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127: Steven Sashen – On Why You Should Consider Running Barefoot – With or Without Your Shoes On

By February 10, 2018Podcasts
Reading Time: 6 minutes
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Steven Sashen is the CEO and co-founder of Xero Shoes. A serial entrepreneur and life-long athlete, Steven was an All-American gymnast and is now a Masters All-American sprinter. Also a former professional stand-up comedian and Emmy award-winning TV host, Sashen’s comedic and educational videos have over four million views.Podcast 127: Steven Sashen Xero Shoes

With Xero Shoes, Steven is committed to helping people discover the fun and benefits of footwear that lets your body move and function naturally, and his enthusiasm for doing it hasn’t ebbed since getting involved in the barefoot movement almost ten years ago.

If you’re a runner, you’ve probably asked yourself one or more of these questions:

a) Am I running efficiently?
b) Are my comfy running shoes the best ones for good, healthy, natural running mechanics?
c) Why do I keep getting running injuries?
d) Running is hard. How can I make it easier?

If so, or if you’ve ever wondered what all this talk is about barefoot running, tune in to this podcast. We talk about all of this, and more!

Andy Petranek Whole Life Challenge

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Episode Notes – #127: Steven Sashen

  • How Steven got into the sandal and shoe making business
  • Creating sandlas that capitalized early on in the barefoot running movement that got started with Chris McDougal’s book, “Born To Run”.
  • How Steven first met our mutual friend and barefoot running master, Lee Saxby.
  • Steve’s original product – a “goofy-assed” sandal-making kit (a rubber sole and some string to tie it to your feet)
  • How his wife (and business partner) reacted to his first pitch of the idea for the business.
  • How the financial meltdown of 2007 pushed Steven back into the entrepreneur, internet marketing and SEO world.
  • How Steven allowed his customers and the market to lead him where they were most interested in going,instead of trying to jump in to the shoe business.
  • Two rules inspire his decisions: 1) customer requests/wishes, 2) a commitment to natural movement
  • It took 7 years for him to get into the closed-toed shoe business
  • His Prio shoes are simply his sandals with a sewn-on upper
  • Steven’s 4 Neurological patterns of human beings and barefoot running
  • Steven’s simple steps/instructions for trying out barefoot running
  • How feedback from the proprioceptors of the feet determine a runner’s ability to transition to barefoot running
  • Steven explains the importance of the neurological (proprioceptive) connection to the feet
  • Transitioning to barefoot running takes time – mentally, physically, and neurologically
  • The process of learning a new neurological pattern takes energy, effort, is frustrating and takes time to integrate.
  • Frustration is part of the learning process.
  • People tend to overestimate their skill at things they already do (like running) simply because they’ve been doing it for their whole lives.
  • Steven’s background as a sprinter and gymnast
  • How he injuries as a master’s athlete in track and field helped him accidentally discover barefoot running.
  • Any running shoe that does not allow your foot bend, flex and move, feel the ground, and has support of any kind
  • How the heels in the first Nike running shoes were created to accommodate shortened achilles tendons from dress shoes.
  • How heel striking caused new issues with pronating and supinating, giving the shoe industry more different types of products to sell.
  • Heel striking puts your foot out in front of you that causes a breaking effect which also putting strain on the plantar fascia.
  • So many running injuries can be solved simply by transitioning to barefoot running – taking off your shoes. But you must build up SLOWLY.
  • Prior to 1972, every running shoe was flat.
  • How modern, cushioned running shoes inhibit function and do not improve on our natural movement mechanics that have evolved over millions of years.
  • Any padding in running shoes (what you might consider minimal) causes a muting of sensations and feedback from the ground which allows a continuation of heel striking when a runner thinks they are not.
  • How people think that “cushy” shoes means they are good and comfortable, and that the padding in them must be good. It’s the opposite of what they really need.
  • Steven’s biggest obstacle as a small business has been finding money, since when they don’t have enough, they run out of inventory. It’s a balancing act.
  • Massive growth has also been a major challenge – not being ready for major successes, sales.
  • Steven is driven to change the world – he wants to make natural movement as obvious as the idea of natural food and natural health.
  • Consider this: If you take your shoes off at the end of the day and you feel better, you’ve been wearing the wrong shoes!
  • Steven is working on a minimalist basketball shoe.
  • Steven doesn’t believe in the “balance idea.” He gets, up, has a cup of coffee and goes to work. Working 6+ days/week.
  • The potato diet
  • Steven follows a high carb, low fat diet – has found that he functions very well eating this way.
  • Using cannabis for slowing down and sleeping
  • Recommendations for barefoot running – take off your shoes and go for a walk or run. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make this easier, less effortful, and more fun?”


Connect with Steven Sashen


Selected Resources from the Episode

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If you enjoyed this podcast, here are some others to check out:

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115: Danny Dreyer — You, Too, Can Love Running

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Andy Petranek
Andy is what you’d call a modern day Renaissance Man: a former professional trumpeter who attended the Eastman School of Music; a snowboarder, mountain biker, surfer, kayaker, outrigger paddler, mountaineer, and former Marine (Gulf War veteran); a professionally sponsored adventure racer; and the oldest participant to qualify for and participate in the CrossFit Games at the age of 43.

Andy is a certified CHEK Practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. He holds a spectrum of certifications from CrossFit and is also a Vivobarefoot certified running coach. He has trained as a Zen buddhist and graduated with a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

Andy founded CrossFit LA one of the first and most successful CrossFit training centers in the world and the first to be featured in national media. He is the co-founder of the Whole Life Challenge, Inc, currently its president, and is also a consultant and life/business coach. Andy lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Julia, and son, Dashel.