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

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,793 ratings  ·  427 reviews
Finding Ultra is Rich Roll’s incredible-but-true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever.

One cool evening in October 2006, the night before he was to turn forty, Rich experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight at the time and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Harmony (first published January 1st 2012)
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Rich Roll
Feb 21, 2012 Rich Roll rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
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
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
A Patrick
"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
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
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
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 ...more
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 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.
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 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
I enjoyed this quite a bit. Roll's voice was considerably more humble than similar ultra-endurance competitors-turned-authors I've read (see Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed), which made it much easier to read. I was especially fascinated by his account of the Epic5, where he and a friend completed five iron-distance tris on five different Hawaiian islands in under a week. Yikes.

A few negatives: For some reason, certain memoir authors seem to feel the need to describe things in excruciating detail, wh
I love endurance sports and learning about nutritional ideas. Knowing that Rich Roll was a fat guy who turned his life around and became one of the most incredible athletes on the planet was inspiring.

Rich goes into some of his early years which sets the stage for things that caused massive trauma in his early college years. If you have an alcohol or drug problem this will be a book that could make a huge different in your life, I don't, but still thought it was impressive that he turned it arou
Rebecca Jo
This is my kind of book.
Love to hear of an inspiring story - & this was. A man who had a hard start in life battling alcohol & then found sobriety... & then let the fun of aging get to him. Rich Roll realized he was missing out on life when at 40 yrs old, he couldnt get up a flight of stairs without feeling like he was going to have a heart attack. He was determined to make changes.... & changes he made. The story of his journey to an ultraman & to a feat that no one had ever
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll is both an autobiography and a guide for those, who want to become more healthy and fit, or even start some serious sports training.

The first half of the book tells the story of author’s life before the pivotal moment, when he decided to change his diet and eventually embraced the endurance training. I didn't find this part particularly interesting.

The second half focuses on Rich’s life as a serious endurance athlete. It provides detailed account of his participation i
Mar 20, 2013 Sanju rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sanju by: Subodh
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
Loy Machedo
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

Finding Ultra is like finding two books rolled into one.
1) The 1st half is the Authors personal battle with his demons, his vices and his destructive lifestyle which was decimating him and how he vanquished them in an incredible epic journey of surprises.
2) The second half is based on Scientific Proven Health, Diet and a Vegan Lifestyle.

Why must you read this book?
1) If you are seeking inspiration, motivation and a role model to help you g
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Finding Ultra is an excellent story of transformation.

Rich Roll was a former athlete who had lost it to alcoholism. While he did gave up drinking, his lifestyle as a lawyer and a family man took centre stage and his former level of fitness was just a lost aspect of his youth. Determined to get in shape to avoid heart disease which had been fatal in his family, Rich Roll discovered that his lifestyle changes allowed him to exceed his own expectations and eventually become known as one of the wor
Lenny Grossman
So, you look at the cover of this book and the title and it says it all. Here is one of those extraordinary athletes who was amazing since he was a kid and it's going to be a rousing story of his climb to the top of the world of ultra sports. But wait, Rich Roll had some demons to overcome and some serious turns in his life to make before becoming what he is today. This is a fascinating story of a guy who was a natural swimmer, was terrific at the sport in high school and then went on to Stanfor ...more
While stirring and fun to read, Rich Roll's story of transformation from alcoholic couch potato into an ultra-Ironman also left an overly-commercial taste in my mouth. While he does spend most of his time sticking to the story and keeping the narrative going, there are many dropped mentions of products that he happens to offer and their benefits. There were just a few too many plugs along the lines of, 'I totally changed my life with this new diet, and you can too if you buy my cookbook and my n ...more
Born to Run is a better book. Maybe this book annoyed me because Rich Roll was ALWAYS an athlete - he was a champion swimmer. And in his "fat" picture he's still got obvious muscles. Also, he came from a very privileged family that put him in private schools. I guess it seems less like an "extraordinary" story to me for those reasons. I do have great empathy for his alcoholism and admire the way he buckled down and conquered it. Also, kudos for being honest about being a slacker at various jobs ...more
I really really really wanted to like this book. I thought that there was much more to be said, but it fell short. I would have liked to learn more about plant-based nutrition and less about his new line of products, and supplements.

And therein lies the main problem. The sales pitch never ends. We don't even get a recipe for a green smoothie, instead we get an ad for his jai repair smoothie.

Head to the bookstore and read appendix 1. It's the most informative chapter, but it does refer you to a
A good read for runners, or for those needing some motivation to kick a bad habit. The author did his best to ruin his life, but was able to redefine himself and become a healthier, and better person. There is not a lot of training-related information in the book, but the author does have a website, which has his nutrition plan and some training info, I suppose (I haven't looked at it yet). I don't think I'll go vegan, or even become an ultra athlete of his level... he seems to have to take thin ...more
This book was a real disappointment. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t warm to the narrator and his “adventures”, and I am not sure if this was simply due to the writing style or a reflection of the author’s personality. It was all “me me me” and there was no real sense of his relationships with other people. Another thing that was missing was any real sense of the other athletes he competed with, and trained with. I suspect he came across many interesting characters, but none of these people were pr ...more
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“The prize never goes to the fastest guy,” Chris replied. “It goes to the guy who slows down the least.” True in endurance sports. And possibly even truer in life.” 2 likes
“when the mind is controlled and spirit aligned with purpose, the body is capable of so much more than we realize.” 1 likes
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