Ultrarunning is arguably the best thing ever. It’s all about majestic mountains, beautiful trails, and delicious aid stations. However, don’t let the ultrarunners of Instagram fool you. Their passion comes with not-so-pretty consequences such as chafed skin, scraped knees, smelly shoes, hair mistaken for a bird’s nest, black or non-existent toenails, etc. If that weren’t enough, some runners have recently discovered another unintended consequence of ultrarunning–bigger feet.

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Hilary Matheson from Vancouver, B.C. discovered this after her first two years of ultrarunning. As an adult, Matheson needed to buy new and bigger running shoes. She noticed her feet had grown by almost a full shoe size. “I was a 7.5 before I ran, and now I’m an 8 to 8.5, depending on the shoe.”

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In 2013 after Matheson’s first 50K ultra. Photo: Hilary Matheson

At the time, she asked her coach Gary Robbins about this theory. He explained his feet had also grown since running longer distances. Matheson’s physiotherapist told her that runners often have extremely weak arches and should be doing exercises to strengthen them (alongside the odd pedicure). 

Photo: Hilary Matheson

Is it a shoe industry conspiracy? Or does ultrarunning make our feet bigger than before? Flattened arches from running may explain the need for bigger shoes over the years. Another reason could be that ultrarunning blesses our feet with blisters and calluses, which take up space in our shoes over time. Regardless, ultrarunning isn’t pretty–and going the distances requires some sacrifice. For the ultrarunners out there, has ultrarunning made your feet bigger? 

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