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Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself Hardcover – May 22, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 745 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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 bestselling author of The Perfection Point
“If you liked Born to Run, you’ll love Finding Ultra…one of the best books about health and fitness that I’ve ever read.”
--Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Finding Ultra is the ultimate story of hope, perseverance and endurance against life’s biggest challenges.”
--William Cope Moyers, New York Times bestselling author of Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption
“Roll has accomplished amazing things, but it is his ability to draw inspiring and uniquely insightful lessons from his experiences that sets him apart from other extreme athletes. Finding Ultra is a fascinating read full of practical tips.”
--Dean Karnazes, nationally bestselling author of Ultramarathon Man
Finding Ultra is about a journey we all take as human beings, when we decide to pursue the impossible and live a life of mission. When I need to dig deeper, push harder, and find a little boost, Rich Roll is the guy who comes to mind.  He is inspiration embodied.”
--Sanjay Gupta, M.D., Emmy Award-winning Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN and New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Life and Cheating Death
“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 bestselling author of Quantum Wellness and Veganist
"This awesome piece of writing – one-part memoir, one-part how-to, and one part megadose of gut truth – reminds us to wake up and live our best life.  Prepare to be entertained, but most of all, prepare to be inspired.”
--Mel Stewart, 14-Time National Champion, former World Record Holder, and Winner of Two Olympic Gold Medals in swimming
“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 bestselling author of The Engine 2 Diet
“An incredibly inspirational book about achieving greatness at any age through self-belief and a positive attitude.  Rich Roll is a true champion of life and sport."
--Levi Leipheimer, Two-Time Stage Winner of the Tour de France and Olympic Time-Trial Bronze Medalist
"Finding Ultra is an inspired first-person account of fast living and even faster swimming, biking and running that will leave you convinced of the power of your own will."
--Brendan Brazier, bestselling author of Thrive
“A tribute to the fortitude of the human spirit, and the power each of us has to grab hold of our life and achieve the unexpected.  For anyone who feels stuck, Rich offers sage advice on everything from relationships to lifestyle to diet to spiritual well-being.”
-Dave Zabriskie, Five-Time National Time-Trial Champion in cycling
 “An inspiring story of a man whose life took a tragic turn but then rebounded spectacularly.  Down but not out, Rich Roll rose like a phoenix, taking the commitment to his own health to a new level and achieving a remarkable transformation. I believe everyone will be able to relate to this plant-powered athlete’s riveting story and perhaps garner some inspiration for their own journey.  A top read!”
-Luke McKenzie, Five-Time Ironman Champion

About the Author

Rich Roll has been featured on CNN and has been named “one of the world’s 25 fittest men” by Men’s Fitness magazine. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children and, when he isn’t training or competing, manages the entertainment boutique Independent Law Group, LLP.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1st edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307952193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307952196
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (745 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've really come to enjoy books about healthier living, from fitness to improving one's food intake ('diet' is a dirty word!). I've lost a lot of weight myself through improved eating habits and more exercise. Roll's life story is similar to a lot of folks, who struggle with bad diet and addiction (in his case primarily alcohol, but food can obviously be an addiction too). He makes radical changes and voila, he's one of the fittest guys on the planet, competing in ultras.

I generally liked the book, particularly some of the information about becoming vegan, and the hidden dairy in products one wouldn't expect to find in some everyday foods- the dairy thing really opened my eyes and has made me begin to look even more closely at what I eat. He reaches a point where he decides to make wholesale changes in his life, and that is a moment I reached as well. It was the point of the book that I most identified with the author; the single moment when we decide that we must make sacrifices to grow and become better people spiritually and physically.

What I didn't like was that early in the book, he details his struggles with alcohol, and subsequent stint at rehab for several chapters, but then suddenly there's a chapter about his PlantPower diet, and how great it will make you feel. The enthusiasm for his diet did not match the preceeding chapters and felt really out of place- almost like a commercial break. The diet really had nothing to do with his recovery, since the fitness bug didn't truly hit him until several years into his sobriety.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Finding Ultra is like two books in one.

There is the first half where the author's life falls apart and and is then rebuilt. It's the basic, and always fascinating, story of personal recovery from addiction. I wanted to hear more about this.

But this story is abruptly dropped and the second half of the book is all about the author's drive to excel at ultra ironman competitions. This part is far too ego driven for comfort. The hero is very heroic and his followers are faithfully supportive and that's about it.

Throughout his life, as chronicled in Finding Ultra, vast numbers of people help Rich. But it hard to find any examples of Rich helping anybody else. "Hey Dude," I wanted to shout, "tons of people helped you straighten out. How about you give something back?" But it was not to be. This book is a pure paean to the glory of self.

The sections on diet and health were interesting but lacked substance. The author more or less says, "I chose to eat this way and look how amazing it made me. Therefore it is THE BEST way to eat."

If you really enjoy reading about a guy running and biking insanely long distances and don't mind an author with a massive ego you will probably enjoy this book. It's well written and easy to read. But if you like to see a fair amount of depth, balance, introspection and a certain awareness of others in an autobiography then this book is likely not for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm going to be harsh, because frankly I just didn't like this book. I found it boring, albeit I did read the book in it's entirety, probably because it actually starts out well in the first page or two and so I guess I kept hoping it'd get better; however it actually just kept getting worse.

To begin with, (I could be wrong) but I believe that one main premise of this book is that the author starts out in "middle age" being fat and out of shape and then through a miraculous transformation becomes an elite endurance athlete. Or in other words, he was once just an average Joe down on his luck who found endurance sports and then "beat the odds" to become a racing pro.

I would argue that this just isn't true.

For one, the author tells you about how in college he was a world class swimmer, almost beating some of the best in the world, only to then "fall from grace" because of alcoholism. Now... > 90% of all triathletes will tell you that they suck at swimming, "it's my worst event", they'll tell you. So, anybody who can go out in the open water on any day and swim 2.4 miles in 50 minutes (which will get you out of the water in 1st to 3rd place in any Ironman in the world) just doesn't get credit in my book as someone who is an "average guy".

In addition to this, the author tells about how he went out on his first run and just kept going for 2 hours or something like that. So, he's lucky to have either good genetics or natural form to allow him to run long without injury unlike most people. Again, this isn't a story that an "average joe triathlete" will tell you. Some people are blessed with excellent recovery times, it's obvious that the author is one of those people; this makes a world of difference.

And then, on top of all of that, he's a lawyer.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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