• Finding Ultra

  • Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
  • By: Rich Roll
  • Narrated by: Rich Roll
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (4,199 ratings)

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Finding Ultra

By: Rich Roll
Narrated by: Rich Roll
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Publisher's Summary

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 40, Rich experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly 50 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 40 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”. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2012 Richard David Roll (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“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)

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incoherent melodrama

I have done several ironman triathlons & marathons and I have been interested in doing ultras so I was looking forward to this. The story line of a talented elite athlete squandering his talent because of alcohol then turning his life around (partially) through proper diet and sport is an inspiration. The story as written inspired me to turn it off. His musings are contradictory and idiotic. In one statement, he will claim that his time away from work to train didn't affect his family's finances. Soon after, the attorney with a rich client base states that he couldn't buy food during a long ride as his bank account was overdrawn. To make the tale even more illogical, he then claims his out of body experience was not the result of low blood sugar (an experience that many an athlete has experienced) but rather an epiphany or other mystical event. When he started in on the spiritual gods of the Hawaiian volcanoes, I just could take any more and had to cut my loses.

148 people found this helpful

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Great book....but

I really found this book most enjoyable and inspiring. Being read by the author (who does an excellent job of it) also given credibility. It would be great, however, if the appendices with Rich's recipes etc could be made available as a pdf for download because those elements of the book don't lend themselves to audio.

39 people found this helpful

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Impressive but not recommended

His athletic and other accomplishments are impressive, no question.

But I feel the title and description are misleading.
A more accurate (and unwieldy) title might be "Confessions of a College Athlete: How Alcohol Ruined My Life and How I Rebuilt It With Training, Veganism, and Spirituality ."

What I liked:

* whatever his background, his transformation is indeed inspirational
* the description of the training prescribed by his coach offers good pointers for more research
* however flawed his reasoning, it's great to see someone dispelling harmful stereotypes about vegans
* he certainly is honest
* self-narration adds something

What I didn't like:

* Endless melodrama. I didn't need an unabridged confession of his many alcohol-related sins.
* Misleading: he started out as a world-class athlete.
* Ridiculous arguments: "I switched to cheese pizza and didn't feel great. So vegetarianism is bad; you have to go vegan."
* Ridiculous spiritualism: "Some guy warned me away with a gun when I was relieving myself on his property in the middle of the night with a flashlight. It must be because I didn't show proper respect to the island deities."
* Poor science: most of his nutritional advice is backed by "I drink/eat this and I'm an ultra man."
* Conceitedness: to his credit he cites instances of this as his failures. But still I get the impression of thinly-veiled contempt for non-vegans.
* Self-promotion: this is minor, but I still found off-putting the few times he mentions that "by the way I sell a vegan power drink"

37 people found this helpful

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Two Different Books

The first half (first file of the download) focuses on the authors struggles with alcohol. The real story of the ultraman begins in the second half. It is a fantastic story of what a person can accomplish and endure at any age. I was inspired to workout harder and eat different. Beginning with vegan dinner and we will see how it goes from there.

28 people found this helpful

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Not all there...

Any additional comments?

The story is really interesting. I listened to the entire book very quickly, however... resources are referenced within the appendices of the book many times. The resources are not provided with the purchase of this audio book though... very disappointing.

25 people found this helpful

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Helped Change My Life!

What made the experience of listening to Finding Ultra the most enjoyable?

While his semi-nasal, dispassionate voice drives others that happened to hear some of it crazy, I really liked the fact that this was read by Rich Roll himself.

Any additional comments?

I'd already committed to my program of getting fit and healthy prior to listening to to this. Listened to some books like It's Not About The Bike (Lance), I'm Here To Win (Macca), read Iron War and been working out consistently and changing my diet. That being said, I took a lot from Rich's book and applied it to my life.I could relate to Rich's journey as I'm a similar age and was even more unfit. I never dealt with the addiction issues (closest would be food for me) that Rich had to and remember feeling like that section was pretty long but I related to or hope to relate to the rest of the book. The story was quite enjoyable and kept me listening and interested. I loved the further insight into ultra endurance events. And my family has adopted many dietary changes that Rich mentioned. We haven't gone vegan (and probably won't) but are still feeling much better from eating more in line with his philosophy. I liked that these details, as the other technical information, were shared in context of his story rather than a non-fictional guide.I do admit that I regret not having the appendixes and access to some of the reference data that is mentioned.All in all, transformational book for me.

24 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!!! Rich Roll is my new hero.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Finding Ultra is an inspirational and moving account of a man not only facing his addictions, middle age and personal fears, but conquering them as well. Mr. Roll has become a role model (pun intended, ;o) for me. This is a true mid-life coming of age story that proves anything is possible if we are willing to do the footwork.

The author holds nothing back as he explains, in detail, how he eats and why. The appendices -- especially -- are filled with copious amounts of information and resources that will get anyone started in the right direction towards better health. I can’t wait to start my new Plant Power Diet.

19 people found this helpful

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SELFISH PURSUIT should be the title of this book

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.

17 people found this helpful

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Insightful conquering life's challenges

Where does Finding Ultra rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book is great. It starts you off right in the moment of the race. It is read by the author himself which leaves it more genuine. Full of great information on finding ways to change your life for the better through understanding Rich's life story. If you love running or find yourself at the a fork in the road you might like this book.

What did you like best about this story?

His determination to conquer during challenges.

Which scene was your favorite?

Hard to say I liked the whole book. Fascinating.. that someone can turn their life around and reach such fetes.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Inspiring!

Any additional comments?

Look forward to future books by Rich!

16 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting

What did you love best about Finding Ultra?

The struggle of a lost soul, to a man who survived and soared!

Because I could relate to Part 1, I really enjoyed the whole book. I learned quite a bit.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Finding Ultra?

Winning the struggle to survive.

Which character – as performed by Rich Roll – was your favorite?

I liked them all. Great job.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Look at me now!

Any additional comments?

I just hope I can find another book as informative and told as well.

12 people found this helpful

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  • JAMES
  • 04-09-13

Inspirational, even for non-runners

I'm not a keen runner, never have been and I might never be. Nor am I a vegan and probably never will be. Doesn't sound like much of an advert for a book about a vegan ultra runner, does it? But whilst Rich makes it clear how he's benefited from heading what can only be described as 'all the way' down both of those paths, he doesn't force either of them on the listener. He's very honest about the stark realities that led him to make those choices and he describes, with retrospective passion, how the changes he made to the way he fuelled and strengthened his middle-aged body have improved his overall health and well-being. Oh, and they have helped him to achieve feats of epic athletic prowess that only handfuls of people will ever come close to. So while neither long distance running (cycling or swimming) nor giving up steak are for me, listening to this book did help inspire me towards making some significant lifestyle changes. Putting my head back in charge of my diet - a key message I took from this book - helped me to lose 40% of my bodyweight and become a healthy weight for the first time in my adult life. And for that I'll be eternally grateful to Rich and his inspirational story.

55 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee
  • 01-07-13

Fantastic

I came to the book looking for a guide to get me off the couch and running.. I didn't get that at all, what i got was far more. If this guy can turn his life around then anyone can. It's about human spirit and the love and support of others. I lost 20lbs while running and listening to this book as i just didn't want to stop running as it meant my time with the book for the day would be over.



Highly recommended.

35 people found this helpful

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  • kk
  • 11-04-18

Boastful

The author's ability to boast is another thing he does well.I'd had enough after 2 hours. He was a former national swimmer, not your average couch potato, so the premise is misleading. Narration is average.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Momoto
  • 07-24-18

View into an obsessive mind

I felt a bit misled by this title. The blurb neglects to mention that he was, in his youth, an incredible swimmer, Olympic standard. The start reminded me a bit of “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight in hat both had very privileged backgrounds, the author having the choice off every Ivy League college in the US. And yet the most interesting part of the story (his decline into alcoholism and how he turned it around) is passed over too quickly. The impression is that the transformation from alcoholic to ultra endurance athlete took 6 months. It’s clear the author has an obsessive character and this drove him towards his goals.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 06-23-16

Interesting but flawed

It grew on me this book. It's an interesting tale, and I found some bits genuinely riveting.

I've also got no problems with veganism, but I hadn't been ready for the extent it was going to try to convert me. Especially given the strange mix of good science and downright laughable science - all jumbled together to leave it unclear what's true.

Still fair play to him for turning his life around and it is an inspiring story.

10 people found this helpful

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  • CK
  • 06-06-13

Addictive!

Rich Roll has an addictive personality ...... for swimming, then for alcohol, then for fast food and then, finally, for immense physical challenges and uber fitness... along with an almost religious-like conversion to a plant-based diet. However, all of it is credible seeing as he comes from the land where you can find extremes of anything. My daughter is a competitive swimmer doing hours of training each week, so I could really relate to the beginning of his story when he spent hours in the pool each week. I'm not quite a couch potato but I do have food issues and I found this story compelling listening. I listened to this book when I was out on a power walk, or on one of my early morning bike rides and it really inspired me. Rich has also made me want to take a step towards a meatless (or rather less meat) lifestyle and I do believe it is going to be one of those books that will change my life.

The narration (by Rich himself) isn't the best, but it isn't irritating either.

10 people found this helpful

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  • N. Hodgson
  • 08-26-13

Wow... This is an incredible listen. I loved it!

Would you listen to Finding Ultra again? Why?

I have recently listened to Rich Roll's book on Finding Ultra and it has been an inspiring and incredible journey for me to listen to the down's then up's of a man who conpletely reshaped his life. I am trying to emulate only 1% of what this book oozes and that should really improve my life. It is amazing. I have recommended it to so many people I know. Even my wife wanted to listen to it after a couple of days. A great read and even better to be narrated by the author himself. A great true story which will inspire the near 40 man to get off the idea that he is past his best. I hope to improve myself after this. Thanks Rich. Rock and Roll

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The college years are funny and I thought how much it affected his life. The transformation into an Ultra athlete has been inspiring.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Think your'e over the hill? Life's only just begun. Get on your bike...

Any additional comments?

Brilliant, loved it. A superb read. Rich made a brilliant contribution by reading the book himself. It made such a difference.

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • H. Bacon
  • 01-19-13

Didn't enjoy this one bit unfortunately

I really struggled with this one. I've listened to quite a few running books now and usually enjoy them, but this one I couldn't get through. I got used to the poor narration, but then struggled to buy in to what he was saying. He describes his life like a movie, with all the drama that one might see on screen. However, I've fallen off my bike several times and not once had the crystal-clear experience as he describes - neither for any of my mates. I'm also vegan and again, my experience really doesn't accord with how he portrays his. Finally, I simply couldn't buy **spoiler alert** that a fat man with only a few short runs under his belt (as described by him) then went out and ran 24 miles in 4 hours on a hot and dusty trail run, without any food/water and no ill effects or soreness whatsoever. Far be it from me to say whether he's embellishing, or not, but I simply couldn't listen to it. Either he's a fat couch potato or he isn't, but it is far from inspiring to hear stories I can't believe. If you like the Andy Holgate Ironman book, then this is that but with the volume turned up to 20. Not for me, but clearly has it's fans.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Andy Higginbottom
  • 10-19-18

Not for me

Seemed a little “look at me” for my tastes and went on to be a bit preachy. The reading style didn’t have enough emotion and was not engaging.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR
  • 07-12-12

Inspirational

This is an incredible, inspirational book.

The author is refreshingly honest and 'puts it all out there'. You feel involved and as though you are on the journey with him.

A great read/ listen!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 07-20-17

Makes you reassess so much

His ultra story is secondary to the change in his lifestyle and vegan diet. So much to learn in nutrition from this.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Julius
  • 06-13-17

Really great lead me to Richs podcasts!

Really loved it! Rich is an amazing character, the guy below down voting because of Rich being vegan is an idiot! do some reasearch before you buy an item - being plant powered has improved my fitness through the roof - don't disagree with veganism until you trail it yourself it's the healthiest lifestyle when done correctly plus the animals & planet will love you!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Velsigne
  • 10-15-20

great story combined with circumspect science

Great story, but sadly a lot of vegan bro science...
You cannot quote studies in your book when the studies themselves site spurrious correlations to any perceived benefits. This culture of quoting 1 successful study out of 100 failed studies has got to stop. It really ruined the awesome story of someone going from a lethargic nobody to Ultra distance somebody; having a lot of stupid disproven science throughout.. the most painful part was hearing 'alkalising your body pH'...


if you enjoy ultra running and the challenge of pushing ones limits and can completely ignore the obvious bias of the author towards his sponsors... give this book a go.

if you hate woo woo science and can't stomach the obvious stupidity of statements around 'free radicals' and 'alkalising'... then give it a miss. the final 20 minutes are especially painful.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 12-08-16

Good story.

Loved the story but would prefer it read by a professional orator. Strong story though just author is too involved.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rick Fletcher
  • 01-21-16

great

great book. inspirational and informative. Well worth a read. Even if a plant powered diet is not entirely your thing, you will still learn something from this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • cr3studio
  • 10-10-15

Another Vegan fanboy

Would you ever listen to anything by Rich Roll again?

no it started off ok but headed down the rabbit hole pretty quickly, seems like he has a hero complex everything is a huge drama of lows to high and how being Vegan is all encompasing life changing heroism. not for me, i turned off about half way through

Any additional comments?

dont bother

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jacob T.
  • 02-05-22

Boring broscience

The entire book is an exercise in endurance. If Rich can’t be bothered to sound at least half interested in his own book, I don’t know how he thinks anyone else will be.

Summed up it would be ‘eat vegetables and you might be able to run further than you otherwise thought you could’. I’ve just saved you 13 hours- you’re welcome.

The real low point was the appendix when he lists the protein content of various vegetables, although the entire last third of the book when he describes minute by minute a 5 day long endurance challenge runs a close second, and somehow feels like it takes longer than the actual bloody event did.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mark sugden
  • 04-10-20

Change you world change your diet and attitude.

Great story, anything is possible with the right attitude and never staying down. Push on regardless

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-25-19

Inspiring story, poorly told

There’s an amazing story here, defeating alcoholism then going from middle aged slob to ultra marathon athlete in short time. The story is told with only a hint of vegan preaching, so okay on that front.

Sadly it’s the delivery of this audio book that really lets it down. The author really should have hired a professional narrator. His monotone, emotionless delivery is mundane and at times grating.

The reader/listener should take the veganism success story with some caution. Rich’s achievement is remarkable, sure, but he is an exception. The overwhelming majority of athletes consume a diet heavy in animal products.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-14-17

Good Story

Not becoming a vegan no matter what the health benefits might be. Well spoken book

1 person found this helpful