ordeal. I personally don't like the idea of babying myself. I like the idea of running barefoot every once in a while, enduring some pain, and making myself tougher. Have you ever noticed that the picky eater always gets the wrong order, the germaphobe who sprays everything with Lysol and washes 92 times a day is always sick, sniffing and coughing. I enjoy food that everyone else thinks is nasty--I guess it started as a kid when I was taught to go ahead and eat everything on my plate. I have a great immune system--maybe it's because I don't obsess about dirt and have even been known to pick up food that dropped on the floor and eat it. And I don't worry about pebbles--perhaps I've endured blisters and cuts long enough to have developed calloused feet.
I hope you can make the application here. Pebbles in the shoes can truly be a problem for runners, and little situations can definitely affect our lives. I just want to encourage everyone to consider the little things and decide if they are really worth us getting all bent out of shape or not.