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

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  14,982 ratings  ·  1,180 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
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,982 ratings  ·  1,180 reviews


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Start your review of Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
Rich Roll
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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.
Pat
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Matt
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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Sean Barrs
This book is a strong proponent for plant-based living, but one with many drawbacks

Firstly I’m going to tell you a story, a story that will hopefully highlight the positives of this book before I get into the negatives.

When I was seventeen years old, I climbed a flight of stairs going to class. I was out of breath and my chest hurt afterwards. I went dizzy. I thought I was going to pass out. My body could not handle that simple stress. I was six stone overweight and completely inactive. It
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Willie
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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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 ...more
Kris Madaus
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Scott
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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Martin Rowe
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Tom
May 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Pax Gethen
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dan
Sep 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Holy moly, talk about an ego trip.
Jenn Gruden
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: warrior-reading
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
Linda
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Patrick Funston
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
"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
...more
Andy
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Jessica
Jun 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
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
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David
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, fitness
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
...more
Lorra Fae
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Sharon
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Jennifer
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
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.
Lee Adams
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Cristin
Nov 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Rich is one of the most self-absorbed, whiny and self-aggrandizing jerks I've ever read. He pretends to understand the immense privilege he has, but comes off as clueless. There's even multiple excruciating paragraphs in which he pouts that someone bought him Thai food instead of organic vegan whole food smoothies or something. Get a grip dude, you are completely insufferable.
Christine
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! While I have always been a fan of Rich Roll due to his podcast, I feel like I have a better picture of who he is as person through this telling of his own journey as it continues to evolve. It's rich with wisdom while also challenging the reader to charter his/her own course. Even if you're not a runner or ultra triathlon competitor, you will find this book a treat in so many ways.
Jesse
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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Marcelo Menezes
I'm a triathlete, so this book has been waiting a long time on my list. I'm not vegan, but I have nothing against it.

Rich's history of overcoming addiction and embracing ultra endurance is very inspiring and I could not stop reading it. Especially the lows of his alcoholic shanenanigans (I can't resist a sad story).

Some reviews have stressed that he is an asshole born into privilege. Yeah, he might be a bit of that, but we all have our flaws, and he seemed to me to be a great guy overall.

The gre
...more
Stefán
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, influential and inspiring. A good measurement of its effect on me is a sudden decision to go vegan and sign up for an iron man 70.3.

Highly recommended to anyone in personal development when it comes to health and fitness.
Paulo
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Nichole Tompkins
Train your mind, find your song and reframe your story. I’ve had this book for years, I have no idea why or where I got it, but it was meant for me this year! My life was unexpectedly turned upside down and I am on a journey described in these pages. An inspirational biography not exclusively about fitness, but rather about regenerating the body and spirit. The book encourages the reader to look at your life differently and seek out your passions; making changes that you forgot about, or that yo ...more
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