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Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

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An alternate cover for this edition can be found here. Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see wh An alternate cover for this edition can be found here. Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up. Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week. In the years since Finding Ultra was published, Rich has become one of the world’s most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In this newly revised and updated edition, he shares the practices, tools, and techniques he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols. Rich reflects on the steps he took to shift his mindset and leverage deep reservoirs of untapped potential to achieve success beyond his wildest imagination, urging each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery.


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An alternate cover for this edition can be found here. Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see wh An alternate cover for this edition can be found here. Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up. Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week. In the years since Finding Ultra was published, Rich has become one of the world’s most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In this newly revised and updated edition, he shares the practices, tools, and techniques he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols. Rich reflects on the steps he took to shift his mindset and leverage deep reservoirs of untapped potential to achieve success beyond his wildest imagination, urging each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery.

30 review for Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rich Roll

    Of course I'm giving it 5 stars - I wrote it. So please forgive me. Look forward to everyone else's honest thoughts when the book comes out in May.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    The good: everyone loves a story of personal growth and redemption. It's endearing to see a guy turn his life around and become healthier so he can see his kids grow up. Even better when he takes health to the extreme and goes from couch potato to elite endurance athlete. Even more interesting is the particular approach he took. Opting for a vegan diet is hard enough for regular folk, even more-so when you're running three-day ultraironman triathlon distances. How did he do it?.... The bad: he ne The good: everyone loves a story of personal growth and redemption. It's endearing to see a guy turn his life around and become healthier so he can see his kids grow up. Even better when he takes health to the extreme and goes from couch potato to elite endurance athlete. Even more interesting is the particular approach he took. Opting for a vegan diet is hard enough for regular folk, even more-so when you're running three-day ultraironman triathlon distances. How did he do it?.... The bad: he never really tells you. Always opting for generalities, he tells you about the "power" of plants, loaded with "nutrients". He claims to have read all the scientific literature on the topic, but all he can muster is a stray footnote to an article on CNN or Bloombergnews. We all know that plants are nutrient dense, that refined carbs spike your blood sugar and that hormone-addled factory farm beef will mess up your system. How about telling us what the hell is in spirulina or those wacky mushrooms you throw into the blender. Fluff, fluff and more fluff. But the worst part.... The ugly: the book comes across as a vehicle for product placement. Buy a Vitamix blender! My specialized Transition S bike is so good! My proprietary blend of wacky vegan foods will make you as healthy as me... for the low, low price of (unknown, never bothered to check any of the websites he pimps in his book)! The more ugly: he keeps coming back to these vague idea of spirituality saving his life. Some magical space karma kept him from dying during his multiple DUI fiascos. Some wonderful chi in the universe gave him energy to finish his last triathlon. It's so sentimental and faux-religious you'd think Deepak Chopra wrote it. The takeaway: fun book on fueling yourself with healthy vegan stuff, but don't spend a dime on the book. Read a blogpost about him or check it out on the library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    First of all, full disclosure... I might be the perfect audience for this book. I know the author (we were teammates on the Stanford swim team), I'm a fellow recovering alcoholic, and I'm an Ironman triathlete. I haven't made the switch to a plant-based diet, but I did just buy some kale, beets, and acai juice to blend up for lunch. I've followed Rich's story peripherally for years and feel a strong bond to him and his journey. So I may be a bit biased, but... This book was amazingly inspirational First of all, full disclosure... I might be the perfect audience for this book. I know the author (we were teammates on the Stanford swim team), I'm a fellow recovering alcoholic, and I'm an Ironman triathlete. I haven't made the switch to a plant-based diet, but I did just buy some kale, beets, and acai juice to blend up for lunch. I've followed Rich's story peripherally for years and feel a strong bond to him and his journey. So I may be a bit biased, but... This book was amazingly inspirational. It follows Rich's swimming career, partying career, work career, recovery, family life, and finally, tranformation into an elite plant-powered ultra-endurance triathlete. It's a powerful and moving memoir, but not just for people looking to do an "extreme makeover", like switch to Veganism or compete in Ultraman. I think it speaks to all of us who are facing the realities of getting a bit older and who long to find that better person inside us that we all know exists. Sprinkle in a bit of compelling dietary science and you've got a tremendous book that has me looking at my life with a different lens. I'd highly recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kris Madaus

    This book is essentially three small books in one. The first section is Rich Roll's autobiography with an emphasis on his slip into alcoholism and subsequent turn-around. To me, this was the least interesting part of the book. It is sad and frustrating to read, but I also realize that this is an important part of the story. The second section is about Rich's entry into the ultra-triathlon world. This is where it starts to get good, and this is why I bought the book. I love hearing about people p This book is essentially three small books in one. The first section is Rich Roll's autobiography with an emphasis on his slip into alcoholism and subsequent turn-around. To me, this was the least interesting part of the book. It is sad and frustrating to read, but I also realize that this is an important part of the story. The second section is about Rich's entry into the ultra-triathlon world. This is where it starts to get good, and this is why I bought the book. I love hearing about people pushing themselves far beyond the limit, and this part of the book does not disappoint. The third part of the book is about Rich's plant-based whole foods diet. I was not expecting this piece of the book, but it was surprisingly interesting. As a matter of disclosure, I am a long distance runner, and I have been a vegetarian (not vegan) for about five years. So, many of the things Rich talks about were intriguing as a way to increase fitness levels. I was happy to see that he didn't get preachy about the ethics behind eating meat. Even though I agree with that stuff, I don't enjoy reading it. He stuck strictly to the reasons why certain items are good to have in your diet. Really good stuff. So good, I am giving it a shot. I highly recommend this book for almost anyone - athletes and non-athletes alike. I would have given it five stars, but I personally didn't get a lot of enjoyment out of the first part of the book. Nothing against the author. Just a matter of preference. I will suggest that if you get this book, buy it in paper format. There are too many things I wanted to go back to reference, but couldn't due to it being an Audible book. Paper is better in this case.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Willie

    A handy guide to the products and services offered by a California entertainment lawyer. If you like paying for a book that tells a little bit of story and a whole lot about all the other great things you can buy from the same author, you'll love Rich Roll. From the shoehorned chapter about his marvelous PlantPower -- "vegan" to the rest of the world -- diet, to the appendix jam-packed with his Jai sports drinks and Jai eCookbook and Jai cleansing program and Jai meditation program and his wife's A handy guide to the products and services offered by a California entertainment lawyer. If you like paying for a book that tells a little bit of story and a whole lot about all the other great things you can buy from the same author, you'll love Rich Roll. From the shoehorned chapter about his marvelous PlantPower -- "vegan" to the rest of the world -- diet, to the appendix jam-packed with his Jai sports drinks and Jai eCookbook and Jai cleansing program and Jai meditation program and his wife's debut music album(?), you'll be drooling at all the money you can soon give Rich Roll. The shame is that there's a lot of solid nutritional and training advice, but it's so thoroughly interwoven with his sales pitch that it's difficult to separate the advice from the marketing. The incessant 12-step sloganeering gets tiresome, too. For a good memoir about ultraendurance and veganism without all the self-promotion, read Scott Jurek's Eat & Run.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    After reading Rich Roll's memoir/ode to veganism, "Finding Ultra," the reader is left with one undeniable conclusion. Rich Roll is insane. This is not a criticism of Mr. Roll, who may have saved himself through his insanity. But even though Roll writes as if anyone who converts to a healthy vegan diet can achieve the same endurance feats he has, the fact remains that he has transformed himself into one of the most unique athletes in the world. Consider: in less than half a decade, Roll transforms h After reading Rich Roll's memoir/ode to veganism, "Finding Ultra," the reader is left with one undeniable conclusion. Rich Roll is insane. This is not a criticism of Mr. Roll, who may have saved himself through his insanity. But even though Roll writes as if anyone who converts to a healthy vegan diet can achieve the same endurance feats he has, the fact remains that he has transformed himself into one of the most unique athletes in the world. Consider: in less than half a decade, Roll transforms himself from a cheeseburger-slurping couch potato (recovering from a decade of major-league alcohol abuse) into one of the first two guys to complete the EPIC5. What is the EPIC5, you ask? The EPIC5 is a flat-out nightmare - completing 5 Ironman Triathlons in 5 consecutive days, each one on a different Hawaiian island. To put this in perspective, an individual Ironman is the feat of a lifetime and includes - in one day - the following: 2.4 mile swim - in open water 112 mile bike race, followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon. Most fitness fanatics never even bother with an Ironman, while for others completing a single race is their life's defining moment. Roll slightly misses his goal by needing two rest days, but he still completes the EPIC5 in seven days. This is insane, and something that only a truly unique personality would even consider, much less finish. Indeed, the most frustrating part of Roll's book is his unwillingness to accept how special he is, even as he's telling you this remarkable story. And it is remarkable. Ultimately Roll's repeated insistence that he's just a regular guy - Roll is invariably "amazed" when he does well or when he sees that someone is cheering on his athletic endeavors, so much so that I started blacking out the word each time he used it - smacks of false modesty. However, it may give some insight into his character, as Roll drops many hints that he likes drama and craves attention. (Full disclosure - if Roll had stricken "amazed" from his narrative and used about half as many adjectives, I'd probably give this book 5 stars. Read "Finding Ultra" for the story, not the style.) Roll gives the credit to his mid-life transformation to his PlantPower diet - a self-generated diet based solely on plants. Roll goes to great lengths to explain how you can be "vegan" and still eat incredibly unhealthy foods. "Finding Ultra" is replete with recommendations for a variety of foods and their benefits, both for general nutrition and for athletic training. Roll skewers notions that athletes must get their protein from animals, that eggs and cheese are good for you, and that much sports nutrition wisdom is actually misinformation. But "Finding Ultra" is not a fascinating read because it's got dietary suggestions - it's because Roll makes such a tremendous shift to become an elite endurance athlete. True, he pays mere lip service to the impact Roll's fitness mania has on his family - he says how much he loves his kids, even as he more or less ignores them. But "Finding Ultra" is a rare glimpse inside the head of a world-class athlete who appreciates the second chance he gave himself to be the kind of man he always wanted to be. Highly recommended for anyone caught in a middle-age fitness struggle or who wants a little dietary inspiration.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martin Rowe

    I hedged on whether to buy and read this book, having read some of the negative reviews of the book on Amazon. Perhaps I was overly influenced by them, but I found myself as irritated as the reviewers by Roll's narcissism. He mightily tries to show how completely he screwed up his life in a descent into alcoholism and rehab, and yet one can't help but notice that he has a deep, selfless support structure that helps him pick himself up, stays with him during the tough times, and then accompanies I hedged on whether to buy and read this book, having read some of the negative reviews of the book on Amazon. Perhaps I was overly influenced by them, but I found myself as irritated as the reviewers by Roll's narcissism. He mightily tries to show how completely he screwed up his life in a descent into alcoholism and rehab, and yet one can't help but notice that he has a deep, selfless support structure that helps him pick himself up, stays with him during the tough times, and then accompanies him on his races. Roll frequently expresses his gratitude and admits he could be an asshole at times; he acknowledges his addictive tendencies; and yet unlike Scott Jurek in his much more self-aware autobiography EAT AND RUN, Roll rarely stops but moves on to more success. Roll's achievements, especially that of completing five Ironmen runs in under seven days—are impressive. But I would have liked to hear more about his remarkable partner in that race, Jason Lester, who was unable to use his right arm, and whose challenges were that much greater. Roll's commitment and passion for his vegan diet are admirable, and his single-mindedness worth paying attention to. It obviously takes a Type-A personality to do these kinds of runs. But Roll's wish to become superathletic seems less a comment on "rejecting middle age" as an extension of an addictive personality—a facet that he doesn't explore. If anything, the book is premature: more races and more time might give Roll a deeper perspective on the arc of his whole life rather than the six years or so he's been competing. Wish it had been better.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pax Gethen

    Inspiring story. As a vegan and a (very amateur) runner myself, I enjoy reading accounts from vegan athletes. It is important to note though, that Rich Roll didn't simply go from couch potato to completing five Ironman-length triathlons in a week's time on "plant power" alone. He has a will of iron, and significant athletic experience from childhood, as he meticulously documents. He also managed to graduate from Cornell law school and get a job in a high-profile law firm while not only eating th Inspiring story. As a vegan and a (very amateur) runner myself, I enjoy reading accounts from vegan athletes. It is important to note though, that Rich Roll didn't simply go from couch potato to completing five Ironman-length triathlons in a week's time on "plant power" alone. He has a will of iron, and significant athletic experience from childhood, as he meticulously documents. He also managed to graduate from Cornell law school and get a job in a high-profile law firm while not only eating the standard American junk food diet, but also suffering from the increasingly debilitating effects of alcoholism. I did appreciate the emphasis on eating unprocessed foods, though some of the concoctions he advocates may sound off-putting to those not keen on the idea of "drinking a salad for breakfast". Also, having just read The Starch Solution by Dr. John A. McDougall (whose web site is in the reference section of Rich Roll's book), I must quibble with his continued caution against eating "starchy, nutrient-poor foods". Many of the foods Rich describes eating, including lentils, quinoa, yams, beans, and brown rice, are both starchy and nutrient-rich.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I was not really expecting to enjoy this book a whole lot because it came off as somewhat self-promotional (he and his wife sell vegan supplements) and also the subtitle kind of grated on my nerves, even though that's a publishing decision. And, in fact, there were whole sections of this book that got on my nerves because it sounded a bit like listening to a dry drunk. That said, the actual story of Roll's remarkable achievements in completing two Ultraman events and the EPIC5 friend-designed se I was not really expecting to enjoy this book a whole lot because it came off as somewhat self-promotional (he and his wife sell vegan supplements) and also the subtitle kind of grated on my nerves, even though that's a publishing decision. And, in fact, there were whole sections of this book that got on my nerves because it sounded a bit like listening to a dry drunk. That said, the actual story of Roll's remarkable achievements in completing two Ultraman events and the EPIC5 friend-designed series of triathlons was really interesting and...I hate to say it...even a little inspirational, although a lot of his success seems to be something like "well my body was made for this and I ignore pain and my trainer said do this and I did and it worked." Not worth buying but worth checking out if you're suddenly fascinated with people who run/swim/bike long distances.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Sinn (Books and Trouble)

    This is going to be harsh, so I’ll begin on a good note. Rich Roll’s story of transformation is nothing short of remarkable. It really shows how substance addiction can overpower even the strongest of people. Let’s put it this way, if a man has the fortitude to complete five back-to-back Ironman races on five different Hawaiian islands, overcoming alcohol addiction should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! It took years and years until he conquered his demons and came into his own. Anyone who bel This is going to be harsh, so I’ll begin on a good note. Rich Roll’s story of transformation is nothing short of remarkable. It really shows how substance addiction can overpower even the strongest of people. Let’s put it this way, if a man has the fortitude to complete five back-to-back Ironman races on five different Hawaiian islands, overcoming alcohol addiction should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! It took years and years until he conquered his demons and came into his own. Anyone who believes all drug an alcohol addicts are weak-willed are sorely mistaken. That, in my opinion, is the most positive takeaway from this book. I’m amazed by Rich Roll’s accomplishments. Yet on a personal level, I’m less than impressed. There are some people in this world who are born into a life of privilege. They take their luxuries for granted and go through life always wanting more, more, more! Rich Roll is one of those people. The child of two loving, well-to-do parents, he had everything he needed on a silver platter. Problems with bullying? No matter. He can just go to special private school. No swimming program? That’s cool. Just get a private coach. Accidentally got drunk before meeting up with an Ivy League swim coach? No sweat, the welcome mat is there for the taking. Turns out, his Get Out of Jail Free card even works in DWI cases. Somehow he managed to avoid jail time when his case file miraculously went missing. What luck! Okay, maybe I’m bitter because I’ve never been blessed with such dumb luck. Seriously, it’s not fair! The tipping point happened when Richy Rich rear-ended a poor woman while he was slugging back a cold one on the way to the office. She was hospitalized, yet he didn’t go into detail about her injuries. Of course, he was exempt from showing any remorse because “his addict brain could not process the consequences of his actions.” Since that was the case, he just kept drinking and driving until his boss got a call from the police. Funny how he owned up to his problem and decided to get clean when his livelihood was threatened. According to his track record, this was the first time he landed in some serious trouble. Prior to this snafu, he never really had a wake-up call. After acing his way through law school in a drunken haze, he gave his school and his parents the finger at graduation by staggering barefoot across the podium. Why? Because he looked around at his fellow graduates and realized they were all mindless sheep. He had to do something totally off the wall to prove that he’s so very special. In his defense, he felt remorse for embarrassing himself and his parents. Yet even after rehab, after becoming a devout vegan, after completing the “Epic Five,” he’s still that same self-important asshole trying to prove to the world that he’s better than everybody else. Albeit he accomplished an amazing feat—impossible even. But why? What’s really going on there? Being a type-B person (at the far end of the spectrum), it’s hard to wrap my mind around this obsessive desire to risk life and limb to break a world record. Of course, it’s not a morally reprehensible thing to be the first to climb a mountain or finish a grueling race. I just don’t understand the psychology behind the fanaticism of it all. My theory is that Rich channeled his addiction into racing and extreme dieting. When it comes to eating, it’s either his way or the highway. We can either become followers of his squeaky clean eating program or die young from a horrible gluten-induced disease. Sorry, Rich. Scare tactics don’t work with me. They only piss me off. Dieting aside, you piss me off. I bet that lady you rear-ended feels the same way. If you want to read an inspiring ultra-running memoir, skip this one and read Eat and Run or Born to Run. Sure, both of these books delve into lifestyle advice that I choose to ignore. However the focus isn’t on being the best in the world. These authors run 100-plus distances because they genuinely love the sport. Reading their books, I got the sense that they ran like wild mustangs to feel happy and free. In Rich’s book, I just felt like he needed to prove something. Even after becoming one of the world’s fittest men, I have a feeling that still won’t be enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    I requested an advance reading copy of this book, since I am (1) middle-aged, (2) a runner and (3) know I should eat better. There's a lot to like about this book, but I think it tries too hard to do too much. Part battle-against-alcohol memoir, part athletic training memoir, part vegan diet advice, Finding Ultra simply shoots for too wide an audience. Roll's accomplishments are impressive, but come on, he was already a near-Olympic class athlete before he ditched alcohol and went vegan. His len I requested an advance reading copy of this book, since I am (1) middle-aged, (2) a runner and (3) know I should eat better. There's a lot to like about this book, but I think it tries too hard to do too much. Part battle-against-alcohol memoir, part athletic training memoir, part vegan diet advice, Finding Ultra simply shoots for too wide an audience. Roll's accomplishments are impressive, but come on, he was already a near-Olympic class athlete before he ditched alcohol and went vegan. His lengthy (60+ pages) account of the EPIC5 (five Ironman triathlons in five days on five Hawaiian islands) is impressive, but probably deserves its own book. The best part of the book, for me, was Roll's conversion to the vegan diet and his recommendations for readers looking for more information.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    UPDATE: When I first wrote this review, I gave it two stars, but I have upped it to three. The book was great when Rich Roll stopped telling his autobiographical story and focused on racing. In the last 50 pages, Roll writes about his participation in Epic 5. He and Jason Lester (a disabled athlete) completed five iron distance triathlons on five Hawaiian islands. The original idea was to do it in 5 days, but I think they did it in seven. That was good stuff. ORIGINAL REVIEW: For me, a large part o UPDATE: When I first wrote this review, I gave it two stars, but I have upped it to three. The book was great when Rich Roll stopped telling his autobiographical story and focused on racing. In the last 50 pages, Roll writes about his participation in Epic 5. He and Jason Lester (a disabled athlete) completed five iron distance triathlons on five Hawaiian islands. The original idea was to do it in 5 days, but I think they did it in seven. That was good stuff. ORIGINAL REVIEW: For me, a large part of my enjoyment of an autobiography comes down to how much I like the person. I didn’t like Rich Roll very much, so I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped. That is just a matter of my personal taste and the kinds of people and stories I want to read about it. It isn’t a reflection of the writing or the book itself. I was irritated almost from the very beginning. The book begins with a dramatic race. I loved the beginning. It left me excited to read the book, but then, he continues with an overview of his transformation from middle aged, out of shape junk food attack to lean, vegetarian athlete. I didn’t quite buy it. It didn’t seem believable to me, but I can’t really call him out on it, because I know very little about being a vegetarian. However, Roll tells an anecdote, near the beginning about the run that simply can’t be believed. The backstory is that he had been increasing his exercise level a bit, but not running a whole lot. Prepared for only a short jog, one day, he goes on a trail and runs for 24 miles without food or water. He felt great, and the only reason he turned back at all was because he had an important phone call he couldn’t miss. The run was wonderful, and it changed the course of his life. This story didn’t sit well with me at all. First, I don’t think it’s probable that an untrained person could run 24 miles, without stopping and without food and water. There is a limit to the amount of glycogen in our muscles. When glycogen is depleted, a person will have a very hard time moving forward. That is a physical fact. Training will cause adaptations in the body that improve the body’s efficiency and running economy. With training, a person could run 24 miles without food or water. An untrained person probably couldn’t do it at all, but certainly wouldn’t feel great doing it. If he would have said 20 miles, I would have been skeptical, but would have thought it was possible—maybe even 21 miles, but 24 miles is beyond the physical capabilities of an untrained body. Second, if an untrained person did run 24 miles at a pretty good clip (which is what he claims), even with proper nutrition, the next day that person would be very sore. Roll would have been so sore, that it would have been impossible to forget. Does it matter if he ran 10, 15, 20 or 24 miles? I think it does. It set the tone for the rest of the story. How much honesty could I really expect? With that beginning, I did not have high expectations, but my fears of a dishonest representation didn’t end up being what I didn’t like for the next 75 pages. He went on to tell the story of his decline into alcoholism. I felt like it was honest, but I just didn’t like him. It is a story of a man with absolutely everything imaginable. He had a loving family with lots of money. He went to the best schools. (no scholarship-cash from Mom and Dad paid for a Stanford education) He was highly intelligent. He had talent and the God given disposition to seek excellence in his sport. Instead of living the good life and taking his talent to the Olympics, he made choices that would have landed any person of color in jail for the rest of his life. (For ex., He got 2 DUI, actually hitting a woman, but didn't receive one minute of jail time) He completely squandered his white privilege. What it comes down to is that I have no patience for rich people manufacturing a chaotic life for no reason. He cleans up his act, but, by then, I’m was at 35% and didn’t like him very much. At that point in the the book, Roll tells of his entry into the world of endurance athletics. He doesn’t begin like most people, running a 5K, then 10K or even jumping into a half marathon. He, immediately, signed up for a marathon that he is unable to complete it due to lack of fitness and DNFs. He didn't try to figure out what went wrong. He just signed up for another marathon and DNFd, again. Instead of doing what would seem reasonable to anyone like maybe buying a book on training and conquering the marathon distance, he decides that in a mere 6 months he is going to train for one of the most elite ultra races in the world. It involves running not one but the equivalent distance of two marathons after days of swimming and biking. It is an invitational, so he calls the race director, and she just agrees to let him participate with absolutely no experience and two DNFs on the only two running races he'd ever attempted. He then, of course, hires one of the best trainers in the country. People train for years to enter elite races. What he did was essentially the same as donating your way into Boston. It’s not criminal, but it is shady. That kind of entry doesn’t offer respect to people who worked years for the privilege of competing. His actions here describe who he is—privileged with expectations that the world bend to his whims and desires. I will most definitely finish this book, but it is going to have to go on the back burner for a while.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Funston

    "Finding Ultra" is a good mini-memoir. It's less a book about becoming an elite athlete than a journey through one man's life and its roller coaster. It is some of the most interesting reading about alcoholism I have read. Roll obviously gets his author-inspiration from Scott Jurek and his book "Eat and Run" even borrowing Jurek's beginning, a "crash" moment in the middle of the larger story of an ultra-runner's life. For Jurek it was during the Badwater Ultramarathon, for Roll it was during the "Finding Ultra" is a good mini-memoir. It's less a book about becoming an elite athlete than a journey through one man's life and its roller coaster. It is some of the most interesting reading about alcoholism I have read. Roll obviously gets his author-inspiration from Scott Jurek and his book "Eat and Run" even borrowing Jurek's beginning, a "crash" moment in the middle of the larger story of an ultra-runner's life. For Jurek it was during the Badwater Ultramarathon, for Roll it was during the Ultraman competition. Though he gets his inspiration from Jurek, his writing isn't as precise and tends to be more of a chore to read. As one in recovery, Roll talks a lot about the spirituality of running and how spirituality is a necessary component of recovery. His message may find a lot of interest from the "spiritual, but not religious" crowd as his says things like, "I prayed to God. Not any God I've heard discussed before, but MY God." He also dabbles in the new-age mysticism of almost-Hinduism. Finally, the main reason I only gave this book two stars is because the whole second half of the book (once he's become sober and started training for his life as an ultra athlete) feels like one long commercial for his line of nutritional products. It seems like at least once every other page, he's mentioning one of his products and how the reader can buy it. It's really annoying and feels like it was the point of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Holy moly, talk about an ego trip.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Avalon

    It was definitely five stars of inspiration. I loved the detailed descriptions of his training and nutrition, his gear, and especially his in the moment experience of being in the ultra races, where we get to see inside the mind of self-discipline and endurance. I ate up this book in nearly one sitting. I give it four stars overall though because the final leg of this story has a best supporting actor and the other part of the story I ached for was missing. The greatest ultra challenge that Rich It was definitely five stars of inspiration. I loved the detailed descriptions of his training and nutrition, his gear, and especially his in the moment experience of being in the ultra races, where we get to see inside the mind of self-discipline and endurance. I ate up this book in nearly one sitting. I give it four stars overall though because the final leg of this story has a best supporting actor and the other part of the story I ached for was missing. The greatest ultra challenge that Rich accomplishes, the EPIC5, he does with one of his closest friends and ultra partners, Jason Lester. And though Jason is mentioned every few moments while Rich is on the trail with him, the comments are no deeper than "Jason says come on man we're almost there," or, "I look over and see Jason's face and I know he feels the same way." He never once comments on Jason's training regimen, nutrition, or what any of Jason’s internal experiences were during their EPIC5 together. That said, I fell in love with Jason anyway and I would highly recommend this book to anyone. The overall story of dedication, endurance, self-mastery, and becoming one's true self, was deeply inspiring. At the end of the book, he includes an appendix describing his nutritional approach. After reading the moment by moment descriptions of his extreme exhaustion during ironman and ultra challenges I was shocked by how quickly he experienced a recharge after eating his plantpower meals. I am huge fan of the paleo approach to eating but I was really blown away by how nourishing plants alone can be. Eating only plants and supplementing with the smallest amount of vegan supplement powders, Rich has built a body of solid muscle and awe-inspiring endurance. I am definitely forever changed from having read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lorra Fae

    Really enjoyed this - couldn't put it down, really. I see some other people commenting on the lack of HOW he did it via nutrition, and I never even noticed, I guess because I already know to some extent since I've been eating a high raw vegan diet for so long. The thing is that you can't really explain other than that...you have to DO it to really understand the difference. I did notice promotional stuff for products him and his wife sell, but it was quite minimal and hell, it's his product so ca Really enjoyed this - couldn't put it down, really. I see some other people commenting on the lack of HOW he did it via nutrition, and I never even noticed, I guess because I already know to some extent since I've been eating a high raw vegan diet for so long. The thing is that you can't really explain other than that...you have to DO it to really understand the difference. I did notice promotional stuff for products him and his wife sell, but it was quite minimal and hell, it's his product so can you blame him? I didn't find it annoying, besides you have a lot of things to choose from, he's just giving an option IF you want it. Fair enough? Better than lots of other garbage out there. It IS about diet and nutrition and it's basically about eating like 99% whole foods from plants. Just mentioning these things as other people brought them up, but I found the story riveting and inspiring. I love to see how people RADICALLY change their lives, especially LATER in life, when most people think it's too late, there's no point, etc - that is BULLSHIT. Start now, I don't care how old you are, it's never too late to get healthier.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I am happy for the author that he overcame his addiction to alcohol and turned his life around with racing and a plant based diet. However, my take home message is that these types of ultra-events are no more than exercises in narcissism. Who has that kind of time and money? As well, I felt that the book was no more than an ad for his line of nutrition products and supplements.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Almost fell off my chair at a line towards the end of the book "...it's embarrassing to recall those words. It's not like me at all to engage in such self-congratulatory hyperbole...". Oh god and now I've just noticed that he's given his own book 5 stars in the reviews. Changing my review from 2 to 1 star.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paulo

    While visiting a local bookstore, I came across "Finding Ultra" and the subtitle was enough to put it under my arm and take it to the cashier. It is easy to get lost in a sea of books recounting amazing physical and mental transformations, especially about regular people turned elite athlete, but there is usually virtue in most of these stories, some lesson to be learned. This one is no exception. Throughout these almost 300 pages, we're told the story of Rich Roll in the first person, a teenager While visiting a local bookstore, I came across "Finding Ultra" and the subtitle was enough to put it under my arm and take it to the cashier. It is easy to get lost in a sea of books recounting amazing physical and mental transformations, especially about regular people turned elite athlete, but there is usually virtue in most of these stories, some lesson to be learned. This one is no exception. Throughout these almost 300 pages, we're told the story of Rich Roll in the first person, a teenager world-class swimmer turned alcoholic who eventually sobered up, not just from alcohol but also from a dangerous fast-food addiction. In what some would call a moment of clarity, Rich felt his life escaping from him when on the evening of his 40th birthday he almost choked going up the stairs in his house. While others get caught up in their midlife crisis, he turned to a fully vegan, plant-based nutrition, which he dubbed the PlantPowered Diet, and not only recovered his health but also set superhuman fitness and training goals for himself. For Rich, Ironman-distance triathlon wouldn't cut it. It had to be Ultraman. And what about doing 5 Ironmen in a week? Together with a buddy of his, Jason, he also did just that. What I really enjoyed about Rich's story was how forthcoming, sincere and honest he comes across at all times. He's not afraid of describing his immense struggle with the bottle and how exactly he overcame it. Even when he is already super fit, he freely admits sometimes being very difficult to deal with when things go south during the insane events he got himself into. This means the story doesn't feel Hollywood-esque in any way -- it's about a man who hit rock bottom, ultimately accepted he needed help and picked himself off the ground. He doesn't preach but he does tell his story. Add to that extensive tips and descriptions of his PlantPowered Diet with numerous links to related resources and it's easy to see that for an applied amateur-ish athlete like myself, I don't regret for a second having picked this one up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

    So what do you do when you suddenly discover that you are middle-age, overweight, and out of shape--huffing and puffing when you climb a flight of stairs? If you are Rich Roll, then you go on a nutrition regimen, start training, and immediately register for a marathon race! Soon after that, he trains for an iron-man race, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike race, followed by a 26.2 mile marathon! But Rich Roll doesn't stop there. He trains for the Epic-5 challenge. T So what do you do when you suddenly discover that you are middle-age, overweight, and out of shape--huffing and puffing when you climb a flight of stairs? If you are Rich Roll, then you go on a nutrition regimen, start training, and immediately register for a marathon race! Soon after that, he trains for an iron-man race, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike race, followed by a 26.2 mile marathon! But Rich Roll doesn't stop there. He trains for the Epic-5 challenge. This is not a race, exactly, but an incredible challenge. It consists of finishing five iron-man races on five consecutive days, on five different islands in Hawaii! He finds that it is a challenge to his will power, his stamina, and even logistics. Roll, fortunately, had a lot of support from his family--his wife was very supportive. But it disturbed me that he ignores his kids for long spans of time while he is training. While I am not a runner or an exercise fanatic, I found this story to be fascinating. Roll's transformation from a typical middle-aged guy to a vegan, elite athlete is inspiring.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Felt like a sales pitch for veganism -- which it was. I looked on Rich Roll's website, and it's all about that animal-free life. Liked the memoir part, but at times it got deep into "poor white boy who fails up" territory. And that's never a way to endear yourself to a reader. Aww, boohoo, you got waitlisted and then accepted to Cornell Law?! Come. On.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lee Adams

    Kind of a Rich Roll loves himself monologue. okay story but overwhelmed by the braggadocio. I think there was a lesson mention about the importance of family but it seems like everything he talked about his family was either not present or just there to sit around and support him on these 'epic' adventures

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    A little torn. I really love his podcast...and I did like this, but it felt like three short separate books. I would like for him to have expanded on two of those areas more. Still, very inspiring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Georgiana

    "Pe fiecare din noi il asteapta o noua cale. Tot ce trebuie sa faci este sa o cauti si apoi sa faci primul pas. Daca esti acolo, si esti prezent, acest pas va deveni, in cele din urma, un urias salt inainte. Si asta o sa arate cine esti cu adevarat"

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheila DeChantal

    Right around the time that Rich Roll was about to turn 4o, he took a good hard look at his life. Nearly 50 pounds overweight he wondered if this was his future... more and more tired, no energy and unable to climb a flight of stairs without stopping to catch his breath. Rich describes himself as having a very addictive personality... he never did anything half way. If he sat his mind to something, he was going to do it... in his younger years he learned that the hard way when he decided if he was Right around the time that Rich Roll was about to turn 4o, he took a good hard look at his life. Nearly 50 pounds overweight he wondered if this was his future... more and more tired, no energy and unable to climb a flight of stairs without stopping to catch his breath. Rich describes himself as having a very addictive personality... he never did anything half way. If he sat his mind to something, he was going to do it... in his younger years he learned that the hard way when he decided if he was going to have one beer, he might as well have 10.... (but that is another story....) Rich immediately took inventory on what he had been eating and how he had been washing his years. He changed his eating habits overnight, making all processed foods off limits and made plant nutrition and working out part of his daily plan. In a few months he had turned himself completely around, now fit and a drive that was unstoppable. Finding Ultra is all about Rich's change in his eating and the way he thought about food and exercise. Once he conquered his eating habits, he then challenged himself by running and biking and eventually the Ultra Man World Championship Competition, which is by invite only, 320 miles of running, swimming, and biking. Finding ultra takes you through Rich's life, his strong desire to succeed at a young age, to his fall into alcoholism and out again. Rich's story in one of never giving up on your dreams. I really liked that this audio book was narrated by author Rich Roll himself. After all, who better to tell his story? Rich's narration of his life is well told, starting out wanting to be a swimmer even when his school did not have a swim team. What you learn quickly is once Rich sets his mind to doing something it more than likely is going to happen. Rich lays it all on the line, leaving nothing back as he shares his battle with alcohol and what it cost him. I enjoyed most his story of how he became fit again, how he tossed out all foods that were processed from his diet and never looked back. In the very end chapters Rich goes into great detail about what he ate and how he prepared it, which I found very interesting. I even tried the coconut water which he swears by for putting electrolytes back into his body after a work out. He said to freeze it so during your work out you can drink it as it thaws. Uh yeah... more power to you on that one Rich, I could not choke down the funny tasting coconut water. I enjoyed this audio version of Rich's story and found it inspiring to see that is really is never too late to make positive changes in your life. I understand that what Rich did was extreme, but even small changes can make a difference. I picked up some good tips on ordering out and work out habits.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sanju

    Hahaha ... so this guy is probably the most self-absorbed person I have ever read about. On the other hand, his Forest Gump sort of life story is like a train wreck you can't take your eyes off. It just goes on and on ... And, then, he turns into this crazy ultra-triathlete and talks about the sores on his butt. While reading, one just keeps asking, "Why?" and scratching one's head. It is like Beaches for middle-aged-fitness-junkies. You know you should just turn it off, but you don't. Well, to be Hahaha ... so this guy is probably the most self-absorbed person I have ever read about. On the other hand, his Forest Gump sort of life story is like a train wreck you can't take your eyes off. It just goes on and on ... And, then, he turns into this crazy ultra-triathlete and talks about the sores on his butt. While reading, one just keeps asking, "Why?" and scratching one's head. It is like Beaches for middle-aged-fitness-junkies. You know you should just turn it off, but you don't. Well, to be fair, the fact that this guy had his epiphany at the age of 40 or thereabouts was somewhat inspiring. The fact that he was able to re-establish his fitness and then to go beyond, so way beyond his performance levels as a youth athlete and develop the kind of endurance he does ... that is really impressive. And, it is inspirational, to say the least. But, wow, I think the only books I've read after which the author made such an impression were Ayn Rand's. Yikes! Even so, I'm glad I read this one and I could have done without ever having read any Ayn Rand. So, there's something.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    I've seen enough documentaries (forks over knives, cowspiracy to name a few) and read enough books (the china study not to mention the word of wisdom) that I think it is time I start changing the way I eat. This book is about a man who on the eve of his 40th birthday found himself winded while going up a flight of stairs. He decided that he needed to change is life. He adopted a plant based diet and started working out regularly with all the new energy he had. He started looking to compete in a I've seen enough documentaries (forks over knives, cowspiracy to name a few) and read enough books (the china study not to mention the word of wisdom) that I think it is time I start changing the way I eat. This book is about a man who on the eve of his 40th birthday found himself winded while going up a flight of stairs. He decided that he needed to change is life. He adopted a plant based diet and started working out regularly with all the new energy he had. He started looking to compete in a triathlon and he couldn't find one that had any openings. He managed to get a spot in the Ultra man race and with the help of a great trainer and throwing out everything he knew about endurance sports he got ready and was able to compete in one of the craziest races I've heard of. I'm not going to be able to change my diet cold turkey but I'm hoping to make small incremental changes and make this change that I know I need to make.

  28. 5 out of 5

    jen

    I am not a fan of memoirs, and read this specifically with hope of getting a few new tips on vegan eating for athletic performance. But I was pleasantly surprised by how well written and edited the memoir part of the book was compared to my expectations. About 3/4 of the book is the memoir, and the last section has specifics about the author's diet and training regime. Although I already have researched and read a fair amount about plant-based eating and nutrition, I still found some new ideas. I am not a fan of memoirs, and read this specifically with hope of getting a few new tips on vegan eating for athletic performance. But I was pleasantly surprised by how well written and edited the memoir part of the book was compared to my expectations. About 3/4 of the book is the memoir, and the last section has specifics about the author's diet and training regime. Although I already have researched and read a fair amount about plant-based eating and nutrition, I still found some new ideas. There is also a good resource list for books and foods, and other favorite products of the author. I would not have minded if a few recipes were included, but the author and his wife had previously released an ebook with recipes, so the exclusion is totally understandable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was hoping for inspiration but I gave up on this book after 50 pages or so. Rich Roll talked as if overcoming his addictions and changing his lifestyle were huge but I felt like he just shifted his addiction from alcohol to exercise. Which is obviously a positive change but I feel like his personality leant towards becoming obsessively athletic. And he acted like there was nothing special about him but I'm sorry, being able to go out and run 24 miles without any prior training is not normal. H I was hoping for inspiration but I gave up on this book after 50 pages or so. Rich Roll talked as if overcoming his addictions and changing his lifestyle were huge but I felt like he just shifted his addiction from alcohol to exercise. Which is obviously a positive change but I feel like his personality leant towards becoming obsessively athletic. And he acted like there was nothing special about him but I'm sorry, being able to go out and run 24 miles without any prior training is not normal. He is definitely biologically at an advantage.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Very inspiring and interesting. I love reading about runner's past and how they accomplished what they did in their career. This audio book was TERRIBLE though! I'm not sure who heard Rich Roll's voice and said "YES!! Let's let him narrate his book!" Thank goodness I listened to this while running because I'm sure I would have fallen asleep if I listened to it driving a car!

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