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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2012
Many people seem to critisise the book because of constant references to his Vitamix blender and his blend of special vegan supplements. This is a pity. I think it should be taken for what it is which is or was for me a truely inspirational and enjoyable read. I write this days before the start of the 2012 Olympics. The news over the last few days has been filled with violence and all that is broken with humanity. Yet this provided the perfect escape. The chance to indulge my imagination in positive inspirational fetes where someone does something the vast majority on the planet consider impossible. It just goes to show how amazing the body and mind are. For that I can excuse the product placement and the constant promoting of a vegan diet. As far as the author is concerned these are things that are the corner stone of his metamorphosis and therefore he has every right to be evangelical about it.

The great thing about read like this is their ability to open ones mind to new things. He like me, doesn't like the term vegan as for the vast majority of meat eaters it has massively negative connotations. By the end of the book I had developed a completely new view of veganism as well as a very healthy respect for it. Will I give up my rare steaks? Don't know - hard to imagine but I might be tempted to see what happens for 30 days say.

I like the style of the book. I never got bored reading it, in fact once he starts telling the story of his ultra triathlons and his adventures doing the EPIC5 challenge, I couldn't put it down. As a formerly fat middle aged bloke myslef who suddenly discovered fitness late in life I can really identify with the guy. It puts my own first half ironman in a few weeks time into a different light and has made me realise that when the time comes, I just have to dig deep, let the shutters come down and focus on the next 10m. I know I will remember that this guy did the impossible and so can I with the right approach. Will read again and again when I need inspiration.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2012
I've read a number of self development books and made tweaks along the way that have made a small difference here and there. But none like Finding Ultra. About 4 months before I read this book I'd embarked on a gluten free diet and a move towards vegetarianism. Why? I generally felt rubbish the way I was eating and couldn't shift the last stone of extra weight having been a runner for over 2 years but never achieved the results I knew I was capable of. Finding Ultra answered a lot of questions I had about reaching the next level, how can I improve my performance and everyday well being. I can honestly say in all my 39 years I haven't felt better now I've shifted to a predominantly plant based diet, lost the weight I needed to lose and found energy I never had before. Rich's story from college swimming success through alcoholism to ultra marathon champion is mind boggling. The book now resides in my kitchen, not the book shelf as it's packed full of great training, food & nutrition tips I'm constantly referring back to.

This is a must read for anyone looking for inspiration to get fit and healthy. It's never too late, age or weight don't matter this will give you the will to succeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2015
This book is OK. To give an objective breakdown I'll list what I liked an didn't like about it:


Its VERY easy to read. The ghost writers clearly did a good job in putting together an inspirational book detailing his adventures, without going into too much detail.
Its quite short.
I suppose its quite an inspirational story. If its all true then Rich should be commended for what he has achieved. Beating alcoholism and becoming as fit as he has.

Didn't like
The book is a massive nod to all his sponsors and the companies he's set up. He goes into detail name checking all his equipment and all the food blends he's made and is marketing. This got a bit tiring but I suppose theses are the things that allow him to do what he does and if I was in his position I'd probably do the same.
A lot of the highs seem to have been elevated and the lows brought down. He was obviously an almost Olympic swimmer well into his college years and the pictures of him at his top weight still show him looking like an athlete. He makes it sound like he was at deaths door before getting healthy but you wonder how much he is using.
He comes across as a bit preachy. Half the book is an appendix of things and don't even bother checking his website, its part TV evangelist and part marketing spin...
I'm not sure about a lot of the science. As mentioned by a lot of people he is massively pushing his lifestyle. Yes this lifestyle clearly works for him and I suppose the reader should use their discretion as this is an interesting beach read....At times it comes across a bit like he is trying to use hard science to convince us of the proven benefits of his lifestyle.


An enjoyable and easy read. Not convinced its that inspirational as I don't think he was ever really as low as he makes it sound and I also don't think whilst his achievements are impressive that they are anything like on par with some other athletes. As long as you take it all with a pinch of salt you'll probably find it an entertaining and easy read. Personally I thought Scott Jureks book - Eat to run was much more honest and interesting.
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on 24 May 2013
Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend however I understand how it may not appeal to everyone.

The book is essentially split into 2 parts: the first describes the authors early life and his descent into alcoholism whilst the second covers how he took on the challenge of an ultraman triathlon and his conversion to a plant based diet.

I found the first part of the book slightly superficial and found myself skim reading some sections. Note that i work as a therapist so perhaps would want something more "confessional" than the average reader of this type of book.

The sections of his book covering the training and preparation fro ultraman were far more interesting and enjoyable leading up to the challenge of 5 Ironman in 5 days!

I find myself disagreeing with those reviewers who feel the author is over evangelic about the vegan diet. This lifestyle is clearly an important part of Rich Roll's conversion from alcoholic to Endurance athlete and his coverage of the topic seems well researched. there is plenty of information for anyone wanting to try this for themselves.

Overall if you like this kind of book you will probably enjoy this and find plenty of inspiration for your own challenges
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2012
From the outset, I knew that I would be hooked. This was going to be one of those books about recovery and running that simply did it for me. It was not just the clearly written prose and the enjoyable pace with which it clipped along. There was something very ordinary and honest about the narrative of spiraling addiction that had me reading feverishly from the opening lines.

Chapter one is where it all starts to get juicy. Quiet literally. Here Roll describes his junk food addiction as something that he believed he was entitled to after successfully quitting alcohol during a programme some years before. He had been a promising college swimmer but he also found himself plagued by another obsession: alcohol. He describes the havoc that this caused in his personal and then post-college professional life, with his family and friends. What is interesting is the honesty with which the obsessive thinking of the alcoholic is laid bare. There is no pity, no clichéd set pieces; just the solemn dawning that things could not continue in the way that they were. He had to change. And, although, with support, Roll managed to leave alcohol behind, he soon found himself on a diet that was just as surely slowly killing him: high in fat and high in salt. His sodium levels soared just as much as his expanding waistline. On the eve of his fortieth birthday he decided that he needed to change. He needed to find ultra.

And change he did. From a lifestyle that was slowly killing him and through the miasma of middle age, junk food, TV and nicotine gum came a new obsession: one for health and a positive way of living. And central to that was his wife's passion for fruit and vegetables, raw, cooked, steamed and juiced.

Roll describes his reluctance to think of himself as remotely `hippy' or `alternative'. He also describes the torment of being caught in the alcoholic's frame of mind: if I do this, I'll need more. So not content with going on a diet, Roll used the night before his 40th birthday as the motivation needed to change. Detox because veganism, and energised as he was, he realised that he needed more challenge, more life, more rejection of middle age. Not content with running a marathon or even an Ironman, Roll persuaded the organiser of what seems like an impossible event to give him a place: five full iron-distance triathlons on consecutive days.

Like the Epic-5 event, this is a book of different stages. The second half of the book moves away from his clearly written prose about his early years: college, swimming, junk food and alcohol and moves into some vivid descriptions of suffering and recovery. There is no doubting Roll's sincerity and enthusiasm for a new way of life. California offers the landscape and the sea, the space and the climate to embrace the outdoors. It's all too easy, in the wet and windy north west of England to dismiss the narrative as that of yet another middle class hipster transforming himself through a landscape where, to quote Ferlinhetti `as if anything is possible'. But unlike Ferlinghetti's poem there is no cynicism here. Like some of his other California based ultra-distance athlete it is hard not to be swept away by the conviction of his arguments and the fluidity of his prose. I am not yet a convert to veganism, but I am converted to Roll's passion for not accepting your lot as you approach the turning point of the middle decade. This book will leave you wondering what is possible. Roll's gift, is of course, to give it away in order that he might keep it. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 21 November 2014
Very interesting book with a great story behind. Much more than just another story about successes and failures at some race events. Could be compared to Born to Run in that respect. It has been great watching the guy transforming himself into superhuman. However, some aspects of author's life and abilities at later stages are not exactly clear. How does he manage to survive such amounts of training without getting seriously injured or burned out? He surely has a very strong spirit built while being great teenage athlete (swimmer) but that is IMHO not enough for becoming superman. All in all, if you like reading stories about extraordinary athletes this one is really remarkable. However, if you've just read Born to Run and maybe Eat and Run you are likely to miss the big message (like e.g. "learn to run the right way" or "get vegan"). That does not say you will not like the book. You will.
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on 31 August 2014
Still reading this and loving it so far.Enjoyable and inspirational,he tells it as it is.I know folks have grumped about references to his Vitamix,but anyone who's tried to drink a green smoothie that's gritty,bitter & sticks in your throat will appreciate that anything that makes them both palatable & slip down easily has to be worth it,& yes it does this(!).I like his style of writing & am finding his story fascinating.I'm trying to improve my fitness-&it's VERY trying,this book is helping me to get on with it & not give up (along with Jillian Michaels barking at me via a dvd).It's brilliant to read about someone achieving so much on a vegan 'diet'.I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for inspiration regarding their personal fitness,because yes,you can do it too.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2012
Half of this book is an enjoyable account of how a life can be turned around to achieve something truly amazing. Unfortunately for the other 50% of this book I felt like a was stuck in an ad break. The constant product pushing was a real turn off for me. The narrative tends to jump around and sometimes I was left wondering if I had somehow jumped back a few pages by accident.

Unfortunately this book just didn't quite match up to expectation and to some of the truly inspiring and engaging stories out there (Mud, Sweat and Tears - An Irish Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery by Moire O'Sullivan being a great example). It's not a terrible book, but one which could have been so much better.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2012
This book is a must for ultra runners. Really gives depth on how diet can dramatically affect performance - a sound vegan diet can produce the goods to support the training. An excellent read I couldn't put it down
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on 23 December 2013
As an age group ironman triathlete, who has written my own book "ironman: jam, gels and isotonic". I was curious about this book because the author has done an ultra. He immediately got kudos for this but this became only a part of the story. It turns out he was bullied, became a schoolboy champion swimmer, alcoholic and lawyer. He speaks candidly about his life's journey, which is refreshing. I love how he described the pain he was in when he was doing back to back ironman in Hawaii. I was literally laughing out loud, as I can relate to that, including verbally abusing the support team. I would love to meet Rich Roll one day, as he is at true inspiration and champion athlete !!
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