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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 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 28 April 2017
A horrible book full of pseudoscience and frankly dangerous advise from someone who's clearly unqualified to offer any health or nutrition guidance. The vast majority of people who followed this books advise would end up in hospital, the idea that someone who's overweight with issues around food could change their deeply ingrained habits overnight and run four hours straight on a "juice cleanse" is insane.

The book is very misleading, the author wasn't hugely overweight to begin with and had previously been very athletic so this isn't the tale of a 300lb man losing half his body weight and becoming the fittest man on earth in a year. Putting ideas like that into people's head is dangerous and irresponsible, if Rich Roll's story is to be believed as it's written in this book then he is an extreme outlier and not representative of 99.9% of the population. It may motivate a lot of people when the first read the book but his goals are utterly unrealistic for most of us mortals and probably undesirable anyway so I imagine a lot of people will go vegan for a few days before returning to the burgers because this book doesn't address the real reasons so many people find it hard to lose weight and get fit and to stay that way, mainly because the author doesn't know why, he's not qualified in any way, just someone who's evangelical about plant based diets with a worrying approach to exercise.

I was hoping to read a book about an improbable transformation of an overweight middle aged man into a super fit athlete with the understanding that it probably wouldn't apply to my life, I was just keen to read about someone elses path to fitness and to get some gritty tales of long distance running and various injuries along the way etc but instead I was reading something that written in the tone of a Scientologist with constant proselytising about veganism and other dubious diet claims. The author comes across as a somewhat self-obsessed narcissist with no real appreciation of other people's struggles, he utterly loves himself and thinks he's just awesome and it grates after a while.

If you're overweight and finding it hard to exercise and lose weight and you're looking for motivation then avoid this book, it'll do more harm than good.
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on 28 June 2013
Other reviews put this book & it's author down for pretty much blatant advertising, but hey, if you used the products, or produced your own products & could increase your income through a bit of name dropping, then big deal. He is, after all, appealing to a very small section of society & won't be expecting much income from the book - you can't give the guy too hard a time when you consider these aspects. Also, taking a positive slant on this aspect, maybe if your a new comer to all this, then a few brand names will point you in the right direction - it's your free choice to buy what you think best meets your needs, of course a brain is required...

Anyway, I've done a large array of sports from gymnastics to bodybuilding to triathlons, etc. & had always followed the "recommendations" on dairy foods, meat, fish, fruit & veg, however, I've never felt "quite right" after eating any dairy products & most meats, but always thinking "must get enough protein". Symptoms such as aching joints, elevated heart rate, lethargy, etc. always occurred, but I ignored them for decades.

In the last few years my health had slowly deteriorated, despite following the "guidelines" & trying to maintain consistent exercise programs, my weight continued to increase & I was regularly ill, the aching joints & general feeling of 'crappiness' continued. I've tried many supplements, some of which, admittedly did help.

Then, quite by chance, I came across this guy's book. I initially purchased it out of mere curiosity, but as I read I found many comparisons with my own life. Suffice to say I identified with him on many levels & I can truly say his story is both enthralling & utterly inspiring. After reading the book I've converted to a mostly, but not exclusively, vegan diet. All I can try to convey is how radically different & energised I now feel, everyday!

The joint pains & constant niggling injuries have gone & although there's a chasm between his fitness & mine, I can honestly say I've not done this much exercise, recovered so quickly or felt this healthy since I was a teenager & that was 21 years ago!!! - despite the old "can't get enough protein if you don't eat meat & dairy foods, whey protein, etc". If you want to read an awesome & inspiring story & might want to learn a bit or two about an alternative, but nutritionally & ethically sound lifestyle as you go along, then you won't be disappointed.
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on 29 October 2013
This guy goes from fat alcoholic to very quickly doing ultraman and back-to-back ironmans and getting elite level finish times. This justifies the accolades of "stunning" and "amazing".

Maybe this is just my (very) jealous self talking but I didn't find it inspirational. This guy has either or all - a stupendous physiology, a robotic mastery of his mind and the "I don't wanna run/bike/swim/walk do anything today" voice, a brilliant coach or a ton of money to ease some of the challenges. Anyway, not much of his athletic journey (or his life in general) chimes with mine and I couldn't really relate to it or to him. He is not my hero; I view him as a creature from another planet.

One insightful little tidbit is how his coach makes him do weeks and weeks firmly in HR zone 2, jogging at a crawl if needs be. Note to self.

But if anything it's put me off a bit - if there are people who can pull that out of the hat then I should swap my sidis for slippers. His accomplishments are a wide eyed wow.

What was interesting is his diet. He goes vegan but very professionally and credibly. My own attempts at veganism were in student days when I just didn't do it even remotely properly. Mine was a silly diet of exclusion whereas his is a diet of variety and inclusion. I'd written it off but I am now re-inspired to become an "improved vegetarian". I have been hearing a lot lately about other elite endurance athletes (e.g. Chrissy Wellington) swearing by their veganism.

There is some product placement but I don't mind that and he's up front about it. I like getting tips and I use the web to validate.

His reformed alcoholic journey could be inspiring. This is not very interesting to me and he doesn't devote a whole lot of book time to it but it is another achievement. (And perhaps his sporting prowess is the other side of an addictive personality coin?).

I am giving him 4 stars but admit I may be penalising him a point due to my jealousy (sorry).
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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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on 12 September 2013
if rob was made of chocalate he would lick himself to death,he spout's crap about other people,remember rob what works for you may not work for some one else
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on 29 July 2016
I first heard of Rich Roll as he appeared on a podcast. His delivery was unusual, thoughtful and had no real hype, somewhat of a contrast with the usual self-promoting styles within the space. His story combined endurance sport, diet and lifestyle. His ability to be articulate and come across as a man who was looking to simply pursue a life he chose made me want to purchase and read his book.

I have read his book and I now follow his podcast. He is inspired and inspiring. His writing is simple yet conveys his life and his thoughts in such a communicative manner that it would seem his story is being shared intimately across a dinner table. His writing is as articulate as his speech, whether it is because he is naturally reflexive or due to his career path, either way he choses his words and has learned to balance them with peppered silence. He is undoubtedly a lighthouse for all willing to attempt either a new diet, new health style or seek endurance sports. He has with his wife shared how to build a healthy family around a healthy lifestyle. His podcast continues to share his mission by creating awareness and sharing the paths of many inspiring people.
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on 28 March 2015
As I hurtle towards the end of my fifth decade I realised I could no longer run sub-3 hour marathons, or even knock on the door of a seven minute mile. So I have not competed since the 90s and plodded along until I had a brainwave - (or went mad) - what if I could run slowly, but for a long way? First a year trimming down and running under 9s beyond 10 miles - then search for ultra. First came Dean Karnazes then eventually 'Finding Ultra' by Rich Roll. This is a good read for anyone who is unsure there is way, or way back, to fitness as the years go by. Several Americal ultra runners have similar stories, including Karnazes, and there is often a little diet faith attached as born again fitness needs a dogma. This apart, there is enough to encourage us older once wases to try to set new personal bests by going further. Rich Roll has done some incredible ultra triathlons and is honest enough to share his pain and his dogma. It could be the dogma is the key! Well worth adding to your library and to pick up to read if things look impossible. Good running and good reading to all.....
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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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