An incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever
In October 2006, the night before he was to turn forty, Rich experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he saw where his sedentary lifestyle was taking him. Most of us look the other way when granted such a moment of clarity, but not Rich. Plunging into a new way of eating that made processed foods off limits and prioritized plant nutrition and daily training, Rich morphed—in mere months—from out-of-shape midlifer to endurance machine. Ninety days into his physical overhaul, Rich left the house for a light jog and found himself running a near marathon. It was time to scale up his goals.
How many of us take up a sport at age forty and compete for the title of the world’s best within two years? Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman World Championship competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans against each other in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. Following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the Epic5 Challenge—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.
This is more than an inside look at a series of jaw-dropping athletic feats or a practical training manual for those who would attempt a similar transformation. Yes, Rich’s account rivets and instructs, providing information that will be invaluable to anyone who wants to change their physique; but this book is most notable as a powerful testament to human resiliency, for as we learn early on, Rich’s life has posed numerous physical and social challenges, including a fierce battle with alcoholism.
Ultimately Finding Ultra is a beautifully written portrait of what willpower can accomplish. It challenges us to rethink what we’re capable of and urges us, implicitly and explicitly, to “go for it.”
©2012 Richard David Roll (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“You walk away from reading this book knowing you have the total power to transform your life on every level…Roll is immensely likeable, a most compelling storyteller, and a true shaman of health and fitness!” (Kathy Freston, New York Times best-selling author)
“Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra is a testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle, break down walls, and redefine what's possible.” (John Brenkus, creator and host of ESPN’s Sport Science and New York Times best-selling author)
“I loved this. A rare book, unusual for its honesty and willingness to bare all, that really does deserve such superlatives as ‘riveting’ and ‘compelling.’ I was moved by watching Roll conquer his demons and felt privileged to share in his eventual enlightenment. By laying it on the line, Roll absolutely wins us over.” (Rip Esselstyn, New York Times best-selling author)
This was a very nice autobiography/memior, made more special because it was narrated by the author. Did I leave it thinking "well if he can do it, I can too?" No. But am I impressed with him? Yup!
I enjoyed Finding Ultra. Unlike many of the other reviews, I did not find it self serving and egotistical. Rather quite self aware, open and honest. The description of the ultimate challenge (5 iron men in 5 days) was particularly self-aware and quite inspiring. Rich had no problem delving into his failings in some detail, concentrating however, on how he had found ways to struggle past them.
Rich Roll talks about finding his way out of alcoholism with some "belief" and this, along with some (though not all) of the "science" behind his diet choices is a bit jarring for me. As a dedicated rationalist, I find these things do not mesh with my world view, however, it is clear that they have worked for Rich and helped him fight and vanquish his demons. So they add value to the book - despite my discomfort :)
A life-long vegetarian/almost vegan, Finding Ultra and Eat and Run have helped me get back into long distance running and concentrate more closely on my fuel. Including learning to eat real food during a run.
All and all a good listen, inspirational and Rich's performance reading is very well done.
Motivational Fitness Journey
The author gives a first hand account of how he transformed his life from an overweight middle-aged ex alcoholic, to one of the fittest men in the world.
Yes, it definitely hits you when you realize the personal sacrifices made in not only transforming oneself to over come alcoholism, but also the training and discipline needed to be a world-class athlete.
I almost didn't get this because of mixed reviews but I am glad I did. I would consider this a must-read for an endurance athlete but it's also very motivating to most people, I would think. Rich takes us through his personal journey from being an alcoholic slacker in college and how that nearly ruined his life, to a world-class athlete.
Runner. Geek. twitter: @timothysolomon
I've listened to most of Rich Roll's podcasts, so it was great to hear his familiar voice reading his own book. I really appreciate writers who have the guts to read their own book, and in this case it makes the story much more personal and involving.
Well worth the listen!
I was a plant based believer and a iron woman want-to-be by the end of the preface!
as an athlete who has not always been an athlete - and who has overcome the marathon of life prior to falling in love with running/outdoor adventure sports - I felt like this was my story filled with hope and excitement!!
best quote: "my body was humming with excitement and possibility"
and that's how I felt every chapter...
he is genuine and practical.
Probably not. It has some good information in it, but the overall feel is that he is a spoiled little brat wallowing in self pity.
The Narrator!!!!! Uurgh. Rich Roll should NOT have narrated his own book. Major downfall for the overall performance.
His monotone, dreary, woe is me voice.
No. The world can only handle one of him. Rich Roll needs to get over himself.
While I enjoyed the details of Rich Roll's training and healthy eating habits this book fails to deilver the power Born To Run gave its listeners. The author's own selfishness oozes out from your ipod as you listen, in rather overdramatic fashion, the length he went to fulfill his passion.
No, not unless it was ghost-written.
No, forced emotion and misplaced emphasis was annoying.
Yes, on many levels.
Disappointment at how such a great story fell flat.
About as painful as an ultra event was listening to the empty whining that littered this book. Although I eagerly anticipated the story of a cheeseburger couch potato turned vegan ultra athlete, the book was an "epic" (you'll understand that reference if you make it through the book) failure. His story, which as all the underpinnings of a great tale, faltered chapter after chapter with self-indulgent writing only exacerbate by an awful choice of narrator ... the author. At least Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man) was an engaging narrator as he read his own story of his "personal greatness."
Ironically, the real hero of the book was Roll's Epic5 partner, Jason Lester.
Sadly, the book may give the impression to the uninitiated that all ultra athletes are such self-absorbed, vacuums of attention and need. Quite the opposite is true. The ultra community is "normal" people who just enjoy endurance events that, at first glance, seem crazy.
The ability of someone like Rich Roll or Scott Jurek to be at the peak of ultra endurance competitiveness on a plant-based diet is nothing short of astonishing. The only bright spot of this book is that it gives a glimpse into the diet of a vegan ultra athlete. That almost makes the book worth a listen.
I was expecting to be motivated to further my fitness dreams. Instead I got 9 hours of talking about what a alcoholic the author was earlier in his life...
I don't know yet.
His voice lacked any expression, totally monotone, almost unbearable and I was unable to listen through to the end of the book.
Shorten some of the descriptive elements. Individual stories, such as the long winded details of the run towards the end of the book were really tedious.
Never allow this man to narrate a book again. Money should be refunded for such dreadful reading.
Funny, heartwarming & intense. A great story by a very inspirational guy. Some motivational tips on both running and nutrition too.
"get up and change your life"
enthusiastic narration, and an interestng story
Born to Run, by Chris MacDougal. Both are explorations of possibility.
It's an autobiography, stupid!
Rich's cessation of his chemical/drink behaviours. Been there, done that. It resonates.
Think bigger about yourself: there's a lot to learn from this book.
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